When we enter the sanctuary, do we ask ourselves, "how will I minister to the Lord this morning?" Or, when we leave, do we ask ourselves, "was the Lord glorified?"
All too often, someone may say, "that was a great service." Or Pastor, "that was a great sermon."
What are the reasons or justifications for calling a service or message "good?" Do we ask the Lord if He was glorified? Do we ask Him if He enjoyed our praise?
Can we say we gave Him a sacrifice like Abel? Or did we sacrifice like Cain?
Was our worship filled with pride this morning? If He was offended, would we want to know?
When was the last time we asked the Lord what he desires from us and our services? Certainly, the Lord desires more than 1 hour of our time per week.
All of these questions should cause us to pause and take note. We should consider the Lord in what we do. Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:31.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
– 1 Corinthians 10:31
If Paul instructs us to do everything to the glory of God, then should we not first look at how we minister to him lest we find that even our ministry to Him is not giving Him glory?
Are we so concerned with numbers and results and baptisms that they themselves have become our idols? We know that the Lord will remove a lampstand if we become like Ephesus in Revelation 2, who was commendable in many things but was on the verge of losing their first love.
Can we say we are ministering to the Lord if we have forgotten our love for Him? Or can we say we minister to Him if we forget that we are priests?
Peter, in his first letter, writes of our new identity in Christ as believers.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:9-10
If we are called priests, then have we forgotten our identity? Have we forgotten that the primary task of priests is to minister to the Lord?
If we are truly a royal priesthood, how often do we consider ourselves as those who approach the throne to minister to Him and to serve Him? Certainly, those who serve will seek to know if they are approved by the one they are serving. Do we seek to know from our Father if what we are doing is approved by Him?
After all, we are people he has purchased. Peter even calls us "a people for his own possession." But we have been purchased for the express reason "that we may proclaim His excellencies." because He has "called us out of darkness and into marvelous light."
Can we say we have asked the Father if He approves of how we worship His Son? Can we say that our worship services glorify the Lord in everything we do?
Does He have preeminence? Is He welcome as Lord? Can we say that during or before our worship of the Lord that we have consecrated ourselves to come into His presence?
Have we killed our flesh beforehand? Have we become a living sacrifice before the Lord, or are we worshipping him purely from our flesh for what we get out of it? Is our worship purely for an emotional response?
I do not ask these questions as a means of causing disruption but rather to cause us to reconsider the Christ that we are worshipping and to ask ourselves if He is pleased with how He is being worshipped.
As believers, we profess faith in a living savior, do we not? We believe in a living God who so greatly desires a relationship with us that He gave His unique Son for us so that He might secure a future with us forever. What, then, does it say about our faith if we do not even ask about His response to our actions or prayers?
Do we not believe in the bidirectional communication between the creator of the universe and us as individuals? If we never listen or ask or wait for his response, then do we truly believe? Think about your answers carefully because perhaps we should begin to consider what our Lord thinks of what we are doing in His name and even how we worship Him.
Can we even say that our lives are living sacrifices?
Our lives as believers should be consecrated continually so that we may live as priests who minister to him daily. Remember what Paul instructs the Romans.
I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
– Romans 12:1
How, then, are we to minister to him daily? What does scripture say about living a life of sacrifice? Do we not have the Lord himself as a guide? Surely, we do.
In Mark 10, we have the record of the bickering between the disciples...
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
– Mark 10:43-45
We know that those who make themselves servants in this age will be great in the next age, but how is being a servant related to ministering to the Lord?
Remember what the Lord said about the judging of the nations in Matthew 25.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' — Matthew 25:35-45
We can see now that feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and the imprisoned is ministering to the Lord.
If we look closely at the parable, the Lord associates caring for those in need with ministering to himself.
Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'
– Matthew 25:44-45
Therefore, when we see the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the naked, we should not see the person in need but rather the Lord himself. If we do this, we can then minister to the Lord when He himself is in need.
What greater honor is there than ministering to the Lord when He is in need?
This is the principle we must adopt. The one who is not in need, Christ, steps into the place of the one who is needy. This is an image of the cross that he bore for our sake. If we are not willing to sacrifice our plenty for those who lack, how can we truly understand the gospel?
Solomon gave us this wisdom as well in Proverbs 19:17, saying:
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.
– Proverbs 19:17
If we are generous to those in need, we are generous to the Lord Himself, and whatever is lent will be repaid in full. It is time we shifted our perspective on ministering to those in need and considered the day we stand before Him.
If we, as priests, do not minister to the one who makes us priests and even calls us His own possession, how can we say that we are priests if we deny our calling?
We must first minister to the Lord and remember our identity as priests. If we do not minister to him as priests, no one will.
We must reconsider our calling and ask ourselves if we are fulfilling the task of the royal priesthood. Is He glorified in our worship? Is He glorified by how we live?
What changes need to be made so He can be ministered to in our midst? Can we minister to the body of Christ and to the Lord at the same time? I believe we can.
If we, who claim to love Him as a bride, do not minister to Him as priests, no one else will. Therefore, let us take up the calling that we have received and humble ourselves as priests who are holy unto the Lord and who minister to Him above all things.