An Examination of the Teaching of Scripture about
the Duty and Privilege of Serving God
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2018 F. Wayne Mac Leod
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Title Page
1 - Creation’s Mandate
2 - The Law’s Mandate
3 - Salvation’s Mandate
4 - The Kingdom of God
5 - The Work of the Kingdom
6 - The Glory of God
7 - The Love of God
8 - The Prize Set Before Us
9 - By My Spirit
10 - By Faith
11 - With Clean Hands and a Pure Heart
12 - How We Serve
About The Author
efore we begin, let me be honest with you. I have felt compelled
to do this study because of what I have been sensing in the body
of Christ. In our effort to attract people to the faith, we have
preached a Christ who lives to serve humankind. In some ways, the God of
Christianity has become a servant of humanity. Maybe you have met
individuals who have become angry with God because He did not do
something for them or give them what they wanted. I was listening recently
to a radio interview with a pastor who abandoned his faith because God did
not give him what he wanted. As a result, he no longer believes in God. I
have met people who do not want a God they have to serve. The God they
want is one who comes to their aid and gives them whatever they want in
life. This, however, is not the God of the Bible.
The God of the Bible, although full of grace and mercy, is a sovereign and
holy God. He is not only worthy of praise and adoration but deserving of
our devotion. We were created to bring Him honour through our lives and
deeds. Serving God is not only possible but a tremendous privilege. More
than this, however, it is our livelong mandate.
I have met believers whose whole focus in life has been on themselves.
There is a vast resource of unused spiritual gifts wasting away. The brief
time God has given us on this earth has been eaten away but worldly
concerns and pleasures. Our eyes have been blinded to the needs around us.
Our ears have been deafened to the tug of God’s Spirit to act.
It is not only those in need who miss out on the benefits God wants to get to
them through us. We, too, have sacrificed much. The greatest blessings of
the Christian live come through sacrifice. We experience the presence of
God in times of service in ways we cannot know by any other means. By
stepping out in faithful obedience, we see the work of God in and through
us and our faith is strengthened. If we are not serving, we are missing out
on some of the greatest blessings in the Christian life.
The goal of this study is to challenge believers to seek the Lord God in how
to serve Him and discover His purpose for their life on earth. It is my heart
to do all I can with the gifts and calling He has placed on my heart. I want
to stand before Him on that final day, and hear Him say, “Well done, good
and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). I cannot think of any higher purpose
in life than to live to hear those words. May this become your heart as well.
F. Wayne Mac Leod
e begin this study with an examination of the story of creation.
Genesis 1:1-25 tells how God created the heavens and the
earth with all its creatures and vegetation. The account ends
with the creation of man. Man was different from the animals God made in
two important ways. We read in Genesis 1:26-28:
[26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea
and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and
over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on
the earth.” [27] So God created man in his own image, in the
image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
[28] And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful
and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have
dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the
heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
(Genesis 1)
First, notice that God created man in His image and likeness. While this is
not the subject of this study, suffice it to say that there was a special
connection between God and man that did not exist between the Creator
and the other living creatures in the garden. This connection was not so
much physical as it was in spirit and purpose. God created man with the
ability to communicate with Him. Genesis 3 recounts how God walked in
the garden and spoke with the man and his wife (Genesis 3:8-13). Adam
and Eve talked to God and enjoyed His presence in those early days.
Notice second, in Genesis 1:26-28, that Adam and Eve were distinguished
from other creatures not only by their ability to communicate with God but
also in the purpose God gave them in the garden. God commanded them to
multiply, subdue the earth, and have dominion over it (Genesis 1:28). While
the other creatures in the garden were also to be fruitful and multiply
(Genesis 1:22), Adam and Eve were to subdue and have dominion. This
placed them under a special obligation and privilege.
Genesis 2:15 clarifies this purpose of God:
[15] The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of
Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2)
The act of subduing and having dominion is defined in Genesis 2:15 as
working and keeping. In other words, Adam and Eve were to till the soil
and care for the earth.
We catch a glimpse of the heart of God for the earth in the law of Moses
when He commanded:
[19] “When you besiege a city for a long time, making war
against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by
wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you
shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that
they should be besieged by you? [20] Only the trees that you
know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that
you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with
you, until it falls. (Deuteronomy 20:19-20)
The Lord desired that the earth continue to produce fruit for the blessing of
its inhabitants. His command through Moses was that soldiers respect this
and not destroy fruit trees in enemy territory.
God placed Adam and Eve in the garden to “work and keep” it. They were
created with a purpose. They were to care for the land God had given them
by encouraging its health and fruitfulness. God created man and woman to
serve Him and accomplish His purpose on the earth.
God repeated this command even after Adam and Eve fell into sin. To Eve
the Lord said:
[16] To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in
childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be
contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3)
God’s purpose for Adam and Eve, even after sin entered the world, was to
multiply and fill the earth. The difficulty of this responsibility would
increase, and Eve would bear her children with great pain. God’s intention
for the earth, however, would remain.
God’s determination that Adam and Eve have dominion and subdue the
earth did not change with the entrance of sin into the garden. Speaking to
Adam in Genesis 3, the Lord said:
[17] And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the
voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I
commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground
because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your
life; [18] thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and
you shall eat the plants of the field. [19] By the sweat of your
face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of
it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall
return.” (Genesis 3)
God still required that Adam work and keep the earth. The only difference
was that the effort needed for this task would be significantly increased.
The ground was cursed by sin and would yield its fruit reluctantly. Thorns
and thistles would compete with vegetables and fruit. Adam would now be
required to work “by the sweat of his face” to obtain his food and subdue
the earth. The stories of creation and the fall show us that God created
humankind with a purpose. He gave to the first man and woman the task of
caring for the earth He had given them.
There are many implications to this creation mandate. Morally, it is our
responsibility to preserve and keep our bodies and minds lest they be
defiled by impurity or unhealthy patterns. Environmentally, we must do our
part in protecting the earth God has given us from pollution or
unsustainable ecological practices. Spiritually it means keeping our souls
from sin and evil influences. Socially, it requires caring for our loved ones
and the needy in our community.
Being faithful to this mandate will not be without its obstacles. God told
Adam that he would compete with thorns and thistles in his attempt to
subdue and keep the earth God had created for him. God holds us
responsible, however, for protecting, developing and keeping whatever He
had given us. We will stand before Him to give an account of our lives.
May He find us faithful.
Father God, I recognize that you created me with a purpose. Like Adam and
Eve, I have been placed on this earth to care for and cultivate what you
have given. Help me to be mindful of the many wonderful blessings I have
received from You. Show me how to use these blessings to honour your
name. Forgive me for not being faithful in fulfilling my creation mandate.
Set me free from a self-centred attitude that is more concerned with comfort
and personal benefit than my responsibility before you to protect and
develop what you have placed under my dominion.
n the last chapter, we examined the responsibility God gave man and
woman at creation. We move now to the Law of Moses, as found in
the Old Testament. The law also underscored the obligation of God’s
people toward their Creator. Listen to the words of Exodus 23:
[25] You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless
your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from
among you. (Exodus 23)
God commanded His people to serve Him. Notice the connection between
serving God and blessing in the life of the believer. God promised to bless
the bread and water of those who served Him. He repeats this promise in
Deuteronomy 11:
[8] “You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I
command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take
possession of the land that you are going over to possess, [9]
and that you may live long in the land that the LORD swore to
your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land
flowing with milk and honey. (Deuteronomy 11)
Strength for the people of God came not through their military, but by
obedience to the command of God and faithful service. If they served the
Lord faithfully, God would give them a land flowing with milk and honey.
The Lord went on to say:
[13] “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I
command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve
him with all your heart and with all your soul, [14] he will give
the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later
rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your
oil. [15] And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock,
and you shall eat and be full. (Deuteronomy 11)
God promised His people that if they obeyed Him and served Him with all
their heart and soul, He would give them rain so that they would harvest
grain, wine and oil. Their livestock would graze freely in the abundant
supply of grass. The pathway to blessing for the people of God was faithful
service and obedience to God’s commandments.
It is important to note that serving God was not just a matter of following a
particular lifestyle. God required that service be from the heart.
[12] “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require
of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways,
to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart
and with all your soul, [13] and to keep the commandments and
statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for
your good? (Deuteronomy 10)
Isaiah prophesied that God would judge those who honoured the Lord God
with their lips but not from their heart:
[13] And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with
their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are
far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by
men, [14] therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things
with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of
their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their
discerning men shall be hidden.” (Isaiah 29)
Moses tells us that those who did not serve the Lord with joyfulness and
gladness of heart would be severely punished:
[47] Because you did not serve the LORD your God with
joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of
all things, [48] therefore you shall serve your enemies whom
the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in
nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of
iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. (Deuteronomy 28)
If the people of God wanted to experience the fullness of God’s blessing,
they needed to serve Him with gladness of heart. There are blessings in the
Christian life that can only be experienced through joyful service. We have
already seen that serving God in a sinful world will mean sacrifice and
hardship at times, but every joyful effort will be rewarded.
The question we must now ask is this: What did serving God look like
under the Law of Moses? While it is not possible to examine all the
requirements of God in the Old Testament, I do believe it may be helpful to
get a general sense of the duty of God’s people at this time.
Religious Duty
Serving God in the Old Testament required observing the rules and
regulations set out in the Law of Moses. This included the observation of
the feasts and festivals of the Jewish faith:
[17] And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for
on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt.
Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your
generations, as a statute forever. (Exodus 12)
God’s people were not to neglect the celebration of the various ceremonies
established by God as recorded in the Law.
The Lord also required that His people live according to the standards He
had laid out for them in the Law of Moses.
[37] And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and
do them: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19)
Serving God demanded a particular way of life. The people of Israel were
not to be like the nations around them. To serve God meant following His
purpose and walking in His ways, even when it was different from how
other people lived.
Social Obligations
Serving God went far beyond the celebration of feasts and ceremonial
duties. God’s law placed His people under an obligation to each other. It
required that they show love and respect to their fellow citizen:
[17] “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you
shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin
because of him. [18] You shall not take vengeance or bear a
grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love
your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19)
They were to demonstrate kindness and generosity toward a brother, sister,
or stranger in need:
[35] “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain
himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a
stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. [36] Take
no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your
brother may live beside you. [37] You shall not lend him your
money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. (Leviticus
Serving God demanded equal justice for all people:
[16] And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the cases
between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man
and his brother or the alien who is with him. [17] You shall not
be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great
alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment
is God’s. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring
to me, and I will hear it.’ (Deuteronomy 1)
God expected that all who served Him demonstrate absolute integrity
toward one another.
[36] You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah,
and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out
of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19)
When a brothers possessions were misplaced, or his animals wandered off,
the servant of God would care for those animals and bring them back to
their rightful owner.
[22:1] “You shall not see your brothers ox or his sheep going
astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your
brother. [2] And if he does not live near you and you do not
know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it
shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall
restore it to him. [3] And you shall do the same with his donkey
or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brothers,
which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. [4] You
shall not see your brothers donkey or his ox fallen down by the
way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again.
(Deuteronomy 22)
Those who served God needed to demonstrate concern for the safety and
well-being of their brothers and sisters:
[8] “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for
your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your
house, if anyone should fall from it. (Deuteronomy 22)
They were to respect the dignity of the wrongdoer. Speaking of those who
were punished for wrongdoing, the Law of Moses stated:
[3] Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one
should go on to beat