I was preaching for a Pastor that has become a very good friend. He was out of town and asked that we come and take care of his services. He opened up his home to us and was very kind to let us stay in their guest room.
The Pastor’s wife takes great pride in her garden and the many flowers and foliage that decorate their lawn. I noticed that, since they had been out of town, no one had been watering the flowers. As I was walking outside I found the watering can sitting next to the hose and went to work.
About 20 minutes into the chore I realized I was doing something I had no interest in at all.
I have no green thumb. I’m not a gardener. I don’t particularly like plants enough to make the effort to grow and care for them.
Yet here I was, trotting back and forth from the spout to the lawn, spending my time and energy watering someone else’s flora.
Why was I doing it?
My motivation behind caring for those plants was not my concern for the plants but my concern for the one who owned and loved the plants. I wanted her to return home and find her lovelies bright, healthy and vibrant.
It was if a light went on.
I don’t necessarily care for the church because I love them in particular. Sometimes my brothers and sisters are easy to love. However, sometimes it can be quite a chore to show the “brotherly love” I should.
No, I don’t make caring for the church a priority because I love the church in particular. I love the church because He loves the church and purchased it to be His own.
It is because I love the One who owns the church that I care and labor. I want Him to return and find His lovelies bright, healthy and vibrant.
I believe this to be a stronger and more lasting motivation than loving people.
If I serve only because I love people, when people become difficult to love, and challenge my affections, I might have justification to cease caring. However, if I am serving because I love Him, I will never find reason to cease caring. I’ll love what He loves and care because He cares. I’ll serve the church because I love the One who owns and cares for the church.
That is a minister.
In fact, Paul used the same argument when he instructed the ministers in Ephesus to feed and care for the flock of God because He had purchased the church “with his own blood” (http://bible.cc/acts/20-28.htm ).
We care because they’re His. Bottom line. My service is to God. That is how I will endure even when people become unlovely.
What an amazing revelation. His love of me is so great that it becomes the foundation of my love for others.
The old, but never outdated Sunday School song says it best. “Oh, how I love Jesus, Because He first loved me.”