“We are simply God’s servants…Each one of us does the work which the Lord gave him to do: I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow.”
(I Corinthians 3:5-6, TEV)
I. Introduction: You Were Created to Become Like Christ
In the purpose #3 of his book_ftn1" title="">, Rick Warren reminded us that we were created to become like Christ. He said that from the very beginning, God’s plan for each of us has been to make each of us like His Son, Jesus. God announced this intention in our Creation (Gen.1:26-27) and Redemption (Rom.8:28-29). What does the full “image and likeness” of God look like? It looks like Jesus Christ!
God’s ultimate goal or purpose for our life on earth is character development (not comfort, exactly!). God wants us to grow up spiritually and become like Christ. Becoming like Christ does not mean losing our personality. He himself created our uniqueness, so for sure He certainly doesn’t want to destroy it. But, Christlikeness is all about transforming our character, not our personality (Rom.12:1-2; Eph.4:23-24). Sometimes, God uses problem, suffering, and difficult circumstances to build and develop Christlike character in our lives. What happens outwardly in our life is not as important as what happens inside us. God knows what is best for each of us.
Actually, there are no shortcuts for maturity. It takes years for us to grow to adulthood and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. In the same way is true for the fruit of the Spirit in us. The progress of Christlike character in us cannot be rushed. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, takes a long time process, even the whole journey of our life. So, be patient! God’s timetable is rarely the same with ours. We are often in a hurry when God isn’t. You may feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress you’re making in life. Remember: God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. He will use your entire lifetime to prepare you for your role in eternity.
II. Accepting Your Assignment
What is your role on earth in eternity’s perspective? In the purpose #4, you were reminded that your role is to serve God. You were put on earth to make an important contribution, not just to consume resources − to eat, breathe, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life and in the life of others. Because you were created, called, and commanded to serve God. It is called your ministry or your service. For example, some of us serving God as professional teachers or lecturers in high school or university. While others dedicated themselves in government or political movement to bring justice, peace, and secure to the people or society under their control. What about you? If you are not involved in any service or ministry, what excuse have you been using? What is holding you back from accepting God’s call to serve Him?
There is a point to ponder: service is not optional, but an obedience to God. A verse to remember: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph.2:10 (NIV). We are saved by grace through faith in Christ for a great purpose: to serve God by serving others. Question to consider: What are some things we may do for God to say thank you for everything He does for us?
III. You were Shaped for Serving God by Serving Others
Whenever God gives us an assignment (I Cor.3:5-6; Eph.2:10), He always equips us with what we need to accomplish it. This custom combination of capabilities is called your SHAPE: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experience. God gives every believer spiritual gifts to be used and exercised in ministry. These are special God-empowered abilities for serving Him that are given only to believers by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit.” (I Cor.2:14)
Spiritual gifts or talents from God could be in many forms and difference from one another according to the grace given to us. In Romans 12:6-8, Paul gives us the list and urges us to use them for building the body of Christ: “if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortations; the one who contributes, in his generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (ESV) Paul also talks about how these gifts are to be used. It is with humility (humble mind) that we all work together in the body of Christ. Paul tells us just as in Philippians 2:3-4, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” This very mindset comes from the understanding that everything we have is from the Lord and for the Lord. God has poured out in us all His gifts of grace. God has given you something very special, hand crafted by Him for you to encourage and build up the body of Christ. Did you know that? Are you using His gifts to serve others?
You can see that these gifts not just related to “spiritual things” like prophecy or service or showing mercy with cheerfulness, but also “worldly things” such like teaching or leading or showing generosity to others. In Paul’s mindset, there is no dichotomy between “spiritual” and “physical” or “holy” and “worldly” in Christian life. Jesus is The One who lives and reigns in all aspects of our life, either physically or spiritually. Because we are totally (physically and spiritually) redeemed, so we should not say that some area of our lives are “sacred (holy)” and some are “secular (worldly).” We don’t need to make this gap or separation anymore because our life is an integrated life before God. The same is also with our ministry is a holistic ministry, without any dichotomy between “sacred” and “secular.”
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Colossae pressed them like this: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, not for men” (Col.3:23, ESV). This command became important and special because it was addressed to the bondservants in Christ. Actually, in the previous verse (v.22) Paul has urged them: “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” What’s so amazing about grace! Even the bondservants in Christ are called to work heartily as for the Lord, not for men. Aren’t you called and commanded to do the same in every kind of work you do, even much more? Have you understood how God desires to use you and the gifts He has given you? What changes you desire to take place in your life based on your relationship with God and your ministry (service) to others?
Prayer: God, help me to use my talents/gifts by working heartily as for You, not for men. Amen.
 Rick Warren (2002), The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for? Zondervan Publishing, USA.