by Matt Carter
HOLT, MI – “Why am I even here? I just want to go back to bed.” It was early and I hadn’t had any coffee. Worse, it was Saturday: the one day free of hustling school-aged kids out of the door in the morning, usually reserved for sleeping in. But not today. On that morning I was awake, busy, and grumpy.
What pulled me from my cozy bed and put me in such a splendid mood, you ask? I was in the kitchen at our church building, cooking breakfast casseroles as a gesture of appreciation to our volunteers. In about an hour, these faithful saints would arrive, and I would speak to them about-you guessed it- the joy of serving Jesus. Pastor-of-the-Year, right here.
Somewhere between chopping bacon and loathing the inventor of alarm clocks, the Lord graciously convicted me. He brought to mind the words I was about to teach in 1 Peter 4: if we are serving the Lord (and not ourselves) we can do so without grumbling because we serve in His strength, for His glory. It was as if the Lord asked me, “Who are you really serving right now?”
I stopped what I was doing, repented, prayed, and asked the Lord to give me a heart of thankfulness as I served Him. I desperately needed that reminder that it is a privilege to serve the Lord Jesus and His people.
Psalm 100 calls us to “Serve the LORD with gladness…Enter His gates with thanksgiving.” When we are thankful to serve God and others, we are living like Jesus.
After all, Jesus came not to be served, but to serve His people by giving His life for them (Mark 10:45). Jesus did not go to the cross grumbling about you and me. Quite the opposite. Scripture tells us that it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). Joy, gladness, and thanksgiving. These are the marks of Christlike service. When we serve the Lord with gladness, He fills us with His joy.
Serving the Lord with gladness and thanksgiving draws us closer to Jesus. On the one hand, it reminds us of His greater service to us. When we think of the cross and empty tomb, the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with overwhelming gratitude.
That Jesus would serve a sinner such as me by dying in my place is simply stunning. “Thanksgiving” almost feels too feeble a response. But it isn’t. It is the God-honoring response. On the other hand, we can serve with thankfulness because Jesus gives us the strength to serve (1 Peter 4:11). Serving makes us more like Jesus because it connects us to His power. Serving deepens our love for Jesus because He carries us through it. Getting more of Jesus is reason to give thanks, indeed.
Serving the Lord with gladness and thanksgiving is worth it, because when we do, we get the blessing of His presence and grace. Even early on a Saturday. Press on, my friends, in thankful service to the Lord.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Carter serves as the Lead Pastor of Cedar Street Church in Holt. Prior to coming to Cedar Street, he served in various roles at several churches in North Carolina. He holds an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Matt and his wife Anna have four kids and one marginally tolerable dog.