1. MOTIVE FOR SERVICE
a. What aspects of discipleship are often overlooked by many who profess to follow Christ? Mark 8:34; John 15:19, 20.
“Few are willing to imitate [Christ’s] amazing privations, to endure His sufferings and persecutions, and to share His exhausting labor to bring others to the light. But few will follow His example in earnest, frequent prayer to God for strength to endure the trials of this life and perform its daily duties. Christ is the Captain of our salvation, and by His own sufferings and sacrifice He has given an example to all His followers that watchfulness and prayer, and persevering effort, were necessary on their part if they would rightly represent the love which dwelt in His bosom for the fallen race.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 664.
b. What contrast exists between true and false service? Job 31:24–28; 29:11–16. Why must we reexamine our motives?
“With many, the rubbish of the world has clogged the channels of the soul. Selfishness has controlled the mind and warped the character. Were the life hid with Christ in God, His service would be no drudgery. If the whole heart were consecrated to God, all would find something to do, and would covet a part in the work. They would sow beside all waters, praying and believing that the fruit would appear.”—The Review and Herald, December 19, 1878.
2. THE KEYNOTE OF CHRIST’S TEACHINGS
a. What unfortunate contrast exists between Christ Himself and many of His professed followers today? Philippians 2:5–8, 21.
“The plan of salvation was laid in a sacrifice so broad and deep and high that it is immeasurable. Christ did not send His angels to this fallen world, while He remained in heaven; but He Himself went without the camp, bearing the reproach. He became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; Himself took our infirmities, and bore our weaknesses. And the absence of self-denial in His professed followers, God regards as a denial of the Christian name. Those who profess to be one with Christ, and indulge their selfish desires for rich and expensive clothing, furniture, and food, are Christians only in name. To be a Christian is to be Christlike.
“And yet how true are the words of the apostle: ‘For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s’ [Philippians 2:21]. Many Christians do not have works corresponding to the name they bear. They act as if they had never heard of the plan of redemption wrought out at infinite cost. The majority aim to make a name for themselves in the world; they adopt its forms and ceremonies, and live for the indulgence of self. They follow out their own purposes as eagerly as do the world, and thus they cut off their power to help in establishing the kingdom of God.”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 54.
b. What heavenly principle does Christ enjoin upon all of His followers today? Why? Matthew 16:24–26.
“Those who would gain the blessing of sanctification must first learn the meaning of self-sacrifice. The cross of Christ is the central pillar on which hangs the ‘far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17). [Matthew 16:24 quoted.] It is the fragrance of our love for our fellow men that reveals our love for God. It is patience in service that brings rest to the soul.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 560.
“We are to practice the same self-sacrifice that led [Christ] to give Himself up to the death of the cross, to make it possible for human beings to have eternal life. In all our expenditure of means we are to strive to fulfill the purpose of Him who is the alpha and omega of all Christian effort.
“We are to place in the Lord’s treasury all the means that we can spare. For this means, needy, unworked fields are calling.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 49.
3. LEARNING FROM THE APOSTLES
a. What was the secret of the apostle Paul’s fervent love for the souls of men and women? 2 Corinthians 4:15–18; 5:14, 15.
“How can those for whom Christ has sacrificed so much, continue to enjoy His gifts selfishly? His love and self-denial are without a parallel; and when this love enters into the experience of His followers, they will identify their interests with those of their Redeemer. Their work will be to build up the kingdom of Christ. They will consecrate themselves and their possessions to Him, and use both as His cause may require. . . .
“The love of Jesus in the soul will be revealed in word and deed. The kingdom of Christ will be paramount. Self will be laid a willing sacrifice on the altar of God. Everyone who is truly united with Christ will feel the same love for souls that caused the Son of God to leave His royal throne, His high command, and for our sake become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich.”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 55.
b. Of what tendency does the apostle John warn believers—and how may this apply to us? 1 John 2:15–17.
“As professed Christians, what are we doing? Souls all around us, close beside our homes, and those afar off, are perishing in their sins, unwarned, uncared for. Every day we pass by those who are without hope and without God in the world, and never open our lips to tell them of Christ and His love. A worldly infatuation keeps men and women spellbound. . . . Soldiers of the cross of Christ should be moving heaven with their prayers for God to work, for His power to cooperate with the human agent to reach men where they are.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 95.
“While many are waiting to have every obstacle removed, souls are dying without hope and without God in the world. Many, very many, for the sake of worldly advantage, for the sake of acquiring knowledge of the sciences, will venture into pestilential regions, and will go into countries where they think they can obtain commercial advantage; but where are the men and women who will change their location, and move their families into regions that are in need of the light of the truth, in order that their example may tell upon those who shall see in them the representatives of Christ?”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 56.
4. CHARACTERISTICS OF FAITH
a. As servants of Christ, what should characterize our faith? Why? Ephesians 6:6–8.
“Is there not danger that the precious, immortal inheritance may be eclipsed by the valueless treasure of earth? There is danger that your usefulness may be destroyed, your faith weakened, your soul-temple defiled with buyers and sellers.”—The Review and Herald, June 19, 1888.
b. Why did Christ reiterate the tenth commandment during His ministry? Exodus 20:17; Luke 12:15. What is God’s remedy to enable us to overcome the terrible sin of selfishness? Hebrews 12:2, 3.
“Christ is our example. He gave His life as a sacrifice for us, and He asks us to give our lives as a sacrifice for others. Thus we may cast out the selfishness which Satan is constantly striving to implant in our hearts. This selfishness is death to all piety, and can be overcome only by manifesting love to God and to our fellow men. Christ will not permit one selfish person to enter the courts of heaven. No covetous person can pass through the pearly gates; for all covetousness is idolatry.”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 26.
“Constant, self-denying benevolence is God’s remedy for the cankering sins of selfishness and covetousness. God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain His cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy. He has ordained that giving should become a habit, that it may counteract the dangerous and deceitful sin of covetousness. Continual giving starves covetousness to death. Systematic benevolence is designed in the order of God to tear away treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained and to consecrate them to the Lord, to whom they belong. . . .
“Riches make men selfish, and hoarding feeds covetousness; and these evils strengthen by active exercise. God knows our danger and has hedged us about with means to prevent our own ruin. He requires the constant exercise of benevolence, that the force of habit in good works may break the force of habit in an opposite direction.
“By exercise, benevolence constantly enlarges and strengthens, until it becomes a principle and reigns in the soul. It is highly dangerous to spirituality to allow selfishness and covetousness the least room in the heart.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 548, 549.
5. FULL SUBMISSION
a. How can we be encouraged by the example of the early Christians in Macedonia? 2 Corinthians 8:1–5.
“Nearly all the Macedonian believers were poor in this world’s goods, but their hearts were overflowing with love for God and His truth, and they gladly gave for the support of the gospel. When general collections were taken up in the Gentile churches for the relief of the Jewish believers, the liberality of the converts in Macedonia was held up as an example to other churches.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 343.
b. How does Christ summarize our duty as believers? Mark 12:29–31. What happens as we put this principle into daily practice? Matthew 7:24, 25.
“The whole being is to be consecrated to the service of the Master.”—The General Conference Bulletin, April 16, 1901.
“No one can be truly united with Christ, practicing His lessons, submitting to His yoke of restraint, without realizing that which he can never express in words. New, rich thoughts come to him. Light is given to the intellect, determination to the will, sensitiveness to the conscience, purity to the imagination. The heart becomes more tender, the thoughts more spiritual, the service more Christlike. In the life there is seen that which no words can express—true, faithful, loving devotion of heart, mind, soul, and strength to the work of the Master.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 476, 477.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did the life of Job reflect the Spirit of Christ?
2. What common tendency must we overcome if we would be victorious?
3. What do Paul and John teach us about cultivating eternal values?
4. Why is covetousness so detrimental to our souls?
5. How is wholehearted service rewarded, even in this earthly life?