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Developing a Servant's HeartA Servant's Reward

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When you serve others, when you extend blessing to others, not only will you experience God's blessing and mercy, but those you love will experience God's blessing and mercy because they will see in you an expression of the merciful heart of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, June 29.

The things you do today could either lead you to a great reward or to great regret. Nancy will give you a long-term perspective on servanthood and the reward of servanthood. Here she is, wrapping up a series called, Developing a Servant's Heart.

Nancy: We've talked over the last several days about having a servant's heart, having the heart of an Onesiphorus, who is the man from Ephesus who ministered encouragement and servanthood to the apostle Paul when he was in prison. We've been reading about him in 2 Timothy chapter one.

We took a couple-day parenthesis over the last couple sessions to talk about some of the dangers or cautions for those who serve, but I want to come back to something as we wrap up this series on the life of Onesiphorus. That has to do with a servant's reward. We could call this session “Payday.”

Payday—when does a servant get his reward? When does a servant get crowned? Well, let me just say first of all as we look at the Scripture, we can be assured that there is a payday, that servants will be crowned.

Servants will be rewarded, and you see this all through the Scripture. You read about it in Philippians two, how Jesus humbled Himself. He took upon Him the form of a servant. He came to this earth to serve (see verses 6-8).

It says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (v. 9 NKJV). That's payday, the crowning of a faithful servant. It's not here. It's not now. It's someday, but it's sure to come.

Those who've been faithful servants will be rewarded. You read about it in Proverbs chapter 31—all those verses about the virtuous woman and all the things she does to care for the needs of her husband and her children and the poor and her neighbors. She works her fingers to the bone, and not till you get to the end of that chapter do you find the woman's reward.

That's when her husband praises her. That's when her children rise up and call her blessed, and I think the percentage there is about the way it works out in life. You do it for years with not a whole lot of thanks many times, but the reward comes at the end of the story. The reward comes at the end of the chapter, but it's sure to come.

God's Word says over and over again, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” He will lift you up. He will crown you. He will reward you. He will exalt you if you've been willing to take the place of a servant.

Before we jump back into Onesiphorus' life to wrap up this series,I want to call your attention to one principle in the Scripture, and that is that one of the rewards for faithful service. Are you ready for this? It's more service, more service.

Turn in your Bible, if you have it, to Matthew chapter 25. Jesus tells a parable here that makes this point. He says,

It will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.

To one he gave five talents [that's a weight, a unit of money], to another two, to another one [they weren't all entrusted with the same amount], to each according to his ability. Then [the master] went away. 

He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more, [while his master was gone] . . . After a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. (vv. 14-16, 19) 

Now let me just stop there for a moment. Then we can't see our Master. He doesn't come and check up on us every day in a way that we can see or hear, but we have the promise here that our Master will come back. He will settle accounts, and He will find out what we've done with what He entrusted to us.

He who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, "Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more." His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little."(vv. 20-21)

Now here's the time for the reward. Here's payday, and what do you think the reward is? For all the rest of eternity, you can sit in your golden chair with your golden slippers and your golden fan. Is that the reward? Well, it's an eternal reward, but look at what the reward is.

"You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” You were trustworthy. You were a faithful servant with the little bit I entrusted to you. Now I can give you more responsibility. For all eternity, we will have the privilege of serving the Lord Jesus, but the level of responsibility that we will have in heaven for all of eternity is being determined now by how faithful we are with what God has entrusted to us.

Does that make you want to take seriously the responsibility of serving here, knowing that part of your reward will be the privilege of serving the Lord Jesus for all eternity? Jesus closed that paragraph by saying, “Enter into the joy of your master” (v. 21).

To serve the Lord Jesus for all of our lives will be a great, endless, eternal joy. You see, sometimes when we serve here, it's hard. It's thankless, but we will be able to serve in His presence for all of eternity. That will be the reward.

Now let me ask you to go back to 2 Timothy chapter 1, and I want to close up this session on Onesiphorus by showing you how Onesiphorus received a reward. The point here is that the service we do for others will be rewarded.

We don't do it for that motive. We don't do it for that purpose, and we don't do it to get our reward from people but knowing that ultimately the Lord Jesus will reward our faithful service.

Paul says in verse 16 of 2 Timothy chapter 1,

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.(vv. 16-18)

What's the reward? Paul prays it twice for Onesiphorus in this passage, [verse 16], “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus.” Verse 18, “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!”

Paul says the mercy of God is going to be the servant's reward. Now there may be other rewards, but in this passage, this is the one that stands out.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7). It's the law of sowing and reaping. Onesiphorus had extended mercy to Paul. He had helped to alleviate Paul's misery and his suffering. He had ministered out of pity and kindness and compassion to Paul's need.

He had extended mercy, and now Paul prays twice in one paragraph that God will extend mercy back to Onesiphorus. You've sown mercy; you will reap mercy. You've sown service; you will reap blessing, and notice that Paul prays that God will grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus. That's a present tense request.

Onesiphorus and his family lived in Ephesus, and Paul prays that Onesiphorus and his family will have mercy now. Then he prays in verse 18 that he will have future mercy. “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!” Capital D in my translation.

What is that Day? That Day is the return of Christ. There is a part of the reward that is yet to come. Now that word “mercy.” Paul says, “May he have mercy now. May his family have mercy, and may he have mercy from the Lord on that Day!”

We're told in Scripture that God is rich in mercy, that God is abundant in mercy and that since God is merciful to us, we should show mercy to others. Here's the cycle. God shows mercy to us, and we show mercy to others. We give to others the mercy that we have received from the Lord, and when we show mercy to others, we receive more mercy from God.  

Do you want to live under the mercy of God? I'll tell you what. You can't afford not to live under the mercy of God. You and I cannot afford for a moment, now or for all of eternity, to be without God's mercy because if God didn't have mercy on us, we would be consumed in His wrath.

You want to be spared the judgment of God? You want to be spared the wrath of God? Of course, God has shown the ultimate mercy to us in the sacrifice of Christ. It's through faith in Christ that we receive God's mercy, but we demonstrate that we have received that mercy when we show mercy to others. Then the evidence that we have shown mercy to others is that we receive more mercy from God.

This reward, by the way, extended beyond Onesiphorus to others. Who was the one who had refreshed Paul? Onesiphorus. Who was the one who came to Rome and earnestly searched until he found him? It was Onesiphorus. Who was the one who ministered to Paul in Ephesus? It was Onesiphorus, but for whom did Paul pray God's mercy? The household of Onesiphorus.

Paul said, “May mercy be granted to the household of Onesiphorus.” That says to me that when you serve others, when you extend blessing to others, that not only will you experience God's blessing and mercy, but those you love will experience God's blessing and mercy because they will see in you an expression of the merciful heart of God.

I really believe that a lot of God's mercy and blessing in my life today is the fruit, decades later, of my parents' faithful service to the Lord. Now I'm serving others. I'm blessing others. I reap blessings from that, but far more of the blessing I reap in my life is the fruit of my parents sowing seeds of service and mercy and blessing in lives.

My parents had people in our home all the time. Now that I have a home and I know what it takes, I can't believe all the things my mother did to let my dad bring all his company to the house over and over and over again. She extended mercy. She extended hospitality. She was the hostess with the mostest—still is.

Now I'm reaping in my life. I've had more people have me in their homes and fix meals for me and bless me in practical ways and relational ways and spiritual ways. My parents planted for years. My mother still is—seeds of service, blessing others, and I'm part of their household. God has granted mercy to me as an overflow, an extension of my parents' ministry in the lives of others.

It's one of the greatest inheritances you can leave for your children. Moms, knowing that, as you serve others, not only will you be blessed and reap the mercy of God, but your children will be blessed. They will be blessed because God will bless them, but they'll be blessed just by seeing in you an example of the heart and spirit of Jesus. The rewards extend beyond us to others.

Then, we've already pointed it out, but let me just highlight it here. The full reward for a servant will not be experienced until that Day. Some of the reward comes now. Some of it doesn't come till later.

Now let me say, what's true of the reward for service is also true of the long-term consequences of not serving or of opposing God's work. You see that in 2 Timothy also. In chapter 4, verse 14, Paul says, “The Lord will repay Alexander according to his deeds. He caused me much trouble.” (paraphrase)

He's not going to reap the full consequences now. In that Day, he will reap those consequences, so whether it's blessing or judgment, there's a Day yet coming when we will reap the rewards or the consequences of the choices we have made in this life.

That Day—it's the return of Christ. You read about it in 2 Corinthians one and 1 Corinthians three. There are three references to that Day in the book of 2 Timothy.

It's a great day of God's judgment. It's a Day to be feared if you've not been walking with the Lord, when all deeds done in the flesh will be rewarded, and what are we going to need in that Day? Mercy.

Mercy—we need God's mercy today. We'll need it more in that Day, and that's why James chapter 2 says, “Those who have shown no mercy will have judgment without mercy”(see v. 13).

Do you want to be in that position in that Day? I don't. We will be shown judgment without mercy if we have not shown mercy to others.

That's why when we're serving here, we need to keep our eye on the ball, keep our eye on the end, keep our eye on that Day. In that Day, we will be shown mercy if we have extended mercy to others as He has extended mercy to us.

The story is told of an elderly missionary couple in 1910 who were returning to the United States on a ship after several decades of faithful service in Africa. They served the Lord for years, and now they were coming home.

On that same ship was none other than Theodore Roosevelt, the former U.S. president. He was returning from his famous, big game hunt in Africa. Perhaps you've heard the story of that day when the ship finally docked in New York Harbor. Roosevelt was met with a huge, hero's welcome.

Thousands of people gathered to welcome him home. The press was there in full force. He was a hero coming home.

By contrast, not one person was there to greet the missionaries. There was no crowd to welcome them home, no celebration, no cheers, no cameras, no interviews. No one even noticed when they quietly walked off the ship, quietly flagged down a cab to take them to a hotel.

I've seen a couple different versions of this story, but they seem to agree on this—that the couple initially struggled with the situation, and you can imagine. Here they had given forty years of their lives in sacrificial service, sharing the gospel, laying down their lives for others. Here they come home, and no one notices. No one cares, not one, simple thank you.

The president, on the other hand, had been off killing animals, and the whole country took notice and hailed him as a hero. It didn't seem fair, and this couple was tempted to be discouraged, even resentful.

That night as they prayed together before going to bed, God gave to their hearts a thought that is just what they needed. It's what encouraged them, and it was this thought. "You're not home yet."

You're not home yet. You've had that long ride on the ship. You've come to New York, but you're not home yet.

When we get home, we can be assured there will be, for those who've been faithful servants—there will be a reward. There will be the mercy of God. “May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!” If that's all the reward we got, wouldn't that be enough—the mercy of God?

There's more than that. Jesus said in that Day, if we've been a good and faithful servant, we will hear Him say, “Well done. Well done.”

Moms, day after day—giving, serving, some of you single moms, pouring out your life trying to be a mom and dad to that kid, those children, barely making ends meet. You're being faithful. You're laboring. It's hard. You pour out, and you pour out, and you pour out. There are no cameras, no interviews, no applause, no bands, no one singing your praises.

Some of you have served in the church nursery for years. Those kids are now grown up, and who's thanked you? Precious little for what you've done.

Some of you in your work place, you've been a faithful servant of the Lord, faithful to the place where you serve, some of you serving in ministry. Some of the faithful servants in our ministry—Revive Our Hearts, Life Action Ministries, FamilyLife Today—some of them don't get a whole lot of thanks.

They don't get a whole lot of raises. They're not paid what they're worth. They're worth a whole lot more than what they're making, and yet they're serving faithfully.

It would be easy to be discouraged, and to think, some people, you know, these celebrities, they do so little, and they get so much praise. Remember, we're not home yet, and in that day when you hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of our Lord,” you will have your reward.

At that point, do you think it will matter that we didn't get all the praise here on earth? Do you think it will matter that no one sang our praises or wrote books about us or wrote articles or put our name in the paper or said thank you?

I mean, when Jesus says thank you, what more do you need? What more do you need? We're not home yet—almost, not quite.

I want to serve today in such a way that when I set foot on that shore, I can be assured that I'll hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been putting servanthood into perspective. When you're called on to tackle a project that's mundane, difficult, or thankless, remember eternity and the reward that's to come from the God who sees everything. Nancy will be right back to pray.

Today's program is part of the series Developing a Servant's Heart. Unpleasant tasks will come at you the rest of your life. I recommend putting these messages on your shelf or on your iPod or computer. When those thankless jobs come, listen to Nancy while you're tackling them. Her teaching is an invaluable help to any woman who wants to serve with a pure heart.

You can download each of the daily programs in this series at Revive Our Hearts.com. At the site you can also order the complete teaching on CD, or call 1-800-569-5959.  

Do you know that a team of people faithfully serve to make Revive Our Hearts possible? If you’re a regular listener to the program and want to serve with us at a deeper level, would you join our Ministry Partner team? You'll serve in these ways: by praying, by telling others about the program, and by giving each month. 

When you're part of this team, we'll send you a devotional each month called “Daily Reflections.” We’ll also send you one of Nancy’s books when you sign up. You’ll be able to attend a Revive Our Hearts conference at no charge each year. And you’ll get periodic communication from our team so that you’ll know how to effectively pray for the ministry.

Find out more about the Ministry Partner team when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.  

On Monday, Betsy Corning will share insights for moms about guiding a child’s heart.

Betsy Corning: When your child does encounter evil, and you've taught them what evil is, what the world is, and how it is counter to the things of God, they flee. They need to learn to flee temptation. But then they also need to internally decide how they manage those things.

Sometimes they just need to learn to repent of those things. But a key is to build self-control, but not just an outward behaviorial self-control. It has to be an inward surrendering to the Lord. It says, "I will set no abominal thing before my eyes." It's just that when children grow up with these lessons, when they encounter those things, they know they have a way back to the Lord through repentance.

Other times they need to learn to recognize evil and say, "I flee from that." And be able to come and tell their parents because they will hopefully have a connection with their parents that they can talk to them about it. I think the big thing is really to have a connection between parents and child.

Leslie: To close today’s program, here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, that You have granted mercy to us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Undeserved mercy and grace You have poured out upon us, and thank You that, as we extend mercy to others, we can know that we will receive even more mercy. As we serve others, we can know that our reward is coming.

We're not home yet, but we're heading that direction, and we want to live and serve today as faithful servants. Give us the heart of that of Onesiphorus. And I pray, Lord, for these who are listening, for some of these moms, single moms, women in the work force, single women who are serving You in our ministry and other ministries. I thank You for them, Lord.

Thank You for their heart. Thank You for their faithfulness. I pray that You will grant them mercy from You on that Day, and Lord, may the promise of that reward to come be sufficient to sustain us and encourage us through the service of this day. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

Topics: Christian Living

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