When we speak of thriving in Christ, much attention is given to a proper understanding of God’s work in us, and rightfully so. However, our thriving is also affected by our actions. Specifically, I want to look at how serving God and others empowers a believer to thrive.
First, let me clearly state that our service to God is not necessary because God lacks the ability to accomplish something. Our service to Him is not a reflection of His neediness, but ours. Each and every one of us has been created with a need to serve. In fact, we have been created and gifted to partner with the Lord in fulfilling His purposes.
Peter addresses the importance and purpose of serving God in 1 Peter 4:10-11: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” All believers have received at least one spiritual gift from God, and we are not to hoard these gifts but use them to bring Him glory. No matter what our gift(s) we are not to depend on our own strength but draw our power from God, so that God alone “may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” We receive our gifts from God to serve Him and others. In doing so, we bring Him praise. In our service, the Lord is glorified, we are blessed, and others benefit.
God receives glory when we serve because it is His transforming power that is on display in our lives as we exchange selfishness for selflessness. This is why Peter declares that we ought to recognize that all we do, whether speaking or serving, is to be done on behalf of God to others. He gives us the ability and strength to partner with Him and gives us purpose in our service. It is with this awareness that we direct all credit toward Him instead of ourselves. This causes the believer to standout and leads others to take notice of the life-change that occurs in a believer’s life. This not only validates our faith to others but also draws others to Him.
When we work, and yes serve, on our own behalf, and for our own purpose, it is for survival. When we work and serve on God’s behalf, and for His purpose, we are empowered to thrive. Surviving speaks of barely having enough. Thriving is having more than enough. When we serve by God’s power and leading, we give out of the overflow, serving and thriving in His name.
This is at the heart of what Paul writes to us in Romans 12: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2). “Therefore” points back to the saving work of God Paul has written of in the previous eleven chapters. We, Christians, are to give ourselves entirely to God because of His saving grace. The believer is to give their whole being to God as a living sacrifice. We are to use our new life in Christ for His glory.
This present age still threatens everyone, even those who belong to Christ. Believers are called to resist its pressure. Through the transforming power of God, our lives are changed, and our minds are made new, making us able to “discern” God’s will.
Paul points out that those who have been saved by the finished work of Christ, who died for our sins and resurrected for our salvation, it only makes sense to honor Him. Our giving of ourselves is our spiritual act of worship. It is the reasonable response. We serve the God who has provided the greatest service of all. We have been given salvation from sin and self and have received eternal life with Him. God has taken us out of the realm of mere existence and surviving into one with divine purpose and thriving.
Life is filled with its own difficulties. It is tempting to fall into survival mode and make sure we have what we need. God has a better plan. He calls and empowers us to serve Him and others as we thrive in Him. We can either choose to run on the hamster wheel of survival or empowered by the Spirit of God thrive as we journey down His path. I hope each of us chooses to thrive. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!