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Education

The Servant of God Must Be All In

04.01.2019

Can we really serve God with everything?

 

Professor Stephen Clark teaches a lesson on servanthood from Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Most of us have a fairly inaccurate idea of what the term servanthood meant in the time that Scripture was written. We speak about serving on the worship team or serving on the missions board, as if being a servant merely involves an occasional commitment to something we might not normally do.

But when I come across servant in Scripture, I have found it helpful to insert the word slave as the equivalent English word. Serving was not a pleasant, intermittent role; it involved absolute and continual obedience to one’s master, with no hope of pleasing oneself or seeking one’s own interests. (I experienced this during basic training in the US Army, when every minute of my life was controlled by a single master.)

This is why Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 6:24—it is impossible to be a servant to two masters at one time.

It is interesting to consider why Jesus chose money (or possessions) as the alternative master to whom most of us are drawn. He fully understood that, at the deepest level, fallen humans seek above all else to acquire and hold on to those things that make life more pleasant and comfortable. It seems to make little difference whether one starts from a position of relative poverty or relative wealth; we all want more.

And in order to get more, we have to commit our time and energy to the process, making it impossible to simultaneously be a servant of God. Divided loyalty, which most of us would prefer, is not an option.

The servant of God must be all-in.

The irony is that, in the immediately following verses, Jesus tells us that if we will commit to being His servants, He will provide everything we need—clothing, food, drink—and will remove the anxiety that is our constant companion when our master is money and possessions.

So rather than giving up things when we commit to serving God, we gain all that we need and countless blessings beside! I found this to be wonderfully true in years of missions work in a remote part of the world.

As the hymn writer Thomas Chisholm put it many years ago:

Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me. . . .
I own no other Master,
My heart shall be Thy throne.

Stephen Clark’s life of faithful servanthood

Stephen Clark, program head of Applied Linguistics, received the 2019 Faculty Citation Award at Founder’s Week, pictured above. Each year the Alumni Association chooses one faculty member, nominated by peers and students, to honor for their distinguished service.

Formerly a Bible translator in Papua New Guinea, Professor Clark has taught in Moody Bible Institute’s Intercultural Studies Division since 1996. Under his leadership, many students have gone on to work in the field of Bible translation and missions.

Clark, who retires in May, thanked the Lord for leading him to Moody and for giving him the “amazing experience of teaching.” He expressed his love for teaching linguistics, for Moody faculty, and for his students: “They’re just amazing. They have inspired me, they have challenged me, they have encouraged me in my own walk with the Lord, and it’s been such an honor to be part of their lives in a very small way. So thank you all very much. To God be the glory.”

To hear more about the life and ministry of Stephen Clark, watch the Faculty Citation Award video tribute at https://www.moody.edu/alumni/about/awards/

 

 

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