Three Principles for Serving God Harmoniously
By Ma Hui, Germany
As we all know, only if we serve God with one heart and mind can we obtain the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and can the church’s work be blessed by God. For the Lord Jesus told us, “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Mat 18:19).
But when we coordinate our service, Satan tries to disrupt it all the time. It always uses our corruption and rebelliousness to carry out its cunning schemes of disturbing and undermining God’s work and to prevent God’s will from being done. On the surface, Christians’ coordination in service looks to be a matter between the people involved. But in the spiritual world, it is actually a battle. If we do not understand the truth, we will not be able to see through Satan’s schemes, and we will often be used by it and be afflicted and mocked by it. Then we will become guarded with other people, and will attack and undermine one another. In the end, we will become arch-enemies with our colleagues and incapable of fulfilling our duties with one mind. Unknowingly, we will have fallen for Satan’s schemes and dismantled the work of the church.
Because we are often not able to see through Satan’s schemes, and have corrupt satanic dispositions, we often cannot be of one mind with our brothers and sisters and coordinate with them to serve the Lord. Sometimes when we have different opinions, ideas or understandings from our colleagues, being dominated by our arrogant nature we always insist that our colleagues listen to us, with the result that we all hold to our own opinions. Friction and estrangement are created, and our tempers flare up, getting obsessed with right and wrong. Sometimes when our colleagues and we are different in caliber and talents, we belittle those whose caliber is inferior to ours. We blow our own trumpet and go our own way, which causes problems for the church. Sometimes when what our colleagues do hurts our dignity or affects our personal interests, we are no longer as tolerant and patient as before, but attack or hurt them to protect our own interests, which result in the church’s work getting stuck.
If we have these problems coordinating with others, will our service be approved by God? Philippians chapter 2 verse 2 says: “Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Amos chapter 3 verse 3 says: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” If we are of one heart and mind with our colleagues, we can receive God’s work and approval. However, if we are not in agreement, we cannot walk together, and it will be difficult for us to let God’s will be carried out in us. Therefore, this type of service isn’t approved by God.
So, what principles should we Christians grasp to help us coordinate harmoniously with others?
Firstly, we should obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the principles of truth and not be willful or be restrained by other people.
It is normal to have different opinions from others concerning the problems arising in the church’s work, because the circumstances of our upbringing, the environment we live in and education we get are different. If we always demand that others listen to us, or use our status to put others down, then we are not acting in accordance with saintly propriety. If we want to serve God in a way that meets His intentions, we should seek the principles of truth rather than just listening to what people say. We shouldn’t follow the ways of others or our way, nor be constrained by position, power, knowledge, or reputation. We should seek God’s words and submit to the authority of His words. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). When our co-workers, colleagues, pastors or elders ask us to do some things that are not compatible with the Lord Jesus’ words, we should not obey them but should submit to the words of the Lord Jesus. If what they say conforms to the Lord’s words, then we should put ourselves aside and obey what comes from God.
When we hold different opinions on meaningless matters that have nothing to do with church principles, we can give way and not stick to our guns. For example, two sisters in our church who did hosting sometimes argued over what to cook for the brothers and sisters. Actually, there is just a difference of approach between them that does not concern the principles or the interests of the church at all. In such cases, if we stick to our opinions, then it is regarded as a revelation of our corrupt dispositions. Afterward, they were both willing to put their egos aside, and so the estrangement between them disappeared and they could coordinate harmoniously with each other.
Furthermore, we should learn to obey the enlightenment and guidance of the Holy Spirit. For example, when we have no idea how to deal with a matter we encounter, we should pray and seek the Lord. After that, even though we may not deliberately think about what to do, we will suddenly have a path to follow that we’ll consider to be relatively suitable and we’ll feel peace in our spirit. In this case, it is the Holy Spirit guiding us, and we should follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Just as Romans chapter 8 verse 5 states, “But they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” In addition, sometimes we have a disagreement with our colleagues. We originally think our idea is better than that of our colleagues, but we also have a vague feeling in our heart that we should not be too opinionated but take up their suggestion first, and we feel at ease when having that feeling. After following the guidance within us, we find that the suggestion of our colleagues is really good and benefits the work of the church more. Then we can confirm that the vague feeling comes from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that it is very critical for us to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Secondly, we should not seek to prevail over others but learn from each other.
It is written in Philippians 2:3–4: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” These verses show that struggling for fame and gain is not how Christians should live. We should be humble, and we should not be selfish but be more considerate toward others. However, because we have arrogant natures, we always want to show off, and it is easy for us to unwittingly belittle others, take all the credit for ourselves, and put the blame on others when mistakes happen in the church’s work. This leads to unharmonious coordination between others and us. If we can change our views on what to pursue, as these verses say, and no longer seek to exhibit ourselves but be humble, see others’ strengths and learn from them, then we will not be blindly conceited but will naturally be able to coordinate harmoniously with others.
In addition, we must know that every task of the church’s work needs to be completed through harmonious coordination between brothers and sisters, and this is not something that a single person can accomplish. Only through cooperative work can the church reach better results in its work. After all, no one is a jack-of-all-trades, and everyone has many shortcomings and deficiencies. If we serve God based on our individual abilities, it is not easy to make the church’s work fully effective, and sometimes we even cause deviations to occur in the work and damage it. If we coordinate with the brothers and sisters in service, we can complement each other in different degrees and thus prevent some mistakes. Just as 1 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 12 says, “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body.” Every one of us is a member, so only through our coordination can we complete what God entrusts to us. Just like in the Age of Law, Jehovah God asked Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. However, Moses could not complete God’s commission independently because of his clumsiness of speech. Therefore, God raised up Aaron to be the voice of Moses. They performed their own duties, coordinated with each other, and finally led the Israelites out of Egypt and completed God’s commission. Likewise, today the church arranges for us to coordinate with each other in service in order that the church can reach better results in its work. So we should not see only the shortcomings in our colleagues, belittle them, or hurt them. We should look at things from a different perspective, and regard our colleagues as our helpers. This way, the problems of the church can be solved and we will have a harmonious partnership with others. This is hugely beneficial for the work of the church and each other’s growth in life.
Thirdly, we should work for a common goal and provide for and support each other in spirit.
It is written in Philippians 2:1–2: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill you my joy, that you be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Ephesians chapter 4 verse 3 says, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” From these verses, we can see that if we Christians want to have a harmonious partnership with each other, we must have a common goal, be one in spirit, and achieve accord in order to complete God’s commission. Then, no matter what disputes or conflicts there are between us, we will all think about how we should do things in a way that lets God’s will be carried out, no longer maintain our own opinions, and instead put aside our personal interests and plans. At that time, we will have achieved unity.
We Christians should be one externally and internally. Sometimes, on the outside, there are no disputes between us. But internally, we don’t not love, take care of or help each other at all, and so there is no tacit agreement in spirit. We each only take care of our own affairs. There is no genuine union. The manifestations of genuine union are: Finding that there exists real problems in the church, or that brothers and sisters encounter some difficulties and feel negative and weak, everyone seeks and prays with one heart and mind; if a co-worker makes a mistake in his or her work, we realize that not only they but also everyone else is responsible for dealing with it for it involves the work of the church, and then we try to understand the problem clearly and seek a remedy together; when someone meets difficulties, we help him or her with a loving heart, and look to God and seek the solution together; if we gain enlightenment and illumination in God’s words, we fellowship and share them with one another so that we can help each other’s spiritual life grow; if we find that some actions of our colleagues are not in line with the Lord’s will, we are not afraid of giving offense but instead raise the issues with them, which not only is helpful to them but also lets them learn a lesson and take warning from the issues. … This is true and mutual love in spirit among Christians. Our being one, just as the phrase suggests, means that we are a whole unit, that is, we put our heart toward and work for a common goal without selfishness, without standing alone, and without division, living together as a family.
As is known to all, the Israelites served Jehovah God with reverent hearts, never daring to violate His laws and commandments. Due to their serving God faithfully, they saw many deeds of God and received His care and protection, and in the end His grace was always with them. This was the secret of their success when serving God. Today, we do not wear priests’ robes and serve God in the temple, but we are those who work in the church. If we do not grasp the principles of harmonious coordination, the work of the church will not be blessed by God, and we will in the end not be approved by God because of not serving Him in a way that meets His intentions. But if we grasp the principles of harmonious coordination, we will have hope of becoming people who are fit to be God’s servants. Just as Deuteronomy chapter 10 verse 12 says, “But to fear Jehovah your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” We can clearly see the importance of harmonious coordination in service between Christians.