Saturday, October 27, 2012

1st Clement 40 to 41 - Serving God in proper order

Clement reminds us that those who server God should do so in proper order.
"These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behoves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours." (1 Clement 40)
Sometimes, the "proper time" has less to do with the time of day and more to do with the time, or phase, of our lives. Men and women are often called to serve God yet the actual fulfillment of their "calling" can be several years away. Years can occur between calling and acting. There is often several years of preparation necessary to meed the needs of the "calling". Jesus spoke about that servant who, "knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will." (Luke 12:47 NKJV) There is knowing God's will and there is preparing to do His will.

Consider Moses who, when it entered his mind to check out the state of his brethren,
"And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand." (Acts 7:24-25)
Moses understood his calling and thought that his brethren would also understand it, yet he acted at the wrong time and in his own strength. The result was forty years in the desert letting God prepare his heart for the calling God had on his life.

Clement also reminds us to serve God where we are called.
"Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not." (1 Clement 40)
God not only specifies the "where" but also the "by whom". Sometimes we need to understand the limits of what God has called us to. Sometimes we need to be willing to let things remain undone knowing that we have not been called to perform every task. If we always do everything then those whose task those are will continue to remain idle. Clement instructs us,
Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. (1 Clement 41)
Consider the case of King Saul who waited seven days for Samuel to arrive and perform the sacrifices. However, Samuel delayed and Saul became impatient. "So Saul said, 'Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.' And he offered the burnt offering." (1 Samuel 13:9) Unfortunately, it was not Saul's place to offer sacrifices. No sooner had he finished sacrificing that Samuel showed up, and the news was not good for Saul.
"Samuel said to Saul, 'You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.' " (1 Samuel 13:13-14)
Not only must we serve God at the proper time but also within the proper limits He has established for our lives; limiting ourselves to the "ministry" allotted to us by God. We must avoid overreaching our calling, timing, and place in God. To do so is to invite trouble into our lives and danger to His body.
"Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death. Ye see, brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed." (1 Clement 41)
Let us stop trying to be someone else, or worse, everyone else, and learn to be content with who God has made us and how He has called us. Let us learn to serve God in this way and, in so doing, we will be blessed by God.

David Robison

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