Happiness Is Found in Service, Not in Selfishness

   Written by on July 13, 2017 at 9:46 am

logo-hevenerAlthough the world has seen many teachers, the greatest was Jesus Christ, who taught by example and parable.  In addition, He taught truth, for He, being both human and divine, was the source of truth!  His teaching of truth was assertive, captivating, lasting and, consequently, highly satisfying.  Most importantly, however, Jesus is remembered for the plan of salvation, which cost Him ridicule, pain, suffering, and, finally, His life.  This plan makes it possible for sinful man to gain immortality at the resurrection. (1 Corinthians 15)

  The parable is a short story with two levels of meaning; it has an outer, obvious story line, but it also has an inner meaning, a subtle, profound spiritual meaning.  One of Jesus’ most treasured parables is the one in which He describes a very successful farmer.  The story is found in Luke 12: 16-21: 16 “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (NIV)

Why was God displeased with this farmer?  Was it because he was successful as a crop farmer?  No, for it was God who blessed him with the bountiful crop. It seems clear that God was unhappy with the farmer because of the way the farmer planned to use his newly- found wealth.  He was planning to use this wealth on himself; friend, he was selfish. He was also foolish for thinking that happiness would come in the form of eating, drinking, and carousing. This philosophy is known as hedonism, which places the greatest values in life on having a “good time,” satisfying self, and refraining from labor, becoming a “couch potato”!

The farmer’s value system went something like this: first, I will stop work, rest, recline; second, I will satisfy my taste by eating excessively; third, I will find joy in what we can assume to be alcoholic wine; fourth, I will use all of this wealth for myself!  You see, his value system ignored the needs of the poor, the homeless, refugees, and the sick.  Jesus reminded his followers that when they serve the needy, they are actually serving Him, for they are his children. (Matthew 25:40) It was God who blessed the farmer.  He, therefore, should have honored this blessing by passing it on to others. It was Jesus who said that He came not to be served, but to serve. (Matthew 20:28)

The farmer did not understand that long-term happiness is found in service, not in selfishness! Bible writers have much to say about the value of serving God and our fellow-man; here are three examples:

1 Samuel 12:24, “Fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” (ESV)

1 Peter 4:10,  “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (NIV)
Galatians 5:13, “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.”  (MSG)

It is true. Long-term happiness is found in service. If you aren’t persuaded, this very moment I invite you to decide to give it a try.  You will discover that it is “more blessed (brings greater happiness) to give than to receive”! (Acts 20:35)   Until next week, may God richly bless you and yours!

Contact: fhevener@oilart.com; (434) 392-6255; www.guthriememorial.org.

© 2017 by Fillmer Hevener

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