By Dr. Richard Ing
June 24, 2002
THE GOAL OF YOUR HEART
In our earlier studies, we spoke about how God has two
eternal purposes: to have mature sons and daughters in the image of His Son
Jesus, and to have a glorious church that will be the bride of Jesus when He
returns. Fulfilling His purposes has
been the cry of our hearts and the vision of this church. Whether your goal is to be in the army of
God, the woman in the wilderness or the martyrs described in Revelation 12, it
will take great spiritual maturity on your part. The woman in the wilderness (the true church)
and the man-child (army of God) are the only Christians who will make it
through alive. The martyrs will give
their lives for the sake of the Lord’s great name, but will be resurrected and
rule the nations for a thousand years thereafter. Rev. 6:11; 113-12; 12:17; 20:4,5.
It is imperative that we grow into the image of Jesus
Christ (Ro. 8:29; 2 Co. 3:18) and that the
church begin to come together as one mighty army and true church.
What exactly is spiritual maturity? While we cannot fully explain spiritual
maturity in this short writing, we know that possessing the moral character of
the Lord is essential. While spiritual
gifts are more impressive to man, God looks deep within the heart where none
can see. Jer. 17:10; Rev. 2:23.
No matter how anointed you are, no matter how high a
position you occupy, or how great fame you have and power you possess, and no
matter how many demons you helped cast out or people you helped heal, no matter
how many visions and prophecies you had, or miracles you did, God will never
accept those things as a measure of spiritual maturity. He will look inside of your heart to see how
much of the fruit of the Spirit you possess and the motive of your heart.
In Galatians 5:19-23, Paul distinguishes the works of the
flesh from the fruit of the Spirit. He
uses the word “fruit” and not “fruits” because everything that is described in
Galatians 5:22-23 portrays the heart of one person - our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His character that constitutes the
fruit of the Spirit. Although it is not
the sum total of who Jesus is, it is the external evidence of the character and
nature that God wants in our heart. The
more of the fruit of the Spirit manifested in our daily activities, the more of
Jesus we have allowed to possess our hearts and lives. The more fruit of the Spirit we show in our
relationships with each other and the church, the more mature we are in the
WHY SPIRITUAL MATURITY?
As mentioned above, only the spiritually mature will make
it through until the very end. All the
rest will fall away and lose their salvation.
2 Th. 2:3. Other Bibles use the
word “rebellion” and “apostasy” instead of “falling away.” All these words indicate one thing - most of
the immature in the church, will renounce the truth and turn away from
Christianity. Deception will be so great
that “if it were possible, even the elect shall be deceived.” Mt. 24:24.
Growing into spiritual maturity requires more than just
memorizing Bible scriptures or putting on a façade of holiness. It requires almost a total change in
attitudes and purposes that run your life.
While reading the Bible and knowing scriptures are important, it is the
incorporating of those scriptures into your heart and life that count. You can read a book on auto mechanics from
cover to cover many times, but it will not transform you into an auto mechanic
of any skill. It is the doing that
counts. Many Christians know the Bible
inside and out, but it has never changed their hearts. Countless Christians diligently attend church
every week and never grow spiritually.
WHAT IS SPIRITUAL
Spiritual maturity can probably best be described as
having the heart of God. The Bible shows
us that God cherishes those who seek after His own heart. David was such a man. He wasn’t perfect, but he desired to have the
heart of God. “I have found David the
son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my
will.” Ac. 13:22. We all know that David was so beloved of God
that He promised that there would always be a son of David on the throne
forever. Jesus calls Himself the root
and offspring of David, thus fulfilling that prophecy. Jer. 33:17; Rev. 23:16.
The Holy Spirit was given to us, to live in us, for the
purpose of guiding us into all truth and to change our hearts. But the Holy Spirit will never force you to
change. What is in the heart is exposed
by what we say and sometimes by what we do.
What comes out of the mouth is the “fruit” of what is in our heart.
Our quest is to be like Jesus in heart and mind.
HOW IS SPIRITUAL MATURITY
The fruit of the Spirit is manifested by and through our
relationships with one another and the church.
You cannot display love, joy, peace, gentleness and so forth by living
in a cave. The fruit of the Spirit is
evidenced by how we treat one another and by the attitudes, purposes, goals and
intentions by which we live our lives.
Many have a higher opinion of themselves than is real, but it is how you
relate to people and circumstances that prove what is in your heart. You cannot stand afar off and claim that you
love someone. Love demands action. There are many books written about love and
the fruit of the Spirit. But, Jesus gave
us one clear criterion or test in the Bible.
This test is so opposite human nature that following it will test you to
the maximum. It is found in Matthew
20:26,27. It might be wise to compare
our attitudes with what Jesus says.
In Matthew 20:26,27, the Lord said, “ … but whosoever
will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief
among you, let him be your servant.” Also,
Mk. 10:43-45. In the Greek, the word
“servant” is actually interpreted “slave.”
Greatness in the eyes of God is determined by how much you minister to
and serve others - in church, at home, in the neighborhood, in the city where
you live, everywhere. Spiritual maturity
is gauged by how much of a servant’s heart you have. You don’t have to be highly intelligent,
educated, good-looking, physically
strong or possess a great personality and charm. All you have to do is serve.
Many claim that they serve God, but God chose a very odd
way of having His people serve Him. He
said that serving others is serving Him.
In Matthew 25:31-46, our Lord says,
When the Son of man shall come in
His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall he sit upon the throne
of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall
separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep on his right
hand, but the goats on the left. Then
shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I
was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in
prison, and ye came unto me.
shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and
fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed
thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in
prison, and came unto thee?
the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye
have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto
shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered,
and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink: I was a
stranger, and ye took me not in: naked,
and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
shall they also answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or
athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not
minister unto thee?
shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not
to one of the least of these, ye did it not unto me.
these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life
The church is the testing
ground. Whatever you do to serve the
church and its members, you do it unto the Lord. Whatever you refuse to do, you refuse it unto
the Lord. How good are you at serving
your church and its members?
Many claim that they obey God, and do not have to obey
man. They are wrong. Direct commands from God are rare; instead,
God chooses to use men to delegate his authority and give His commands. Disobedience to those in spiritual authority
is the same as disobedience to God and obedience to God’s delegated authority
is the same as obedience to God. He
never meant the saints to be renegades and self-appointed apostles, prophets
and evangelists. He intended all saints
to work together in harmony. Likewise,
you cannot claim to serve God and not serve man at the same time. Even as most of God’s commands to you are
indirect (through His delegated authority), most tasks of service to God are
indirect - by serving those around you.
Serving the brethren is the same as serving God and vice versa. It is like God is saying, “Go and help Alice
and Jim. Serve the church for me. Establish my kingdom on earth. Show the world my love.”
I remember the words of a wise leader (I forget who it
was) long ago. He was giving advice to
those who wanted to serve God. He said,
in effect, “If you really want to serve the Lord and make a real difference,
don’t look for the biggest, most well-organized church in town. They don’t need you. Look for the small, poor church that needs
lots of help. Then go join and serve
that church with all your heart.”
Christians today do mostly the opposite.
They look for the church from which they can get the most for
themselves. They are more interested in
being served than in serving.
Once on a trip to Fiji, our team was taken care of by
various members in the local church. On
our way home , one couple related to me how they were so humbled and blessed by
the family that put them up for a week.
Their Fijian hosts kept saying that they felt so bad that they received
all the blessings because they were chosen from among many families to have the
privilege of feeding and housing part of the team from Hawaii.
They had been chosen several times in the past couple of years. The couple had surrendered their master
bedroom to the Hawaii
couple and woke up early every morning to prepare breakfast and all their
meals. They were so happy to be able to
serve. Amazingly, within the previous
year, their only son had drowned. He was
only ten years old. The Fijian couple
shared about how God had brought them through the dark times and they knew that
their beloved son was in heaven and they wanted so very badly to see him
again. They shared that they didn’t have
much talent to teach or be leaders, but they knew how to serve others. They volunteered for almost everything that
needed to be done and vowed to serve the church with all their heart. They wanted to make sure that they pleased
the Lord so that they could go to heaven to see their beloved son.
When I saw the Fijian couple, there was a glow and
softness on their faces that you couldn’t help but notice. There was a love, peace, joy, gentleness and
meekness that was beautiful to see. They
smiled and laughed so easily and we felt like we knew them for a long
time. I will always remember them. They had found the secret to God’s heart.
It would seem that if serving others is your purpose in
life and your treasure in heaven, then you should be looking around for things
to do for others, instead of waiting for people to ask for help. If we store up treasures in heaven by helping
others, it is us that should be thankful for the privilege of helping
others. We should be thanking those we
help. Don’t you think? If no one wanted you to help them, how could
you store up treasures in heaven?
As your pastor, I have absolutely no desire that you do
anything for me. I am happy when you
serve the church because my only concern is that you please our Lord. He is pleased when you love His body, the
church, and His desire is that you become a servant to all. It is then that the fruit of the Spirit is
manifested in your life and heart and you begin to mature spiritually.
I know that there are other things that we must learn in
order to reach spiritual maturity, but servant hood is a major and
Why of all things would the Lord use the heart of a true
servant to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit and spiritual maturity? No doubt, the heart of a true servant
contains all of the fruit of the Spirit in abundance. A true servant serves out of love, not just
out of duty, fear or hope of reward. In
the Old Testament, family or personal debts were sometimes paid off by
servitude for many years. For instance,
a son of a debtor may serve twenty years as a slave in order to pay off his
family’s debt. Often, the slave is even
allowed to marry and have a family while serving. His master becomes responsible for the upkeep
of the family and the entire family serves the master. No doubt, many good servants were treated as
part of the family. At the end of his
agreed-upon term of servitude, the servant may choose to continue to be a
servant in the household. If that is so,
and the master agrees, the servant stands next to the side post of the front
door and the master drives an awl through the earlobe of the servant. The hole in the earlobe will be used to hang
an earring which identifies the servant as a “bond slave” of the household for
life. Ex. 21:1-6. The bond servant or slave says publicly, “I
will serve my master in love for the rest of my life. I do not want to go free.”
The bond slave voluntarily chooses to bond himself to his
master for life out of love for his master.
Although he is a free man and could have left the household, he makes a
personal choice to continue serving the master he loves. It is not the pay that he desires, because a
servant is paid only a pittance for his personal needs. He chooses to serve out of love. In return, the master loved the servant and
took care of the servant and the servant’s family as if they were his own sons
and daughters. The apostle Paul described
himself as a bond slave to Jesus. He
served the Lord by serving the Lord’s people and doing the work of the
Lord. Love for the master was the
motivation of his life.
Because of his love for the master, everything that he
did was an act of love that brought joy and peace to the bond slave. He would not have bonded himself to his
master unless that master was a good master who loved the slave too. The bond slave could live in joy and peace,
knowing that his master would take care of all of his needs as he would a
son. Thus, we learn love, joy, peace,
gentleness, meekness and goodness by serving others.
Jesus came as a bond slave - in the form of a
servant. Phil. 2:7. He came to serve. Lk. 22:27.
It was the will of God. Heb.
10:7. He who desires to be like Jesus
must become a servant at heart. In Acts.
3:26, Jesus is called the Servant of God.
God called Moses “My servant.”
David was called “God’s servant.”
Ps. 119:125; Ps. 119:135, 140.
The apostles called themselves bondservants. Ro. 1:1 (Paul); Phil. 1:1 (Paul and Timothy);
Ja. 1:1 (James); 2 Pet. 1:1 (Peter); Jude 1:1 (Jude); Rev. 1:1 (John). The physical act of driving a hole into the
ear lobe was replaced by the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross. As the apostle Paul said, “… I bear in my
body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Gal.
6:17. The true servants of God bear in
their body the marks of a bond slave. It
is God’s will that we have the heart of a bondservant.
The true church has to be made up of servants. No matter what the form of structure the
church has - open church, house groups, para-church, etc., without faithful
servants, it will never grow and mature.
When the members have no intention of serving the church and its
members, it will slowly die. Even large
churches with much money and property can remain immature and Laodicean to the
core. The church is meant by God to be
the testing ground for the saints to learn how to be bond slaves.
How can we learn to obey God when we cannot even obey our
leaders? And how can we learn to be bond
slaves when we don’t even know how to serve the church, which is the body of
Christ? How does your pastor and the
leaders view you - the served or the servant?
How do you discern the body of Christ?
A DIFFERENT PURPOSE IN
We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom living in a foreign
land - ambassadors of God in a foreign country.
Our real home is heaven and we are servants of God. Our purpose in life is different from the
rest of the world. We live to serve
while others live to be served. Wherever
we live is only temporary and our short life on earth is as a drop of water
compared to the ocean. Our real life
will go on and on through eternity. What
we are going through now is the testing ground that will determine where we
will live for the rest of eternity - on the throne of almighty God or at the
bottom levels of heaven. Some may even
end up somewhere else. No matter what we
suffer while on earth, it will end soon enough and then eternity. We have only one chance to serve the Lord on
earth, and then the judgment.
King David’s life was marked by a burning desire to obey
God and to have a heart like God’s It
became the purpose of his life from the time he was a shepherd boy, unknown and
ignored. He was a nobody that even his
father and brothers disregarded when Samuel, the prophet, came to anoint one of
the family as the next king of Judah.
“Oh yeah, we have one more son. I
forgot.” But God knew David and loved
him more than anyone else. He knew that
David had a true servant’s heart and would obey and fulfill all of God’s
will. While King Saul wanted the world
to serve him, David just wanted to serve and obey God.
A couple of years ago, while returning to Santa Rosa from Batangas,
all the passengers were asleep. I was
looking back on the day’s activities when I heard a voice saying, “Give Me the
glory!” God then spoke right into my
spirit and said among other things, “All I am looking for is one man who will
obey Me!” God is looking for people who
will obey the Master - people who are true bond slaves to Jesus.
The very first verse in the Book of Revelation (Amplified
Bible version) says, “[This is] the revelation of Jesus Christ [His
unveiling of the divine mysteries], God gave it to Him to disclose and make
known to His bond servants certain things which must shortly and
speedily come to pass in their entirety.
And He sent and communicated it through His angel (messenger) to His bond
servant John.” Isn’t it
interesting that the Book of Revelation was written specifically for His bond
servants and meant to be disclosed and made known to His bond servants and no
others? Perhaps that is why many
churches feel that the Book of Revelation is irrelevant. Only a select few will understand it because
it is for God’s true bond servants that the Book of Revelation was
written. I pray that you become a true
bond servant - a spiritually mature saint, the elect of God. Then you will no doubt make it through these
perilous times and receive a great reward in heaven.