“They will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” (2 Chronicles 12:8)
Serving God is utterly different from serving anyone else.
God is extremely jealous that we understand this — and enjoy it. For example, he commands us, “Serve the Lord with gladness!” (Psalm 100:2). There is a reason for this gladness. It is given in Acts 17:25, “God is not served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.”
We serve him with gladness because we do not bear the burden of meeting his needs. Rather we rejoice in a service where he meets our needs. Serving God always means receiving grace from God.
To show how jealous God is for us to get this and glory in it, there is a story in 2 Chronicles 12. Rehoboam, the Son of Solomon, who ruled the southern kingdom after the revolt of the ten tribes, “forsook the law of the Lord” (12:1). He chose against serving the Lord and gave his service to other gods and other kingdoms. As judgment God sent Shishak, the king of Egypt, against Rehoboam with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen (12:3).
In mercy God sent the prophet Shemaiah to Rehoboam with this message: “Thus says the Lord, you abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak” (12:5). The happy upshot of that message is that Rehoboam and his princes humbled themselves in repentance and said, “The Lord is righteous” (12:6).
When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, he said, “They have humbled themselves, so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak” (12:7). But as a discipline to them he says, “They will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries” (12:8).
The point is plain: serving God is a receiving and a blessing and a joy and a benefit.
This is why I am so jealous to say that the worship of Sunday morning and the worship of daily obedience is not at bottom a burdensome giving to God but a joyful getting from God.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4