Wednesdays with Watson is a weekly reading taken from my favorite Puritan writer, Thomas Watson. This week’s selection is from The Godly Man’s Picture.
God’s service is the best service. There are six privileges in God’s service:
(i) Freedom. Though the saints are bound to God’s service, yet they serve him freely. God’s Spirit, who is called a ‘free Spirit’ (Psa. 51:12), makes them free and cheerful in obedience. The Spirit carries them on the wings of delight; he makes duty a privilege; he does not force, but draw. He enlarges the heart in love and fills it with joy. God’s service is perfect freedom.
(ii) Honour. David the king professed himself one of God’s pensioners: ‘I am thy servant’ (Psa. 143:12). St Paul, when he wants to blaze his coat of arms, and set forth his best heraldry, does not call himself ‘Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews’, or ‘Paul, of the tribe of Benjamin’, but ‘Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 1:1). Theodosius thought it greater dignity to be God’s servant, than to be an emperor. Christ himself, who is equal with his Father, is nevertheless not ashamed of the title ‘servant’ (Isa. 53:11). Every servant of God is a son, every subject a prince. It is more honour to serve God than to have kings serve us. The angels in heaven are servants of the saints on earth.
(iii) Safety. God takes care of his servants. He gives them protection: ‘Thou art my servant; fear not; for I am with thee’ (Isa. 41:9, 10). God hides his servants: ‘in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me’ (Psa. 27:5). That is, he shall keep me safe, as in the most holy place of the sanctuary, where none but the priests might enter. Christ’s wings are both for healing and for hiding, for curing and securing us (Mal. 4:2). The devil and his instruments would soon devour the servants of God, if he did not set an invisible guard about them, and cover them with the golden feathers of his protection (Psa. 91:4). ‘I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee’ (Acts 18:10). God’s watchful eye is always on his people, and the enemies shall not do the mischief they intend; they shall not be destroyers, but physicians.
(iv) Gain. Atheists say, ‘It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances?’ (Mal. 3:14). Besides the advantages which God gives in this life (sweet peace of conscience), he reserves his best wine till last; he gives a glorious kingdom to his servants (Heb. 12:28). The servants of God may for a while be kept under and abused, but they shall have promotion at last: ‘where I am, there shall also my servant be’ (John 12:26).
(v) Assistance. Other masters cut out work for their servants, but do not help them in their work. But our Master in heaven gives us not only work, but strength: ’thou strengthens me with strength in my soul’ (Psa. 138:3). God bids us serve him, and he will enable us to serve him: ‘I will cause you to walk in my statutes’ (Ezek. 36:27). The Lord not only fits work for us, but fits us for our work; with his command he gives power.
(vi) Supplies. A master will not let his servants be in want. God’s servants shall be provided for: ‘verily thou shalt be fed’ (Psa. 37:3). Does God give us a Christ, and will he deny us a crust? ‘The God which fed me all my life long’ (Gen. 48:15). If God does not give us what we crave, he will give us what we need. The wicked, who are dogs, are fed (Phil. 3:2). If a man feeds his dog, surely he will feed his servant! Oh, then, who would not be in love with God’s service?