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Serving God by Letting Go of the Past

Blog Serving God by Letting Go of the Past

A message from Pastor James Exline

Oftentimes, those in active addiction do not understand what it means to serve the Lord.

The definition of serve: “to be a slave to, to be in bondage to, to obey, submit to, yield to, give one’s self up to.”

When you serve the Lord, you gain so much more from life than when you serve your addiction.

Joshua 24.15 says, “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve…as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” This verse urges us to make a decision, whom are we going to serve? At first, the notion of serving (obeying, submitting to, giving one’s self over to) may not be appealing. We may even argue that we would never do so. However, Joshua makes it clear that, whether we like it or not, we are serving someone or something. Notice it does not say to choose whether or not we are going to serve; it says to choose whom we will serve.

In Matthew 6.24, Jesus expounds on this same theme. He says, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other…”God asks us to serve Him, to give Him our all and to walk away from our past lives. He wants us to be fully devoted to Him. Some may think that He is asking too much. They say, ‘I love God, but I don’t like the idea of having to give Him my all.’

Costs of Serving an Addiction

That notion of not wanting to serve something or someone can be ironic, especially for the addict and alcoholic. After all, it is rare to find someone so intent on serving (according to the above definition) than the way the addict serves his drug of choice. They are wiling to sacrifice everything for that next high, and the next, and the next and the serving goes on and on. Robbing family and strangers alike, stealing, lying—whatever their drug demands, the addict willingly sacrifices in order to “gain” whatever it is that the drug will deliver.

What does the addict gain? That list is a long, depressing one: broken relationships, failed marriages, legal issues (including jail and prison time) and loss of health; this list goes on and on.

Sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it? In exchange for your all, addiction will wreak havoc on your life and will destroy you. John 10.10a: The thief (the devil) has come to rob, kill, and destroy. Joshua declares that he chooses to serve the Lord; a decision, just like the decision to serve addiction, comes with both costs and gains.

Gains from Serving the Lord

In Matthew 16.25-26, Jesus says, “If you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” There they are in that verse explaining the costs and the gains of serving the Lord. First, what is the cost of serving—everything! We must be willing to forsake our old way of life, our sin, our selfishness, and our desire to serve our drug of choice.

As a result of serving the Lord and giving him our very lives, we in turn gain our lives! In John 10.10b, Jesus makes us a promise about our lives when we choose to serve the Lord. In it, he says that unlike the thief who comes to destroy, he came to give us an abundant life, a life free from the bondage of addiction. He gives us a life marked with meaning and purpose, an abundant life that will continue throughout all of eternity.

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