“God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth.”
O my soul. What wonders do the skies contain! The sun in all its fiery majesty, the moon in all its silent beauty, the stars in all their vast dominion invite our finite minds to behold a bit of infinity. They existed before our birth - all births - and they observe our brief lives until the day they shed light upon our graves. And yet for all their grandeur and ancient wisdom God constructed them for service: “to give light on the earth.”
There is a lesson to be learned from these lights. Greatness is not measured by the number of servants we have. Greatness is measured by the number of people we serve. The greatest souls have always been the greatest servants. This is what Jesus taught. “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant (Matthew 23:11).” Oh that I might learn from the Heavenly Academy this lesson in Celestial Humility!
J. Gresham Machen (1881 – 1937) seemed to know this. I read a brief account of his life today, written by a man who may be the last living student who sat under this theological giant. Few have ascended to Machen’s level in Biblical scholarship and insight. But those close to him remember most his humble service and love toward his students. He opened his home and table to their fellowship. He opened his wallet and gave liberally to provide meaningful times together, even taking his students to football games and fine restaurants. “Don’t be a tightwad” he would whimsically chide his pupils. He would host a “checker club” in his apartment, a time for games and snacks and mixing with the young seminarians. His greatness was demonstrated in service.
The supreme example of greatness exemplified in service is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is the greatest heavenly Light, the “Sun of Righteousness” arising with “healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2).” Though He was God, He “made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7).” No greater service has ever been rendered on earth. The blood of Christ has done more good to more souls than we will ever fully know in this life. The hymnist put it well:
“When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o'er life's finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know -
Not till then - how much I owe.”
What about you, o my soul? As 2011 stands here before you…what goals have you set, what plans have you made, what resolutions have you written? Maybe the focus I should have is that lesson learned from the sun and stars, learned from men like Machen, and learned most fully from Christ Himself. "Give light on the earth." Set thy soul on service! Help more, give more, love more, assist more, pray more in this coming year than ever before. This is my resolution…so help me God!