Serving God – Profitably? – Mosiah 2:21

First of all:

“21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”- Mosiah 2:21

I know that this scripture says that – even if we do serve the Lord with our whole souls, we’re unprofitable servants. I agree that this is true – as far as we are always in a deficit when it comes to God. We always “owe” Him. When we do good, He blesses us, so then we “owe” him even more.

For now, though, I don’t want to talk about being profitable in this way. Even though we can’t be profitable servants, we still need to serve God -and we can give an offering that is profitable. We don’t need to give up on service, or render useless service just because God we are always in a deficit. (follow?)

Okay…now come with me down a different track for a second…

“6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.

8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

9 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.

10 Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.

11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.” – Moroni 7:6-11

I’ve always read this and I’ve kind of thought – why can’t an “evil” person do something good and it be counted as good? I mean, good is good, right? Shouldn’t we just judge the deed as being good – rather than judging the giver of the deed?

But I think that I kind of missed the point. Another scripture helped me to understand a little bit better.

“12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” – Romans 3:12

So – “gone out of the way” signifies a distancing from God – or, in other words, being evil. Because they had gone out of the way, they had become wicked. Even though God had once covenanted with them, they turned their backs to Him. Yet, they still kept the outward parts of the law. They probably served. They probably paid tithing. However, even though they are going through the motion of giving service and offerings to God, they are considered “unprofitable.”

As I read Romans, I think that unprofitable means that their service doesn’t do the Lord any good. So, if it isn’t good to the Lord, what kind of service is it? In this case, unprofitable = good for nothing.

So, Moroni becomes easier to understand. Good should be done for the following reasons:

  1. To Glorify God – not ourselves. Service rendered to glorify ourselves isn’t good. Even if it feeds, saves, and helps others, God doesn’t recognize it as good. It has an evil motive.
  2. Profitable service brings others to Christ. – Really, what does feeding someone matter in the eternal perspective? Sure, they had a meal for a day, but if we’re not good, we can’t point their souls to Christ. So often, Christ tried to teach that he was the living bread or living water. We need to render service that will point the souls of others to Christ – so they can be healed eternally; so they will never thirst. It is impossible for someone who is evil to bring another to Christ.

As I think the service that I give to God, I recognize that I’ll never be able to “catch up” with God. I will never be a profitable servant. But, perhaps I can be sure that the service I give to God is deemed profitable. I can be sure that when I serve others, my actions will glorify God and point the souls of those who received service to Christ.

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2 Comments

  1. Kimberly

     /  March 9, 2011

    This is SO important. I think when we give service to glorify God it purifies our service.

    How many times has someone ‘served’ you in a way that didn’t really bless you? I have been ‘served’ that way many times. And we can do damage if we aren’t one with God, because instead of listening to the Spirit to guide us we just do our own thing. This is where thoughtless comments from visiting teachers come from that deeply wound the sister they are supposedly ‘serving’.

    When we serve for ourselves we are hypocrites, and nothing hurts others more then hypocrisy-it is Satan’s GREATEST tool for keeping people away from religion or driving them from it.

    Great post-I think I need to ponder this topic some more, very interesting.

    Reply
    • Thanks. You know, I’m trying to be better at serving. Lately, I’ve been thinking that I ought to give service that is a conduit for the receiver to feel the love that God has for them. So, instead of thanking me for service rendered, they realize that it is a blessing they’ve received from God. This is what charity really is – the expression of Christ’s pure love.

      For example, I had a really great bishop who gave hours and hours of service – to me, specifically, while I was a single mother. He met with me often, gave me several priesthood blessings, offered words of encouragement, and advised me. It is through the selfless service that this Bishop gave that I was able to feel that God loved me. I knew that God was inspiring the Bishop in how to serve me. What I learned from my bishop is that he was the vessel through which God’s love flowed to me. hmmm…not sure if I’m making sense. His service was pure. I felt it. I love Heavenly Father more thanks to my Bishop, and I love my Bishop more thanks to His pure motive. I won’t forget his example.

      And you’re right, sometimes when we “serve” to further our own selfish purposes, we may think we’re doing good, but we could be harming another.

      Reply

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