“Serve the Lord with gladness…” (Psalm 100:2).
I have been in homes where there were servants in abundance. I met servants who prepared the food and managed hospitality in the home. I met servants who cared for household tasks from cutting the grass, to washing the laundry, to managing the repairs of the automobiles of the owner.
In those encounters with servants, it was rare to see a servant overcome with gladness in their work. While some were glad for the income, others were satisfied for lodging and meals. Others, I recall, loved the stability of work but did not like the position of serving. These same servants would be happy doing something else if the pay were better.
Most people in the western world would consider being a servant demeaning. To most, being a servant sounds menial. They find it degrading and unfulfilling. Some would think that serving others diminishes their self-worth.
The psalmist opens the second verse with a phrase that appears to be oxymoronic. He calls those who are commanded to make a joyful noise to now serve. He tells them to serve the Lord with gladness. How can one serve with gladness? It seems to go against the grain.
The follower of Christ is called to serve the Lord. He or she must serve the Lord with a specific disposition or mindset. The psalmist says they are to serve Him with gladness.
What does gladness in a servant look like? Gladness is the joy of a mother when she is with her child. It is the delight of a prisoner upon being freed. Gladness is the feeling associated with singing your favorite song before the Lord in public or private worship.
Proverbs 10:1 helps me learn the meaning of gladness. The writer of Proverbs presents a contrast using the parent-child relationship. The son that is wise makes his father glad; but if a son is foolish, he brings a heaviness to his mother. What a beautiful picture is given here for us! Gladness is the absence of heaviness of the spirit.
I would like you to consider yourself as a servant of the Lord. Ask yourself these questions: What is my spirit or attitude when I serve the Lord at my house? Do I display the maternal joy mentioned above as I serve the Lord by meeting the needs of my children and spouse? Do I have the liberty and delight of a prisoner released from their confines when I serve the Lord in my house? Does the song of my heart find its expression in signing? Do I have such gladness in my service? Have I lost delight in my service to the Lord and others—even among my own family?
I want you to extend your vision beyond your heart and home. This extended look is to see whom you could encourage to serve the Lord with gladness. There could be people in your place of worship that may have lost their gladness in serving. You may be able to help them find their gladness in service.
When your fellowservants of the church come into view, what do you see? How many are there who appear to be serving the Lord with gladness? When the servants of the Lord lose their gladness, they display an image opposite of this proposition in Scripture. We are to serve the Lord with gladness.
When you see those who teach in Sunday School, do you see gladness? When you see ushers and greeters, do you see gladness? When you see choir members and soloists, do you see gladness? When you see the church staff, do you see gladness? If the gladness can evaporate out of your life, you know it can do the same in the lives of others.
Now, I do not want you walking around the church with a gladness meter measuring the levels of gladness in every servant's heart! What I want you to do is if you see a servant without gladness, pray for them. Then serve alongside them and exhibit gladness. You will discover that gladness is contagious.
Dear Reader, are you a glad servant? Does gladness arise first when you are faced with a situation to serve? Does gladness show on the outside? Your lips may send one message, but does the attitude of your heart express the Bible’s message of gladness?
Today, take an opportunity to intentionally serve the Lord with gladness. Find someone in your home, at work, or in church on whom you can practice serving the Lord with gladness.