You Gotta Serve Somebody

I don’t usually collect spiritual truth from rock music stars, but Bob Dylan got it right when he sang, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” 

Part of the 1979 album by the same name, the hit song explores that, whether we realize it or not, everyone serves something. Dylan’s song resonated with his listeners, climbing to #24 on the Billboard Magazine Hot 100 singles chart and earning him the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male, but the concept didn’t originate with Dylan. 

Second Kings 17:33 explores a similar theme. Describing the Israelites’ faith, it says, “They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods. . .” 

King Saul was a prime example of this type of double-mindedness. Consider his leadership during the battle with the Amalekites in First Samuel 15. Because the Amalekites were a particularly wicked nation with a long history of troubling God’s people, God called Saul and the Israelite army to annihilate them. And Saul obeyed – sorta. 

He commanded the army to destroy everyone and everything that breathed . . . except . . . the Amalekite king and the best sheep and cattle. I can kinda understand wanting to preserve a few juicy cheeseburgers or rib eye steaks, but I have no idea why he’d want to spare King Agag’s life. In blatant disregard of God’s clear instructions, he kept him alive. When the prophet Samuel questioned him, he lied and blamed it on the soldiers 

Saul served God when it benefited him, but when other, more attractive options came along, he served himself instead. His divided loyalty cost him the kingship. 

Sadly, many of us suffer from the same kind of double-mindedness. We attend church faithfully when we’re experiencing a trial, but skip church when life’s going well. Or we attend nominally because we’re afraid something bad might happen if we don’t. We fear God, but serve ourselves. 
We give to God’s work, but only after all our wants and pleasures are satisfied. We always give something, because we fear God might reverse our fortunes, but sacrificial giving seldom enters our minds. We fear God, but serve our pleasures.

We wear the garb of faith around our Christian brothers and sisters, but put on the cloak of invisibility around everyone else. A little faith is OK, as long as it doesn’t offend anyone, but we never say or do anything to make someone think we’re a fanatic. We fear God, but serve popular opinion. 

Paul David Tripp, in his book, New Morning Mercies, describes it this way: “Whatever commands the love of your heart also shapes the direction of your life . . . Whatever controls the worship of your heart controls your choices, words, emotions, and actions . . . A desire for even a good thing becomes a bad thing when that desire becomes a ruling thing.” 

“No one can serve two masters,” Jesus said in Matthew 6:24. “Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” 

In God’s kingdom, there should be no half-hearted disciples“Be hot or be cold,” Revelation 3:16 challenges us. Be all in or all out. Joshua 24:15 makes it clear: “If serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”

And as Bob Dylan says, you “gotta serve somebody.” Who’s it going to be?

Now it’s your turn. As you’ve read today’s devotion, perhaps the Lord has brought to mind an area where you’ve been double-minded or half-hearted. I encourage you to surrender totally to God’s leading. Do whatever you have to do to be all in. Say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

May God richly bless you as you step out in faith. 

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