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Description: Service to the Lord
Service to the Lord
Sermon Transcript by Ernest O’Neill
[Very beginning was not recorded] Ephesians 6:7 runs, “Rendering service with a good will as to the
Lord and not to men.” The verse that I’d like you to glance at, is on page 888 in the hymnal. Of
course, it’s our friend who did so many beautiful engravings. It’s in connection with this verse,
“Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men.”
“And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England’s mountain green?” It’s old Blake, in one of
those visions. He’s seeing beyond – many people say, “beyond the Bible”. He said, “And did those
feet in ancient time” – well whose feet? Well, Jesus’ feet of course. “And did THOSE feet, in
ancient times walk upon England’s mountain green?” Of course, any down-to-earth Englishman or
Irishman or American would say, “No! They didn’t! They didn’t!” — but not old Blake. Blake
sees, “Of course they did! Of course Jesus’ feet touched earth long before man ever saw earth.
“And did those feet in ancient time” — because he knows Christ is pre-existent and is outside time
in that sense. “And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England’s mountain green?” – so did
Jesus know England before the English? Yes, of course he did! “And was the holy Lamb of God on
England’s pleasant pastures seen?” Of course he imagines, I suppose, a nothingness with nobody
there – but there is the holy Lamb of God walking across the Lake District.
“And did the countenance divine shine forth upon our clouded hill?” Of course! Did God smile upon
the mountains before ever man saw them? “And was Jerusalem builded here among these dark satanic
mills?” He sees, of course, Jerusalem as eternal in the heavenlies, Jerusalem existing long before
the earth, Jerusalem in God’s mind before anything was created. God sees it all done. It’s England
renewed and made new. It’s the new earth and the new heaven. Old Blake sees all of this.
“Bring me my bow of burning gold” – and then he loses himself in just poetry. “Bring me my arrows
of desire.” He’s really talking of Christ saying, “Bring me my spear; Oh clouds, unfold. Bring me
my chariots of fire” — on which I will ride to Elijah and gives him a vision of the angels and the
chariots around him.
“I will not cease from mental fight” There I suppose he is expressing his own desire not to give up
the ability to see these things. Everybody thinks he’s crazy seeing, “I will not cease from mental
fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand” as he chips away at the old engraving – “until we have
built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.”
Why I quote it is to bring home to us the pre-existence of Christ, and to dig us out of our time
capsule here where we are so imprisoned, and to see things as Einstein gave us a glimpse of them
through his understanding of infinity and eternity of space, to see that all of this has already
taken place in a millisecond. God has seen it all.
When you walk into that little shop or you speak to that person on the phone in the office, you are
“rendering service with a good will” as to whom? The Lord — the Lord.
All of us were made in him and through him; and without him was not anything made that was made. We
are all his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.[Epesians 2:10] We are here because he lives.
Because he lives we live also. Even though this seems like Peggy, or little Ernest O’Neill – or
even though this seems like little Marty, this is a piece of HIM who gives it life. All these
little bits and pieces of humanity exist because of the life of the One in whom they live and have
their being, because in him we live and have our being. [Acts 17:28]
In a funny way, it is Christ ministering to Christ – or rather Christ ministering to his Father in
whom he, himself was born. In a deep way, when you render things, not just to each other, but when
you render things to the customer on the phone or the customer in the store, whether you like it or
not, you are not rendering it unto men, you are rendering unto a being who exists in Christ, who is
part of Christ. You are rendering it unto Christ, like it or not. He made it very clear, “For as
much as you do it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you do it unto me.” [Matthew 25:45]
That’s why this verse is just stating a fact. It’s stating some poetic, visionary encouragement or
exhortation: “Oh, oh, pretend! Pretend you are serving the Son of God.” Pretend nothing. You are
either serving him or insulting him. I speak to myself, not because I’ve won through, but because I
realize that when I speak impatiently, irritably or in a superior manner to another being, I am
doing that to the One who is meek and lowly of heart. It goes right through. There isn’t a thing
that the other person feels that our Father does not feel himself.
So of course, it lifts the whole thing completely. You can see it. It lifts it completely. It
lifts it out of the petty, unimportant little event that is taking place with you on the phone, or
with you in the store, or with me here, or with you in Hong Kong. It lifts it out of that level.
We are rendering what we render. We render it unto Christ every time we render it to a human being.
It doesn’t take you to be very bright to see, “Ah, could this be why life gets a bit boring at
times? Could this be why at times you think, ‘My life means little or nothing?’ Could this be why
I myself get bored with the things I have to do? Could this be why at times I am discontented with
my life and think it could be more exciting? Could this be …?” Of course, of course – obviously it
could be why. Obviously, we are undervaluing everything. Obviously, we are misinterpreting
everything. Obviously, we’re underrating every action we take because we don’t see it as this at
all. We don’t see it for what it is. We don’t feel that we have just finished tossing off a word
to the Lord of the universe. We don’t see it as that.
We actually live a lie until our life is a mirage that bears no relationship to reality at all. We
know the way we all read this verse, “Oh yeah, ‘rendering service as unto the Lord’ — oh yeah, yeah
– you pretend it’s unto the Lord. It’s really to man. It’s really this wretch that’s insulting my
jewelry and all the people that make my jewelry. It’s rendering to this foolish person who hasn’t
the sense to buy the good jewelry. It’s rendering to this uppity person who is trying to make me
squirm. It’s rendering things to him as if he’s the Lord.” “Unless you are entertaining an angel
unawares.” Unless this [person] is the Lord. I think that’s it.
I think if you follow the whole thing right through you end up there. I encourage you to do it. I
think that you end up at this conclusion. That this is actually what is happening. Of course, you
don’t need me to tell you that it obviously makes a difference to people how you’ve treated them. I
mean, you know it yourself. You know the difference when you sense that somebody is actually
respecting you, when you sense that, “Somebody is treating me here as more important than most
people seem to treat me.” You know the effect that that has on you. Of course, it’s the same with
Then undoubtedly, it does naturally effect your restraint. It does effect your restraint. There
are certain things you would say to your father and certain things you wouldn’t say to your father.
There are certain things you’d say to the Queen of England and there are other things you wouldn’t
dream of saying. So of course, it makes a big difference. That’s why his word puts it this way,
“rendering service as unto the Lord not as unto men”.
I don’t know if you’ve had much experience of it. I’ve had some experience of it because I think at
times, God can get through our thick skins or our thick heads. If there is a particularly pitiful
person, he can call forth your compassion in an unusual way. Of course, you know not only the
warmth that is in your own heart when you respond that way, but you know, too, the effect that it
has on them. I mean, it’s actually quite humbling, isn’t it, because they appreciate it so much –
being treated as an actual important human being. Of course it has an immense effect on people.
There are times when God gets through to us that this is someone to grace with your respect and with
Now, move that into reality – move that into the fact that everyone that you deal with is actually
the Lord. And then, see that he could well be as important as the Queen of England! He might even
be important as the Queen of England. Of course, you have a royal situation. A royal in dignity.
I think you are beginning to walk on the “Royal Road of the Saints”. That human situation needs to
be touched with the dignity and the presence of God. God comes upon the scene and the whole stage
lights up. That’s what’s in this verse.
Of course, without any doubt, it transforms the sales situation. It changes it all in your mind –
but the good thing is that it changes it all in THEIR mind: “There seems something special. There
seems something dignified and beautiful. I don’t know why this idiot is so interested in this, or
why he is so gracious, or why she is so nice, but she is, even though I may myself think it’s kind
of silly, yet it’s kind of nice. It certainly makes you feel nice.” Of course it does. Of course
it does for them, but it does for you, too.
I can see that the emphasis is on “render service”. I was thinking of that in a very practical way,
“How can you render service? That’s why I asked you about profiling because profiling is a “no no”
these days. But, you probably do already profile. It would be a wise thing to profile a store.
You probably do it already. I’m not telling you anything, but I certainly would have [appropriate
jewelry images] on my iPad, “This is a store where there are young people. So, I would have ten or
twelve images sitting there. Or, this is obviously a men’s store and I’d have a set of twelve
images and flip them up on the iPad.”
I’d try to render service to them, not just talking generally to them about the beautiful jewelry,
but rendering service by showing them an image with a price on it that is very suited for their
clientele. I don’t know what you’d all do, but I would have ten or twelve iPad screens with ten or
twelve images on each that would be profiled for different stores so that when I came to a store I’d
have a fair idea of which profile I was going to show them – if I could get them to glance for a
moment. But I thought too, it’s practical, it’s not just visionary. It’s not just treating the
person for what they are, Christ himself – not only treating them like Christ, but in fact,
rendering a suitable service for them.
Jesus always healed the withered hand. He didn’t heal the leg that wasn’t troubled. He healed the
thing that needed servicing. Our service should be practical and it should not be just a general
presentation of our beautiful jewelry and how we think it would work. Show actual images, “Oh,
would you just glance at this screen? I wonder if your customers would like this one or that one?
Or, would you flip over the page and see which ones they would like.”
It seems to me it should be something very practical: “rendering service” that is relevant to their
store and to their situation. That’s obviously the very practical side of it. There’s the
visionary side and then there’s the practical side, giving something to them that is very useful to
them and will help them.
Of course, I would imagine that you would probably tell them what other stores do, “Ah. I have
another store like yours. Here, look here. It’s very like yours. They do this…” But it seems to
me then it comes down from the visionary stuff that fills the situation with heart and feeling and
with dignity – and it comes down to the very practical down-to-earth methods that you can do to
render them service that will help them to see how other stores like theirs have operated
successfully – or what images or what items of jewelry might actually sell to the people that come
through their doors.
It seems to me it’s the two-fold thing that God has taught. I think that’s part of what it means,
“rendering service” – doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to
the Lord and not to men. It is a good will, wanting the best for them, and wanting the best for
It seems to me, therefore, this whole business of wondering around in the cars or being in the
office and phoning, the question really is, “Do you know what you’re doing?” Do you know what you
are about? Do you know what you’re doing or are you a little kid playing with his blocks? Do you
know the HOLY service that God has given you?