The Precious and Pleasant Service to God

Pentecost 17 Sunday

1 Timothy 1:5-7

“The chief sum of the commandment is this: Love from a pure heart and from a good conscience and from sincere faith. Some, having missed these, have turned around to idle blather. They want to be masters of Scripture and do not understand what they say or assert.”

My dear friends, you know how God has commanded everyone firstly to hear and learn his dear Word. For God spared nothing to bring this Word into the world. He put all his prophets to this one task. In fact, it was for this reason that he sent his own Son into the world, had him crucified and die, had all apostles be persecuted, and had all Christians be tortured. And he commanded the apostles to teach this Word faithfully; but his Christians he commanded to hear it diligently. And if there were no other reason to do this besides God’s pleasure and will and strict commandment, it would be reason enough. For we, as his creatures, owe obedience to our Lord and Creator and to do what he commands wholeheartedly, because he has given us, and still daily gives us, so many good things that we can never thank him enough for them. Now, he does not leave it at that. He does not want this to be imposed on us merely as a commandment or demanded as a service owed, but promises that we are to have great benefit and use from it. He lets it be proclaimed that this is the service most pleasing to him. For he is a great Lord whom we serve and who has many ways of being served…Yet far above all these services he has praised and adorned this one service, that of those who hear and preach his Word. He has chosen this one thing above all else on earth that it is to be a special service to him; for the other services are done for the people. This is also why he has ordained for this purpose a special day in the week to carry out this service, although, during the rest of the week, we serve God with our other work which he has not tied to a particular time or particular days. Yet this day he has highlighted and solemnly commanded to observe, so that we might have time and leisure to do it, lest someone complain that he is unable to perform this service or to get around to it. Likewise God has ordained a particular place for this service; among us, this place is churches or houses where we gather. In fact, he has instituted and preserved the entire priestly estate for this service; he creates and provides all that pertains to carry out this office, e.g., all sorts of abilities and languages and many gifts. In short, God has given the whole world a special commandment to regard this service as holy and glorious. And indeed, he has gone about this service in such a way that we must realize how highly he esteems it: It is a precious, pleasant service to him where and when people concern themselves with his Word.

St. Louis ed., 9:883-885.

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