Written by MayBell Developments – July 10th, 2021
As Christians, we are almost beat over the head with the notion of serving. It is expected that we serve in our home church and that we serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. We constantly hear that we are called to serve, but why are we to serve and how are we to serve well?
Why serve? Does it really matter if we think only of ourselves or if we put others first? The world looks to benefit the Self above all else though we know we are not to “love the world or the things in the world” (1John 2:15). And yet, our sinful nature asks, how will I benefit from serving?
Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
– Luke 6:38
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
– Hebrews 6:10
We will be rewarded justly, as God sees fit. The Bible tells us that the work we do on earth will not be forgotten by God in eternity. We know that our God is good and that He desires good things for us. But is this our true goal in serving? Should our main focus be on what we can gain for ourselves, even in eternity, by serving others?
The very definition of serving, to give the service and respect due to a superior, implies putting others before ourselves. If we are serving with a focus on our own well-being then we are not truly serving. Serving with our whole heart means sacrificing our own needs for the needs of others.
We can look to Jesus as the ultimate example of serving. After washing the feet of his disciples Jesus explains,
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
– John 13: 15-17
In a position of leadership, Jesus humbles himself and sets an example for us to follow. We should not use the positions given to us on earth as a means to hoist ourselves above others but instead, we should use our position to serve others and to lift them above ourselves.
Jesus showed this sacrificial giving to an extreme when he came down from Heaven, from a place of eternal power and authority, humbled himself as man, and gave his life so we would be saved.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
– Mark 10:45
As followers of Jesus Christ, we seek to emulate his actions. Let’s serve others as Jesus served, wholeheartedly and sacrificially putting others before ourselves.
It’s easier said than done to serve as Jesus served. Let’s be honest, the standard he has set for us is unachievable. Chances are very few of us are going to give our lives for others. Even so, we can posture our hearts in the same way as Jesus did and allow our actions to flow from there.
Jesus served others by deeply loving them no matter who they were. We see this as he interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well. She is among the lowest in society and yet he shows her love through acceptance and gentleness. He knows her sinful past, just as he knows our sinful pasts, and yet he loves her still. We are not to pass judgment on those we serve but to greet them with hearts full of acceptance and gentleness.
Jesus served others with joy. He found fulfillment in meeting the needs of others. This was never a “job” for him. Nowhere in the Bible do we read “Jesus grew impatient of answering their questions” or “Jesus tired of healing”. Yes, Jesus is God so he has an abundant supply of energy and patience, but he also found joy in the work he was doing because of who he was working for. Jesus’ ultimate joy was found in pleasing God the Father. As followers of Jesus, we also seek to please God, and as we work to please Him we should find joy in doing those works. When we serve God’s children we bring God great pleasure and can find joy in doing so.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
– John 6:38
Jesus came to do God’s will. God’s will is that His Kingdom would come on earth. That all peoples would be treated and live as God had created in the beginning. Before sin corrupted the earth, we lived in a time of peaceful relationship with God and with each other. As we seek Jesus and dwell in the presence of God, we experience that peaceful relationship once again. Let’s be honest, serving a peaceful person is much more gratifying than serving someone who is disrespectful to us and so we seek to serve everyone as though we were serving Jesus.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
– Colossians 3:23-24
Notice how we’ve been discussing serving others? “Others” does not imply distant objects. Those that we serve are people, human beings created by God and equals to ourselves. No matter what position, race, or gender that person is we are called to “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13) as though we “are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24). At its core a servant’s heart is a relational heart, continually building relationships with those around us.
But how? The Bible does not spoon-feed us all the answers. We are not told that we must work 5 hours a week at a soup kitchen or give 20 items of clothing to someone less fortunate each year. It should be clear to us by now that serving is not about our actions or the deeds that we do. Serving is about our heart and the way we position ourselves in relation to others.
That said we have each been given unique gifts from God that lend themselves to serving others. Through time spent in prayer, reading God’s word, and in self-reflection we can learn more about our gifts and discern God’s will for each of us, specifically, in our communities.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
– 1Peter 4:10
I hope you have not come to this post expecting to find a detailed list of how to serve. May you leave inspired to serve others as though serving the Lord. I pray you will dwell in the presence of God, drawing near to Him as you read His Word and pray. May God’s grace overflow you and pour onto others in deep and loving servitude.
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
– 1Peter 4:11
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