It was the middle of a hot summer afternoon. I was a young mama helping out at my first noisy Vacation Bible School. The church was now quiet, except for the occasional sound of my six year old playing near his napping baby sister.
I was sweeping. Sweeping a big mess. Leaning on the broom I looked at the work still be to be done and felt very very tired. And a wee bit grouchy. After all, was I the only person in the universe who could do this? Why had everyone left such a disaster? Why did I have to clean up? I hadn’t volunteered to be the janitor!
As my scowl deepened the Lord whispered to my spirit and I was ashamed. “Sweep for Me,” I felt in my heart. So I took up that broom again and swept as an offering of love to my God. And as I swept the floor, the Lord swept the ugliness out of my heart and mind and replaced it with joy in serving Him.
Jesus’ example of servant leadership
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
We serve others because Jesus did. Every single thing Jesus did on earth was in service to the Father and in turn to us.
Jesus commanded us to serve
Jesus said “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”
Did you know that the Greek word for love in this verse is in the active tense? Jesus wasn’t talking about feeling warm and fuzzy about your neighbor. Service is love in action.
We were created to serve
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God has prepared good works for each of us. There is a plan! The gifts God has given you He desires to use for the kingdom.
Serving others serves Jesus
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
We are Jesus’ hands and feet here on earth. When we see need and meet it, we are doing His good work, and serving Him.
Service is a necessary fruit of our faith
Serving does not earn our salvation:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God
But serving is a fruit of our new life in Christ. Our love for Him opens our eyes in love to the needs around us. Serving gives life to our faith:
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
True service does not seek selfish rewards
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
It is a fact that serving the Lord brings much joy. But we really do have to ask ourselves – am I serving to gain reward from God or from humans?
Be mindful of your motivation to serve in a given situation. Is it really to glorify God, or is it to glorify yourself? I am throwing no stones in asking this question. On more than one occasion God has shown me that my heart was not right in my reasons for choosing certain areas of serving.
Service is a spiritual discipline
Service is a spiritual discipline because we are all selfish. Humans aren’t born thinking of others before themselves. But as we grow in faith and practice service, more and more it becomes second-nature and a way of life. Our desire to serve grows as we become more molded to Christ’s image.
Have you found service to be an area in which the Lord has grown you? How do you discern if your motivation to serve is godly or selfish? Join the conversation in the comments.