You have probably seen them. They are “Those That Serve”. They are always there to help, the first to sign up, the first to raise their hand when a need arises, ready and willing to give selflessly. But why? What makes “them” do that? Is it personality? Desire to be liked? A helpful gene that some people have and others are missing? Does the “why” really matter? Should we always look at service Biblically? So many questions about Christian service.... are there answers?
Biblical reasons we serve:
Long before I came to Christ I had a personality that wanted to help. I am not boasting, I'm simply stating a fact. I wanted to be a veterinarian so I could help animals. I volunteered in programs for students with special needs in my middle school and high school. If a friend was sick I brought over soup. These weren't actions of the saved adult I am today, these were the actions of a nice kind girl who loved people yet didn't know God. This was my personality shining through, not my serventhood or sacrifices to the Lord.
It makes sense that when I was saved at the age of 19 “Christian service” would come easily to me, and in most ways it did. It wasn't the act that I struggled with, it was the understanding of what it meant to serve Christ and why it is that I should do it in His name. It was the changing of the guards so to speak. I had to die to self. If I continued to help out in the way I always did, I wasn't serving Christ, I was serving myself. I was serving my personality. Scripture is what helped me change my understanding of service, true honest service to Christ.
(Romans 12:1) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.
(Galatians 5:13)You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
There have been times while I am serving God that He has called me to do things that don't fit in my schedule. He has urged me to give of my time while I am still tired. He has raised my hand for me when I am not sure where my ability for that task will come from. He has asked me to trust Him that He will provide those needs that I can not fill for myself. I am to offer my body as a sacrifice to God. This IS an act of worship. This is not about the service I will provide, this is about God himself and my relationship with Him. This is how I love Him. This is how He draws me close to Him. I can do this because He has shown me mercy, because He has already given the biggest sacrifice of all... His son. This is not about the meal I brought to someone who had surgery, this is about my worship of the one who made me. This is not about reaching out to someone in my community, this is about using my God given freedom to choose to follow the word of God and not my sinful nature. This is not about the car ride I gave my neighbor, this is my act of worship to the one who died on the cross for me. Because I choose to worship Jesus in this way, He uses what I do for the good of others. I am blessed to see good things come from this form of worship of God, but I do not serve to do good deeds. I serve to worship the one who made me, and He does good.
Because of this, service will never be about me.
How we are to serve Him:
(1 Samuel 12:24) But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.
(Romans 7:6) But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Have you ever done something half way? I have, it isn't pretty. Have you ever met the perfectionist that isn't pleased with anything, ever? I have, it isn't pleasant. That's what comes to my mind when I read these two scriptures. When we serve the Lord faithfully with all of our heart, we are not doing it half way. We are remembering the fulfillment of HIS promise, the gift of a Messiah, His own son. That should be in the forefront of our minds while we serve so we are not tempted to give in to the desire to serve halfheartedly (which my flesh often wants to do). At the same time, we are released from the old law that demanded perfection. When you read The Old Testament there are times when people in the Bible will rattle off the rules given by The Lord and then make this type of statement: “But you will not be able to uphold this.” (As one example, read Joshua 24, which is about God's covenant with the Israelites, and take note of Joshua's words in verse 19 “Joshua said to the people, 'You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins'.”) Do you know what this means? Even as these laws (or in that case the covenant) were handed down there was an understanding that they were impossible to follow. We needed Jesus and the freedom He would bring. We HAD to be released from “the law” because we could never follow it no matter how much we desired to. We do not have to be perfectionist anymore thanks to Jesus Christ. We are living in a time where God allows us to serve in the way of the Spirit. Embrace that, Brothers and Sisters. Serve. Serve in the freedom of Christ. Do not do it halfheartedly, and do not be a perfectionist. He has freed you from both.
Specific instructions from Christ:
(John 12:26) Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
Christ himself gives specific instructions about serving Him. If you are serving Christ you have to be following Him. My thoughts on this: to follow Him, you must know Him. To know Him, you must know about Him. To know about Him, you must be in The Word. When you are in The Word, you learn about serving God. It is a cycle, and a blessed one.
When I look back at the moments in my life where it is undeniable that God was with me, I can name the names of the people here on Earth that He used to carry His message, to save me from evil, to help me in the day to day struggles of simple survival. I have no doubt that where He was, His servants were also, because I can name those people. I can see their faces in my minds eye. I married one of them, I call one of them my best friend, one of them is my amazing pastor and his equally amazing wife who I am blessed to call friends, another is a woman who has become as close as a sister and my favorite person to cook with. Then there are some who were only there for a day or a moment when I needed them most, and I never saw them again. When I went looking for God, I found one of His servants, because where He was, His servant was also. It is simple in it's complexity.
It took me (approximately) two hours to write this. It took you (approximately) 10 minutes to read this. But it took me (approximately) 34 years to live this. Don't read this and think this is easy. I didn't write this to tie it up in a pretty bow. Servanthood is from God. He will use it to stretch you, shape you, open your eyes, teach you, and make you a new being in Christ. I say this from experience. Servanthood can hurt and heal at the same time. It is one of the many mysteries that is our God. Stay in prayer while you serve. Keep your eyes on God. Read the scriptures to make sure that you are serving in His name, and not that of anyone else. I leave you with the words of Romans 12:1: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.