BY: Richie McClure
Service is a word that can have many different definitions to us today. It can mean someone who brings us our food, someone driving us from place to place, providing the ability to have an online connection; the applications of the word service are plentiful. The service industry is full of stories and experiences of those who are underappreciated, mistreated, overlooked, and walked over. Some of us have perpetuated these situations, some of us have been on the receiving end. Sometimes we have received “bad service”. Service or serving takes on a new meaning when we look at it from a Christian perspective, as it should. I’d like to take a look at what Jesus taught about serving and how we can integrate serving into our lives.
Serving can be an uncomfortable concept for some today because we are taught to look out for ourselves at every opportunity and to only act in ways that will benefit us, either immediately or in the long run. The thought of giving MY time and effort to serve someone else? Are you crazy? I have way to many things to do. I have to work to provide for myself, I have to incorporate some physical activity into my day to make sure I am in shape and feel good, and I just have to watch the new Marvel show tonight. I don’t have enough time. This is what is heard all the time from those presented with opportunities to serve. What the person is actually saying is “I don’t want to give the time.” Breaking this down from a molecular level I believe this stems ultimately from pride. Often times we are taught to only look out for #1 and with that comes only caring about what we have an interest in or what will serve us. We usually spend our time on things that will benefit us. The adage ‘You make time for what is important to you’ holds true.
Changing the way we look at service and serving others can take time. Any positive lasting change does. Jesus’ mission on Earth is explored in Matthew 20:28 “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Now this shows two distinctions for followers of Jesus. One: if our savior, the one who is the bridge for our salvation, came down here to serve us and not to be served himself, why do we have a hard time serving each other? And two: He gave His life for us to be with Him for eternity. The ultimate act of service. In Romans 12:11 Paul tells us “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” I love that the depiction of serving Him in this verse is juxtaposed right next to being fervent in spirit. As in when we are the most fired up for God we should be serving Him. I really like picturing that. Going back into the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 13:4 states “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” That last part could be a basic blueprint for all Christianity ‘serve him and hold fast to him’. 1 John 4:4 says “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” So just to recap: Jesus came to serve, being on fire includes serving, we are commanded to serve and hold fast to Him, and God within us is greater than anyone or anything in this world.
I know that is a lot of jumping around but I just want to introduce the idea of living for someone besides ourselves. When we are living for Jesus and letting Him work through us, we will in turn serve our brothers and sisters. The whole idea being our life is not our own. It is given and a blessing. If you accept that, it becomes easier and easier to serve. I believe all of us can benefit from looking around our lives once in a while and recognizing different areas we can serve, whether it be relationships with family or friends, our stewardship over our environment, our own bodies, etc. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” This verse is speaking in the context of sexual immorality, but taking the principal and applying it to serving is like a puzzle piece that fits in perfectly. We are meant to be reflections of God’s love and we are able to show it through the Holy Spirit, which it even states is given to us only from God. And it is capped off with stating we are not our own. Chef’s kiss.
Now I don’t think there is a blueprint for serving others, it will look different for mostly everyone. There are some general areas that always need people to serve around every community, for example helping the homeless population get food/shelter, but for some it can be difficult to know where to take that first step. I would encourage you to start with your circle, the people you come in contact with the most on a weekly basis. Something I’ve noticed is that people will actually tell you what they need most of the time, whether directly or sub textually. Listen for these hints the next time you talk with them and then be willing to serve them in whatever form that looks like. Let’s make the time. Let’s pour ourselves out for the Lord.