“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Service is not exclusively Christian, as many organizations and individuals serve without any or little connection to the Lord. In fact, the word “serving” takes on many shapes and forms in society overall. For instance, politicians call themselves “public servants.” There are many more examples I can cite, such as the armed forces, law enforcement, civil service; and we can thank them all for their service. But here are three distinctly Christian motives to serve:
- When we serve others we imitate Christ. Christian service is the demonstration of who we are in Christ. If we say we’re Christians, but do not serve, then we may not have the kind of relationship with Christ that we think we have. When we serve, we model Christ. In fact, serving was so important to Jesus, that it was one of the last acts he performed with His disciples— that is, the washing of their feet. Afterward, he told them this: “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:12-15).
- When we serve others, we serve the Lord. Serving others is really being Jesus’ hands and feet, in that God will use others to accomplish His work here on earth. He even uses people as direct answers to prayer! Indeed, serving others is being used of God. What an awesome thought, that our service to someone could very well be an answer to that person’s prayer! The apostle Peter said it this way: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
- When we serve others, we fulfill the law. Really? How? As Christians, we know very well that it is by grace alone that we are saved, not by works (Ephesians 2:8), but the sacrificial love and service that comes out of our faith is how we fulfill the law of Christ. This is where good works count. In fact, Scriptures say it like this: “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). That is followed by this extraordinary statement: “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (5:14).
While it’s great to serve in general, as I said earlier, when it’s out of love and devotion to God, we get to express God’s love to others. Faith working through love! That’s the best motive of all!
Here’s a quick litmus test to check yours:
- Am I loving those God loves—even those hard to love?
- Am I allowing myself to be used by God to care for those He cares for?
- Does it burden my heart that there are folks that are deprived or needy?
It’s by no accident that the last part of our mission statement is “Shining His Light in the World.” Look for opportunities— knowing as you do so, you serve the Lord!
-Pastor Joe Garofalo