Yesterday we learned that service to others is expected of anyone calling themselves a Christian. We also discussed a few suggestions on how we can serve the people in our church body. But we are called to serve and love our neighbors, not just the church body.
Remember, ‘neighbors’ is referring to anyone we come into contact with. In the parable of the good Samaritan, which was given by Jesus to define ‘neighbor’, the Samaritan did not know the man he helped. He did not know him, did not know someone who knew him, and was not related in any way to him. Even more, the Samaritans and the Jews were known for hating each other! Therefore, we are to serve anyone we come into contact with.
This can be acted out in a myriad of ways. We don’t have the time or space to list them all here, but I will discuss a few ways I have found and you can use them as a sort of starting point for yourself.
- We need to serve our families. Sometimes the hardest people to serve are the ones we live with! Be it our brothers and sisters or our husbands and children, serving our family is not always easy. There always seems to be a fight over who gets to sit where, who gets to pick what channel to watch, whose turn it is to sit up front, who has to do the dishes, the list goes on and on! If we are actively trying to serve others, then we will be the ones to volunteer to do the dishes and we will be the one who says, “That’s okay, brother, you can have the remote.” When your sister comes home tired after a hard day at work, the serving sister will volunteer to clean the bathroom for her. When your husband isn’t feeling well, the serving wife will go out of her way to make him comfortable. Keep in mind, though, that we are serving others. It is easy to get caught up in serving someone the way we would want to be served and not the way that person wants to be served. Remember that the purpose of serving others is to benefit the person who is receiving your service and serve accordingly.
- We need to serve at our workplace. For those of us who work, this one is a hard one. This one is usually a little bit harder. This means that we are willing to do the jobs no one else wants to do. This means that we are kind even when we want to punch someone. This means that when everyone else is gossiping about the new person, we serve her by not participating, and even asking others to stop. This means being cheerful and helpful even when you are having a bad day. This means not backstabbing others to ‘climb the ladder.’ Serving others in our workplace is not always easy, but it is a great way to witness to our co-workers.
- We need to serve our friends. The key to serving anyone is by remembering that we are to treat others as we would want to be treated. Help your friends to submit to their husbands and fathers, don’t discourage or tease those who desire to be obedient. Always be looking for ways to be helpful, cheerful, and pleasant.
Finally, I would like to mention the six motivators that Donald Whitney gave in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Spiritual Life. These are really helpful to keep in mind when we don’t feel like serving those around us!
- We should be motivated by obedience. God has commanded us to serve others and therefore we should serve others out of a desire to be obedient.
- We should be motivated by gratitude. When its hard to love others more than ourselves, consider the work that Jesus did on the cross for us. This is always an excellent way to be humbled and in a better position to serve.
- We should be motivated by gladness. We are not called simply to serve, but to serve with a joyful heart. Does your salvation and knowledge of the Lord give you joy? Use that joy to motivate you as you serve.
- We should be motivated by forgiveness rather than guilt. Don’t serve others in an attempt to make up for some past sin. Rather, serve others because your sins have been forgiven.
- We should be motivated by humility. This is probably my most-used motivator. Every time I am in a situation where I know I need to be serving someone but it is the last thing I want to do, I try to remind myself of who I was before Jesus saved me and who I am now because of that salvation. The humility that comes with that reminder is an excellent way to serve with joy. So often the biggest road block to service is our pride and if we can remember to fight that by teaching ourselves humility daily, service will become easier and easier.
- Finally, we should be motivated by love. As Christians, we have a love for Jesus and we are commanded to love others. Service is the means by which we show our love.
If you are a Christian then you are commanded to serve with gladness. We should actively be looking for ways that we can serve the people around us in an effort to obey God and show the love of Christ.