The words “serve” and “service” are used extensively in modern-day English. We talk about the service that we receive at a restaurant, bank, or hotel. In tennis, badminton, and volleyball, serving plays a big role in each game. And, we grudgingly pay service charges that are connected with certain activities or purchases.
Christians are much more concerned about another type of service. As we follow and serve Jesus (John 12:26), we are also instructed to serve other followers of the Christ. While we are not in competition with other saints, the child of God that ranks high is one that “shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). In Galatians 5:13 it is written, “For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” So, to “serve one another” is part of the responsibility that members of the church have to each other. While so many of our generation seem to sit around and try to think of ways that others can serve them, God’s people are supposed to be self-starters, taking the initiative to look for the needs of others and be prepared to serve them.
The Model Servant – That would be Jesus, of course. “For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). On the night before His death, as His apostles argued about which of them was the greatest, Jesus told them, “. . . I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27). The Master Teacher was also the Model Servant!
Our Motive in Serving – Our Lord truly had the heart of a servant, serving others unconditionally, sacrificially, with a pure heart, and without regard to a person’s gender, financial standing, or ability to serve Him in return. Since we are told, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), we serve because we want to emulate our Savior. As we noted earlier in Galatians 5:13, when we serve each other, we are to do it “through love.” So, our genuine love for others is also what motivates us to serve.
Accepting the Service of Others – Each one of us should “bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5), doing for ourselves what we can. At the same time, we are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Sometimes we must humble ourselves and allow others to serve us. If our Lord wants His disciples to serve one another, then who am I to refuse to give others a chance to serve me?! We all have a sense of self-pride, but we must not be arrogant and stubborn, thinking that we are too good to have others serve us. It is not degrading or shameful to allow people to do what Jesus desires them to do, which is to serve. Jesus accepted the service of others (Luke 8:1-3); so did the apostle Paul (2 Timothy 1:18-20). Yes, we must learn not only to serve, but to accept service, too.
Ways to Serve – While we certainly have a special responsibility to our own relatives, let us think right now about some ways that we might serve those who are not in our biological family. What are some ways in which we can provide practical, helpful service to our brothers and sisters?
P Provide transportation to worship services.
P Provide transportation to receive medical services or to collect medication.
P Provide transportation for shopping needs.
P Use skills to help others (repair cars, computer usage, language studies, or give financial advice).
P Take care of small children so their parents can be free to go make visits or conduct Bible studies.
P Provide meals for those who have been sick or for some other reason have been unable to cook.
P Clean the home of or provide cleaning services for those who have been sick and unable to clean.
P Provide meals for those who have had a death in the family.
P Visit and spend time with hospital patients.
P Visit and encourage widows and widowers.
P Help (with arms, legs, and back muscles) those that are moving to a new location.
P Help locate a congregation for those studying or traveling in other locations.
P Provide transportation for evangelists or other Christians visiting from other places.
P Be hospitable – invite saints from others places to stay in our home during special church functions.
P Assist others in finding and using web sites that can help them in their spiritual lives.
P Mature sisters teach younger sisters about being wives and mothers God’s way (Titus 2:3-5).
P Provide the daily necessities for those who are simply unable to obtain such on their own.
P Provide assistance for those who are facing temporary financial hardships.
P Experienced teachers help “first-timers” prepare lessons or prepare to teach one-on-one.
Yes, this list could go on and on. My life has been blessed immensely by Christians who have served me and others. They have no desire to be famous or receive financial rewards. They just love to serve. Thank God for such folks. Their example is powerful! May God help us to have the heart of a servant, serving because we really care about others.
— Roger D. Campbell