Serve. Serving. Service.
Unfortunately I think those words have become misunderstood in our culture and have even gained a negative connotation. The mindset that I have observed in people and heard through conversation (when discussing coworkers) is, “I will not let them walk all over me.” Sadly, I think this is what many people think of when they think of serving others. I think part of the reason for this is that the first definition under the word serve is, “to act as a servant”. Many would read that and instantly think to themselves, “I will not do that. I will not be anyone’s servant.” I think even believers feel tension with this concept.
So, how do we handle the fact that the Bible tells us that Jesus himself came to earth to be a servant? Mark 10:45 says, ““For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” How do we handle the fact that we are told to serve others? Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Jesus had more liberty than any person has had, yet he chose to use this liberty to serve. He did not exalt himself. He did not take the attitude mentioned in my first paragraph. He humbled himself. He came to the earth in a very lowly way. He washed the feet of his disciples. He died a horrific death, to serve. He served His father. And, he served us.
I find it ironic and sad that the very people that God created, and that Jesus ultimately served through his death, believe that we have the right to say we will not serve others because we view ourselves as more important than servants. How can we exalt ourselves above others when we are sinners and in need of a savior just as they are? Jesus humbled himself, yes, like a servant. He loved us. He served us. He died for us. He gave us all of himself. Now, we are to follow his example. We are to humble ourself. We are to love. We are to serve. We are to do all of this with the goal of pointing others back to Jesus. If we are viewed as “nothing but a servant” then so be it. This life is not about us. It is about showing others the love that we have been shown through Jesus’ ultimate service.
Will this always be fun and easy? No. Was it fun and easy for Jesus to serve? No.
Explaining the heart behind this can be challenging. In a sermon I heard at church a few months ago, I heard good words to explain this. Instead of trying to come up with better words, I will share these with you.
“This kind of life, that has trusted in Christ so much so that we feel compelled to serve others, because He has served us…That life empties you. That life will empty you. It will make you tired. It is not all joy and ease. It is work. There is some suffering that goes with it.
The thing that motivates us is that when we came to Jesus saying, ‘I don’t have any clothes. I don’t have a house. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I can’t deal with my sin on my own. I can’t get into heaven on my own.’ He did not turn us away. We were more desperate than anybody we will meet. He did not just give us some of what He had. He gave us ALL of Himself.
That is the gospel. We were more desperate than anybody we will ever meet and He met us with all of Himself. Since He has so filled us. He asks us to meet others in need with part of ourselves. This should be viewed as an incredible opportunity for us.”
“Through love serve one another.” Practically, what does that look like? I think it takes on many different appearances. It looks like assisting your coworkers in tasks at work, even if it makes your day longer. It looks like sacrificing for your children and pointing them back to Christ. It looks like loving your spouse well and fighting for your marriage, even when you don’t feel like it. It looks like loving foster children who come into your home, even though it makes your life harder. It looks like volunteering your time at church, when really, you just want Sunday to be an “easy” day. These are only a few faces of serving. And when people look at you and ask, “why do you do that” you point them to Jesus and say, “because Jesus loved and served me, I love and serve”.
At Look Up, this is a passion of ours. It has been as long as I have been a part of this family. I remember my first summer as a summer staffer working with a girl who was a true picture of service. I saw her serve others so well, and so selflessly that her face still pops into my mind instantly whenever this topic comes up. She was a picture of Jesus for me. For her, she had a good grasp on this topic. It wasn’t about her. It was about Jesus. He loved her, served her and sacrificed. Therefore, she loved. She served. She sacrificed. She never expected or wanted any credit. She was simply being obedient and pointing others back to Jesus. As believers, this should be our goal.
And in the words of our Executive Director, Greg Boone, here’s a “little Freebie”…This life, though it may be hard and tiring, though it may bring extra work and responsibility, it brings joy. It brings true joy and fulfillment.