My husband and I were eating at Chili’s the other day when something caught my eye. The silverware was neatly tucked within a small envelope with the words “Put here to serve” written across the front. I immediately got a lump in my throat as I pondered over the service of Christians. So many loyal and faithful saints pour out their lives for the cause of Christ. So many selflessly sacrifice on the alter of obedience everyday. However, let’s be honest, some do not.
Most of us would probably have a list of places where we serve, how we serve and why we serve. But the how and the where of service is totally irrelevent if the why is not firmly rooted. We say we “Serve”, but honestly, we are just there in physical form. It costs us nothing; we give little of ourselves and we go about our merry way thinking some how that the God of heaven is pleased with service that is void of devotion. Without devotion our service is nothing more than glorified works and has no effect for the Kingdom of God. So let’s begin by answering this question: Why do you serve?
We were created to serve.Yet in the choas of the world around us we are infiltrated with the idea to “look out for number one”, to push aside everyone else’s needs until ours is met. The degree to which we serve can often be an indicator of who/what exactly is number one in our lives. We can air with confident words of dedication about our love for the Lord but the reality of that dedication will be found out by our willingness to serve. True dedication cannot be forged. It has a way of making itself known. The love for Christ that fills our hearts will spill out into the tangiable realm; that’s where service starts.
Service is far more than merely “helping” someone or filling a position at church. Service is the demonstration of an inward reality. True service streams from a heart that is dedicated to Christ not only in word but in reality. Service is thus the expression of our dedication. If our service is lax, then chances are our dedication is as well.
What makes our service shaky and unpredictable is when we let our emotions dictate that devotion. For example: “I just do not feel like going…”, “ So and so hurt my feelings so I’m just not going to play my role anymore…”, “ I wanted to lead that class but since I wasn’t asked, then I wont be a part…”, or “I get too nervous…”. Look at the subject of those declarations: I. Our lack of service can be traced back to our intense devotion, not to God, but to ourselves. Our own comforts, our own plans, our own fragile emotions..etc.
Devotion to self is the leading cause of death to our service. It’s why we scurry about in a mad hustle and end up with no fruit and no fulfillment. It’s why we often run in the other direction when we see seomthing needs done. Self devotion makes excuses, God driven devotion makes servants.
Biblical service has a focal point, and it is not ourselves but Christ. When we have the opportunity to go out and eat at a resturant, the server is there for one reason- to serve. They are attentive to the customer’s needs, wants, and desires. Even though many have worked double shifts, with aching feet and a sore back, they lift the one they serve above themselves.
A server: one who spends themselves for the benefit of others.
As the sun hid away on that dark resurrection day, the account of heaven was emptied out. Spent on behalf of humanity. Every resource was used as God himself, wrapped up in humanity, served earth what was needed; Salvation.
We are given the ultimate picture in the cross, yet in John chapter 13 Christ brings servitude to a practical level for us. As the hands that formed the cosmos washed the filth from his disciples’ feet, we see it…what real servanthood looks like. Bowing down to wash his inferriors earth trodden feet he expels the idea of self devotion. It’s important to realize that foot washing was set aside strcitly for servants, gentile servants at that. To wash the feet of another was degrading and lacked honor, that is until the Prince of Heaven strapped on the servant’s garment. This act is the picture of the devotion that drives servanthood. A devotion that is full of love and honor for another, that spends itself for each other.
“If then your Lord and Teacher has washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14
We serve because we’ve been served. The fact that Christ has washed our mangled feet with his love and grace motivates us to do the same for each other.
Humility-that’s our “how “of service. Devotion is the engine that drives it; humility is what keeps us on track.
“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12
I looked up the Greek defintion for humble and one of them was “to make a mountain level.” You see too often we are mountains in our own estimation. Humility ,on the other hand, is when we are “leveled out”. Brought to where we can actually be of some use. If not then we will be as a mountain in the path of the cross, blocking others from experiencing Christ. We use the word stumbling block a lot in Christian circles, knowing that our actions can make others stumble…it’s more serious than what we may think. In Romans 14:13 when mentioning this exact phrase, Paul uses the Greek word “skandalon” which is where our English word “scandal” is derived from. Pride has mountain size consequences….it’s even scandalous to those around us.
After Christ had meticulously went through the line of disciples, wiping each one down with his mercy he asked a heart stopping question “Do you understand what I have done to you?”
Imagine those piercing eyes penetrating deep into the ressess of your soul as he asks YOU this question…what would your answer be?
My conviction is for the majortiy of us….we don’t. Not truly. We know he has in our minds but the gravity of what he has done escapes us somehow. It has yet to make it to our hearts. Why would I say that? Our service tells on us, that’s why. If we understood what he has done, service would be a natural outflow from our hearts.
The transforming experience of Christ’s service to us fuels our devotion, or it should, because…we were put here to serve.