This is a post by Mary Wiley, who serves as the Preschool & Children’s Minister at Fairview Church in Lebanon, TN. Mary is also a Digital Publicist in B&H Marketing and Communications.
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What’s your immediate reaction when you see someone who is need? Maybe you want to help and drive to the nearest drive through to get him some food or maybe you look the other way, pretending that you didn’t see him at the red light. After all, how are you to know if he is really in need or if he is scamming you out of money?
I recently had to come to terms with the cynicism in my own heart about the needs of others. In my years of living in larger cities where every street corner held a need, I had heard so many stories of those people immediately taking money they were given and using it to buy cigarettes or alcohol rather than provide for their needs. I knew I didn’t want to be an enabler. I also heard stories of single girls being harassed or assaulted by those they tried to help, and I knew I needed to be concerned about my safety when I was alone in my car.
These thoughts that kept me from serving others appall me now. The Lord has laid before me so many opportunities to serve, provided the money that I could use to serve, and opened my eyes to the innumerable needs that are at my doorstep. How can I truly trust God and choose to not trust His provision, safety, and direction when I feel like He is leading me to serve another?
We know that God has sent His people on mission to serve those in their church, community, and world; but what does that really look like in today’s busy, cynical world? Jesus gave us quite an example to follow when it comes to service, and no matter how the world changes, His example calls for imitation.
Jesus served us in a way that I have a hard time imagining what it would have been like in real time. Not only did He travel without a place to call His own just so others might know the grace extended to them through Christ, but He was the ultimate Servant by laying down His life so that we might have His righteousness before God. Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”
We can serve because we were served first. Our greatest need was met in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and His victory over sin and death in the resurrection. Serving is not just something Christians are supposed to do or a duty listed on a checklist. Serving is a response to God’s gift of salvation that The Holy Spirit works to create in believers. We serve in light of how Jesus has served us, and as if we are serving Him, so that He may get the glory from our work.
We see Jesus serve throughout the Gospels, but one of my favorite accounts is when He washes the disciples feet in John 13:1-17. Jesus and the disciples had just come in from a walk to the house where the Feast of the Passover would take place. Their leather sandals were probably caked with dirt and their feet probably smelled. Yet Jesus took on the role that a lowest servant in a household would take. Jesus took off His outer garment, poured water into a basin, and began washing the disciples’ feet one-by-one. This service was not self-seeking, but was to show the disciples how they must go and serve others: with much humility, grace, and lovingkindness.
Service spews from a heart that finds its delight in the Lord. It shows our inward affection for the things of God, and acknowledges the value of people as creations of the Most High God. Service is the substance of our faith.
How do you approach serving? Is there any cynicism occupying your heart that you need to confess and lay down today? Are you an example of service to your children and your community?
I pray that God ignites our love for serving Him through serving others. May our families and churches be consumed fully delighted in the Lord, and may that overflow into the way we love our communities.