“If every believer served and gave of their time and money like you do, what would the church be like? What would the world be like? How would the lost be affected?”
One of our women’s small group leaders shared these poignant questions with me yesterday as she was describing her desire for her group to serve locally. Yet, she faces frustration because not everyone in the group shares her burden or enthusiasm for serving.
Consider her question for a moment before reading the rest of this blog post: “If every believer served and gave of their time and money like you do, what would the church and the world be like?”
Would anything get done, or would it go undone? Would every role in preschool ministry be filled, every student at Oliver Elementary have a mentor, every widow have what she needs, every WorkFaith Birmingham graduate have an encourager, etc.?
No One is Exempt
Acts of service is not my love language or my spiritual gift, but I’m not exempt from this biblical command (Ps. 100:2; 1 Sam. 12:24; Gal. 6:9-10; Rom. 12:9-13). Plus, I so easily can be consumed with my own life that I do not look outside of myself to see and meet the needs and hurts of others, which is why serving is a spiritual discipline for me. If I wait until I “feel” like serving, I may never end up doing it!
Attitude & Motivations for Serving
In light of Dennis Blythe’s convicting sermon on serving this past Sunday, our small group discussed this particular spiritual discipline when we met this week, and we looked at the fact that how we serve God and others is just as important as what we do.
Why do motivations matter? Because God cares about our heart. Because we can sin in our heart even if our actions themselves are not sinful. Because God calls us to love Him with all of our mind, strength, soul, and heart.
Wrong motivations include everything from “self-righteous service” (doing something because of how others will look/think of me as a result) to duty (because I’m supposed to do it as a Christian) to what I can get out of it (I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine) to comparison and competition (everyone else is doing it or trying to be “super Christian”) to perfectionism to feeling the need to earn what God has already given (trying to achieve rather than receive His approval, forgiveness, etc.).
As 1 Corinthians 13:3 clearly asserts, our actions matter little if we do them without love. But how do we cultivate a heart that serves with gladness (Ps. 100:2) and humility (Gal. 5:13) if we do not necessarily feel like doing it?
1 Samuel 12:24 states, “Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”
When my brother and I were younger and expressed our unwillingness to participate in one of our mom’s many serving projects, she would often remind us of what Jesus had done for us on the cross and ask us if we considered that reason enough to obey Him and her. This is along the lines of what Samuel says to God’s people. Remember what God has done. The cross and our salvation. How He has blessed you. How everything that you have - from the air you breathe to the talents and skills you possess - all come from Him.
How can I rehearse such things and still be unwilling to do for Him? As A.W. Tozer states, “No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist.” Worship of God can’t help but overflow into obedience and service. If you have a service problem, odds are you have a worship problem.
Before his death, Joshua addressed the people of Israel and challenged them to consider how they would live now that they possessed the Promised Land:
“Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:14-15)
What does your service or lack of service indicate about who or what you are worshipping? Is there anything you need to put away in order to serve the Lord? Who will you worship and serve?
In thinking about serving, who is someone in your life that you can serve this week? How can you serve them? What will you do for them? When will you do it?
If you want to check out ways that you can serve within the church, click here. For opportunities on how you can serve in our community or in the inner city, click here.