Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Gift of Serving Others: Giving up the Excuses & Following Christ's Example

"Service always carries a cost--in time, energy, material possession, reputation, or effort. Yet if we fail to lead in serving others, our whole Christian testimony will be null and void"

Sally Clarkson, The Ministry of Motherhood, 184
"I don't have time."
"We don't have any extra money in the budget."
"I'm just so tired."
"Someone might see me and laugh."
"Maybe when my life is a bit more settled I'll get around to it."
"Let someone else do something for a change."

Do those excuses sound familiar? Have you ever found yourself using one of them instead of reaching out and serving someone in need?

I have. Many times. It's shameful and selfish and something that I continually have to work on, especially if I want to teach my children the gift of service. Yet when life is chaotic, it's much easier to come up with a reason for why you can't lend a hand than to actually do something.

But God has given each of us gifts to use to build and grow His church:

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”

Romans 12:6-8

Serving is the gift that I believe God has given to me, specifically through fixing meals for others. When given the opportunity and adequate time, I find that I enjoy fixing food for a new mom or for someone grieving the loss of a loved one, for a friend who needs encouragement or someone experiencing serious health problems. But there are times, I admit, when I am unwilling to use my gift for His glory because of some or all of the excuses listed above. I also have anxious thoughts about whether the person will like the food I fix or just throw it out. But when I let excuses and silly fears keep me from using my gift to serve others and bring glory to God, then Satan wins and my witness is nullified.

Lately God has been throwing me headfirst into situations of service that I don't really want to do. Friends of mine have been emailing me about friends of theirs who could use a good meal, and I have readily agreed to help out. Often times I haven't known these women or their families, but God has put it on my heart to serve them, clearly dragging this self-conscious introvert right out of her comfort zone again and again.

Just last week I went over to talk to a young mom at church about her upcoming surgery and found myself offering to bring over dinner one night. Now that was God. All Him. If I had even harbored the idea in my little pea brain, then I probably would not have even made my way over to talk to her. Something would've come up to prevent me from saying anything, and then I wouldn't have had the anxiety of fixing her a meal. But God wanted me to step up and offer my services, so I did. The glory is His.

It's easy to pat myself on the back after I've prepared and delivered food to someone in need, especially when the person calls to tell me how good it was. I feel an inner smugness. "Look at me. Look what I did." That's Satan, too, wanting to take God's glory away and convincing me that I did something great, that I'm someone worthy of praise and honor. But Jesus sets me straight time and again.

"'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.'"

Mark 10:42-45

We all want to be seen as someone important, but Jesus clearly tells us that to become someone of high esteem, we must first become a servant.

Jesus was the perfect example of servanthood, relinquishing His power and authority and renouncing His privileges as deity to selflessly serve mankind, ultimately giving His life for our salvation. What a servant! What an example for us!

“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a labor to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.”

Isaiah 53:7

No excuses were on our Savior's lips the day He was beaten and led away to die. No anxious thoughts kept Him from submitting His will and doing what had to be done. No silly fears, not even ridicule and jeering, stopped our Lord from becoming our greatest hope.

What excuses are on my lips today as I consider the cost of fixing a meal for a friend whose child has been ill?

1 comment:

  1. I believe that all of us hve this gift. Not all of us are preachers, prophets or healers. It is important to find out what you are good at and do it for God's glory