This month, on Wednesday evenings, the children are learning about Service. What is service, and how and why do we enact it in our lives? We are first given the definition of service: lending a hand to help someone else. And we learn from the many examples in the Bible that Jesus shows us how to serve.
1.We serve because of what Jesus did for us.
2.We serve because we are instructed by his example to look for ways to serve others.
3.We serve with what God has given us – our skills and his strength.
4.We serve without looking for applause or recognition.
Indeed, Jesus feeds the (way more than) 5,000, he washes his disciples’ feet, he instructs the disciples to meet others’ needs, and to give in secret instead of falling into the trap of seeking praise.
These things can sometimes be hard to embrace and practice – because our culture has told us to “look out for #1” and “they who die with the most toys wins.” But these things are not what Jesus says and models about true service. How can we address those kinds of attitudes and actions that keep us from understanding what service really means?
Often, when someone does something good for us, we want to think it’s because we deserve it. Instead, remember Christ’s sacrifice for us, and the fact that we are God’s children. We aren’t God’s children for ANY reason of deserving or earning it. It was a FREE GIFT, and it was given because God is good, not because we merited it with anything we’ve ever been, said, or done. When we serve, we need to not focus on whether or not the person “deserves” it.
In a great little passage from Shakespeare's play, Hamlet, the Prince addresses Polonius about some theatrical players who are visiting, and we get this exchange.
Hamlet: Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time; after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
Polonius: My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
Hamlet: God's bodkin, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping?
In this exchange, Polonius doesn’t think much of the actors – they are looked down on as unworthy, dirty, the “rabble” of society. But Hamlet deftly reminds him that NO ONE is truly worthy of good treatment – if we got what we deserve, we’d all be punished!
But the grace of God is such that we have GRACE and MERCY – we are given the good we don’t deserve, and don’t receive the punishment we do. Christ, the servant-king, stands in our places. Since he did this for us without our earning or deserving it, we should do the same for others for the exact same reason. We also need to serve in the exact same ways, and so many more. We need to serve with the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us, and the skills we have been able to learn and develop over our lifetimes. And we need to serve without expecting anything back – just like Jesus.
So think about service this week – who, how, where, and why can you (or are you) serving? Let it be for Christ, by his example, and for his glory. And reach out in service to others.