4 Reasons Serving is Essential for True Believers
My wife and I refinanced our home recently to take advantage of the still incredibly low mortgage rates. We went to the same title company that processed our refinancing last year and our original mortgage two years before that. SO, we were with a financial officer who knows us. Even so, he asked for our driver’s licenses and made copies of them for their records. That was done to establish that we are who we say we are. Our word was not enough; we had to produce acceptable identification.
What is our identification as followers of Jesus? I know of no one who carries a card that identifies them as believers. A business card won’t do it. Giving records from our church won’t do it (although plenty of people think so). Church attendance records won’t do it either. Then, what is there to show we are truly followers of Jesus?
Serving others in Jesus’ name is our ID as Jesus followers. It may not fit in our wallet or purse, but serving others authenticates our claim to be a follower of Jesus. In this blog I want to identify 4 reasons why serving is essential for true believers.
Reason #4: Serving Promotes Spiritual Growth.
It happened again . . . for the umpteenth time . . . 3 days ago. Someone said: “I have found that I grow more in my relationship with God when I am serving others.” Because it is said so often by so many different people, it must be true. Serving promotes spiritual growth. To put it another way, serving others makes us feel closer to God than we normally feel.
Why? Boy, I could launch into a long analysis of why this is so . . . but I will resist because you (most likely) don’t want analysis, just the truth. Here is what I’ve learned: (1) Serving grows us up spiritually because it’s what we were made to do; (2) serving promotes spiritual growth because it places us where we belong—after others; and (3) serving others at its best comes from love for others and if we believe what Jesus said about loving others more than self, well then . . .
Reason #3: Serving Puts Flesh on Good Words.
We Christians are full of good words, and we are not slow to express them . . . and sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes those words point others to God. Once in a while they give voice to God’s wisdom and mercy. More often they are just words without much force or usefulness.
Serving, on the other hand, puts flesh on words, words like “God loves you,” and like “I care about you,” and (to use the phrasing of James in the New Testament) “be warm and well fed” (James 2:16). Here is the thing about words: you cannot always know whether or not they are sincere. Serving, on the other hand, is more convincing. It costs something if only a little time and, therefore, usually makes the ones being served feel loved. Words need flesh to be believed. Serving does that.
Reason #2: Serving Helps People.
You can’t be a follower of Jesus without helping people . . . some way, some time, somehow. Isn’t that what James said: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do”? He was speaking specifically about helping people. Sooner or later, a follower of Jesus will do what he/she can to meet the needs of those who cannot help themselves. As a baker cannot stay out of the kitchen and a nurse cannot ignore the medical needs of those around her, so a follower of Jesus does not look the other way when he encounters a person in need.
At a recent graveside funeral in the middle of the day, when the final prayer was spoken, attenders opened their eyes to see an elderly woman in attendance had passed out and was lying on the ground. It was warm and she hadn’t eaten that day. Immediately, a friend who is a nurse (but, and this is important, has not attended to patients in years but does more administrative medical work now) went to the woman and attended to her. You see, my friend couldn’t help herself. It’s who she is whether or not she still waits on hospital patients. Our identity reveals itself. I think that’s what James was saying and it’s what I am trying to say about serving being essential for true believers.
Reason #1: Serving Was and Is Priority for Jesus.
One incident from his ministry reveals the priority Jesus gave serving others. The disciples eventually became competitive among themselves for the favor or Jesus. One day, James and John asked Jesus to make them his lieutenants when he got around to setting up his kingdom. Jesus must have shaken his head when he responded to their ambitious request. He said: “ . . . whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be great among you must be slave of all” (Mk. 10:43-44).
This is one of the sayings of Jesus that ought to be framed and hung on the wall, so we see it often. It is so much more than a mere answer to a selfish request by those who should have known better. It was a mission statement—for him and for his followers. Serving is not like so many other things we do because we are religious or church folk. It is not optional. It is essential . . . but only if we intend to be true believers.
What Do You Think?
Do you agree or disagree? Take a minute to let me know what you think about what this blog says. Anticipating that some will remind me that we are saved by grace not works, the next blog will address this never-ending theological debate—most definitely not resolve it but address it.