Last week we began our series on service within the local congregation. We established a few over-arching reasons why we should be serving… the most important being that Jesus served while He was here on earth.
Our world defines success or “greatness” in terms of tangible things like possessions, position, and power. In other words… if you have power over others, you’ve arrived. The art of service has been lost and has been mistakenly attributed to weakness, insecurity, inability, or poverty. In our me-first culture, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.
Jesus, however, measured a man’s greatness in terms of service, not status. In Mark 10:43 He says,
Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.
Unlike the world we live in, God determines our greatness by how many people we serve, not how many people serve us. Oswald Chambers, one of my favorite theologians, once said this,
Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him? I’m not referring to works which could be regarded as divine and miraculous, but ordinary, simple human things – things which would be evidence to God that you are totally surrendered to Him.
The following list will provide some practical reasons for serving. In no particular exhaustive order, here are some reasons why we should be involving ourselves in ministry:
- Glorifying God by serving in my local church ministry is the purpose of my salvation.
Ephesians 2:10 says,
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are quick to emphasize that salvation is not by works…. as we should be! In fact we can clarify that by backing up a couple verses to Ephesians 2:8-9 where it says,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But sometimes in our emphasis of that fact we fail to communicate and fully grasp that we have been saved so that we may do good works! We haven’t been saved by our works… we have been saved so that we can work! We haven’t been saved so that we may sit on our hands and be served.
We as believers are quick to be “watchdogs” and hesitant to be servants.
Since I have been young I have liked pirates and nautical things. Back in the day of pirates, and on most ships today, there is a dedicated officer position to be on “watch” or look out over the sea to discover and report potential problems to the Captain. But… the sole role of this person isn’t just to “watch” the sea. In fact, if they just watch the sea they are only doing half of their job and it can be perilous for everyone on board. The other part of this officer’s duty is to act upon what they have observed!
In the same way, we as Christians must act.
James 2:14- 26 is sobering when it says,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
We have faith so that we may serve.
God has placed us in our individual local churches in order that we might be edified, and so that we might be able to work for and serve Him. To remain sedentary is to neglect God’s very purpose for our salvation. By serving, we behave like Jesus and glorify Him.
- I have been gifted and called to serve.
Several Bible passages help us to understand the concept of spiritual gifts. Romans 12:4-5 is one of those passages. It says,
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Throughout the Bible we learn about how God has given us each the privilege of a gift. These gifts aren’t meant for collecting dust! A Christmas present might look all pretty and nice when dressed up with wrapping paper… but the true life of that gift begins after it has been unwrapped.
Our gifts are meant to serve God. Peter addresses this in 1 Peter 4:10-11 where it says,
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter makes it clear that we have received our gifts from God for two purposes— to serve others and to bring praise to God. Serving isn’t about us receiving attention or glory; it is for directing all glory to Him.
Don’t allow your life as a Believer to remain in the “wrapped” stage. Like a child opens presents on Christmas, we too are to utilize, or unwrap, our gifts because of the coming of Christ Jesus.
- Ministry service will demonstrate the reality of my faith.
Above, we saw in James that our faith isn’t just demonstrated by what we know or say… but rather it is demonstrated by what we do and how we act.
Romans 12:1-2 says,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Our faith should transform us and make us stick out! But… we know that a faith without works is dead (as we found in James), so I would say that our works should also make us stick out as a believer. People should know what we believe by what we do.
We have all seen someone who can talk the talk, but fails to walk the walk. The other day I was at an outdoor basketball court and a guy showed up wearing all the gear. You can probably imagine what he looked like before I even have to describe him to you. His socks matched his short and jersey combo. He had on the sweatbands and the newest NBA All-Star high-tops, but the one thing he didn’t have was the game to back up the look. I actually got embarrassed for him at one point. But… how similar is our faith to that guy’s game? Do we say all the right things? Look the right way? Go to the right places? The point I am trying to make is that we might fool some people from a distance, but once we are forced to step out on the court our actions, or lack thereof, will reveal us for what we really are.
Fake Christianity or dead faith may temporarily move people, but upon close inspection will do nothing to impact their behavior or their life.
The transforming power of Jesus Christ is on display in the lives of those who have traded selfishness for selflessness. Who have sought the towel instead of the position. Our actions and service will validate our faith in front of others.
To avoid writing a novel this week we will leave the conversation there and pick it up in next week’s blog. Let me encourage you to evaluate the level at which you are involved in serving the Lord at your local church.
Rick Warren says,
Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.