By Love, Serve One Another”
We would probably all agree that we like to be served. That is one reason we like going to restaurants—there we do not have to wait on others or even ourselves, but someone else will serve us. And when we go, we prefer careful and attentive service. We like waiters who do not just give a minimal effort, but who do their best to make sure we get everything we want.
The idea of being a servant is not popular among many in today’s society. Most people prefer being served above serving. Yet Jesus modeled just the opposite: He was a servant of all. When He came to earth, He challenged the norms of the society He lived in, and His example is still radical in our day. He knew the tendency of mankind was toward self-interest, and He gave us an example in stark contrast by modeling and teaching servanthood. He willingly laid aside His own rights—all the splendor and the wonders of Heaven—and took on the form of a servant. That is what He calls us to do as well.
The definition of servanthood is “a person who performs duties for others; a devoted and helpful supporter or follower.” Yet to understand the Biblical meaning of the word, we must look at the life of Jesus. He set the standard of servanthood, for of Him God said, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth” (Isaiah 42:1). Jesus, our Lord, was a servant of God! His entire life was centered on serving others from a heart of love, thereby fulfilling the purposes of God.
We get a good view into the servant heart of Christ in Mark 10:35-45. In that account, James and John asked to sit on Jesus’ right and left hand in His glory. Jesus responded, “Whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Jesus told them plainly that His kingdom would be nothing like the ways of the world. The attitude of the world is to lord over others and to act like their master. In Christ’s kingdom, we know there is only one Master who is in Heaven, and that makes all of us His servants! Jesus’ kingdom is about serving, and even the Son of Man himself came to serve.
Good works will never get us into Heaven, but they are a product of real salvation. They are what we were created to do.
The world will notice when we have an attitude that is not interested only in what will benefit ourselves, but in meeting the needs of others. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Good works will never get us into Heaven, but they are a product of real salvation. They are what we were created to do and we need to be sure to fulfill that responsibility. Wherever we go and whomever we come into contact with, let us show God’s love by serving others with the good works we were created for.
We read in 1 Peter 4:10, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” God has given every one of us a gift, and it is our responsibility to minister it to others. The next verse tells us why: “That God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” Whatever talents or abilities we may have, we want to use them for God and to help others as He directs, that He may be glorified. When we truly love and serve God, we don’t even want any credit for ourselves—we want all the praise to go to Him! The closer we get to God, the more natural it is for us to reach out to others with love and to have a servant’s heart. We will have a heart that is like the Son of God, wanting to serve, to give, and to go the extra mile that more people might know of God’s love for them.
The Word of God tells us to “do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” If we are especially good to the household of faith, we are going to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. When somebody is hurting, we will be there to lift them up. Everyone goes through hard times, even the children of God, and for us it is so comforting when a brother or sister comes alongside to strengthen and help us. That person may not even know we are burdened, but God will lay it on their heart to say, “I’m praying for you,” and it is a wonderful encouragement.
Acts 16:14 speaks of Lydia, a woman who had a desire to serve the saints of God. It says that after she was baptized, she “constrained” the brethren to come to her house so she could serve them. Is that our desire? Do we feel compelled to serve the saints? Doing so is a privilege! Some might say, “That’s just not for me. I’m not really outgoing. How could I serve people?” I’ll tell you how—with love. And love to do it! Yes, there are many things we feel we cannot do, but if we have Jesus’ heart we will do our best anyway. When it is done with love and as a servant, it will minister to others and work and we will be blessed as well.
Part of our service is to pray diligently for those in the ministry. God’s Word tells us that they watch for the souls of their congregations, and that is not a light thing. Our ministers want to serve others, but they need saints to uphold them in prayer, too. May God help us feel that weight and to pray earnestly for them. We might not understand every decision our leaders make, but we can take our questions to Jesus with a humble heart while we pray for them.
Galatians 5:13 teaches us, “By love, serve one another.” That instruction is all inclusive; it means we are to serve at church and also at home. If we do not have a servant’s heart in our own homes, serving others is not going to work so well anywhere else, because we are our real selves at home. When we are caring for our families, we want to do it with a servant’s heart. For example, over the years, I’ve let my husband know that it is not a difficult task for me to cook for him. If I’m going to be away, I freeze meals for him to eat while I’m gone, and I love to do that. I know he appreciates it, and it’s my privilege to do it for him.
In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul instructed husbands and wives how to treat each other. He said wives should reverence their husbands. Reverencing your husband is part of serving. To the husbands he said, “Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” That means serving your wife even before you think about your own self. None of us were born perfect and we all have flaws, so it will not always be easy to serve each other. But when it becomes difficult, in love we can choose to serve anyway, as Jesus did.
God’s Word also instructs us to love our children and our children’s children. I was blessed to be raised in a home where my parents served their children. I witnessed how my mom would treat the ministry when they would come to our home, and she treated her children the same—with love. She gave everything she could give. In the days when there wasn’t central heating and the bed would be cold at night, my dad would iron our sheets for us so we could get into a warm bed. That was how my parents were; they each had a servant’s heart for their children and I’ve never forgotten it.
When we lead our children with a servant’s heart, it is easier for them to follow. We teach them Bible stories and that is good, but the Bible stories come to life when they see Jesus in us. They might not fully understand the Gospel, but they can know what love is all about if they have been served in love. When we show them God’s kindness and patience, and speak with words of affection at home every day, it will touch their hearts.
We might think we have nothing to give, but if we have Jesus we do have something—we have love and compassion to share, and if we need resources, God will provide that too.
Everywhere Jesus went, He showed compassion in word, in deed, and in action. He did not only go to the wealthy or the prominent; He also ministered to the outcasts. He loved them and He served them. When we are following Jesus, something in our hearts will constrain us, too. Jesus visited the lonely and the shut in. He stopped for the poor. He fed the hungry. He had time for the children. He had very little in terms of material possessions, but He had a servant’s heart. We might think we have nothing to give, but if we have Jesus we do have something—we have love and compassion to share, and if we need resources, God will provide that too. When we minister to others with a servant’s heart, God will make a way for whatever is required.
Jesus showed the importance of dedication and commitment in servanthood. How deeply was He committed? All the way. How long was He dedicated? All the way! We cannot be dedicated just on Sundays, or only when it is convenient. We need to be committed every day of the week, and do whatever our hands find to do with all of our might. We are not serving God because we have to; it is our choice. We do it because we love Him, and our attitude should reflect that. There is a limit to what we can do, but many times we can lay aside ourselves and choose to be a servant. That is what Jesus did; even when He was so burdened that He sweat as it were great drops of blood, He laid Himself aside and obeyed what God was asking of Him. Whatever God might be asking of us, we can pray, “Lord, I’m unworthy to be a servant of the Most High God, but I want to serve You! Help me to lay myself aside and do what You have called me to do.”
Looking at Jesus’ life, we also see that He demonstrated the necessity of prayer. Sometimes He prayed all the night long. He prayed when the going was good, as well as when things got rougher than any of us will ever experience. At His most difficult time He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, and once more we see the evidence of His servant heart. He could have chosen not to go to Calvary, but He prayed, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). A servant must submit to his master and Jesus was an example of that. He was faithful to the end. At times when it is painful or when we do not understand, through prayer we can find the strength to submit to God and be faithful to Him.
My father set an example of how to go above and beyond for others. On one occasion, he was traveling in central Newfoundland and on his way home he saw a lady and her little child on the side of the road trying to hitchhike. My dad had a heart of compassion so he stopped to pick them up, and he changed his direction in order to take them where they needed to go. When they were getting out of the car, the Spirit of God spoke to his heart and told him to give them five dollars. My dad only had five dollars to get home, and this wasn’t in the days of credit cards or cash machines. He was several hours away from home, but he had a servant’s heart. He gave the lady his money; no doubt she was in need. She looked at him and said, “God bless you.” She was already giving glory to God!
Before he went home, my father also stopped to see the church brethren. When he went in to greet one of the older brothers, that man slipped ten dollars into my dad’s hand. My dad said, “Why are you doing that?” and he said, “I just want you to have it.” Then my dad went to greet the brother’s wife and she slipped him five dollars! By that time my dad’s soul was overflowing. God had blessed him abundantly, and it was because he had a servant’s heart. That’s how God gives—He blesses you over and over, and it makes you want to give Him even more!
Jesus said in Luke 22:27, “I am among you as he that serveth.” Can we say that? Are we known to others as servants? To live the life of a servant, we must humble ourselves before God and invite Him to be Lord of our lives. Servanthood may not be what the world wants, but it is what we want. Our prayer is, “Lord, I want to serve. Let me be Jesus’ hands and feet extended today.” Thank God that He gives His children a servant heart. He wants us to show that to the whole wide world! Let’s determine to live what Jesus modeled as servants of the Most High God.