Serving: the best kind is so inconvenient
We all know our Savior came to serve and to give his life as a ransom. In actual fact, we have all been called to serve one another. But the irony is this: the best kind of service is so inconvenient. It comes at the times we are most busy, have deadlines to meet or commitments we’ve already made to others.
Let’s ponder this for a minute. Are we giving up the best opportunities to serve because those times are not convenient? Are you even aware this could be going on? Jesus came to serve and has called us all to serve one another.
Mark 10:42-45 “But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Pretty clear, isn’t it?
** Paul told the Corinthians he was their servant (1 Cor 9:19)
** We in turn, especially if we’re able to, or are “stronger” -- are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2; Romans 15:1-2). Can you point to any specific examples where you are bearing someone’s burden? If not, let’s start looking for those opportunities.
**We are called to even “lay down our lives for one another” – 1 John 3:16-17—and to help someone who really has need of some of the kinds of help we could give them.
1 John 3:16-17 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
So now it’s starting to get inconvenient. And this is the point of this “blog”: do we dismiss times to serve others when it’s not comfortable or convenient?
The worst attitude of all is just to walk away as we mutter “That’s not my problem. We all have problems. Deal with it.”
Click “Continue reading” to discover ways you and I can become more effective in serving others.
Some have even been given a GIFT of serving from the Holy Spirit. We’ve all been called to serve, but some have been given an extra gift at being effective at this (Romans 12:7 – the gift of serving. KJV says “ministry”, but that means serving.)
Let’s give some examples of how great serving can be so inconvenient.
How often have we had opportunities to serve someone in a HUGE way – but they live too far away (2-3 hours away, let’s say) and we had other plans. So what do we do? We say, “You’re in my thoughts and prayers”. That’s great service too, to pray for them. But is that really all we can do? James compares it to saying “be warmed, be filled” – but we end up doing nothing! Don’t just say you’ll pray for them; DO something if you can. Let’s read it:
James 2:15-17 ---“If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
How many of us have been guilty of that? Do we give real action – or just “I hope things get better for you. I’ll pray for you” - - but minus any real action? It’s especially easy to think this way if we feel that person brought on all those problems on themselves by their own stupid decisions or inactions or wrong actions or laziness.
But remember, when we have pity on the poor or help them out, it’s like lending to God! (Proverbs 19:17) And Proverbs says God himself will pay you back.
God is so pleased when we “do good and share” -- and help one another out, “for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).
I thank those of you who have shared so beautifully so we can help 28 orphans in Kenya have uniforms and go to school, to sleep in real bunk beds, have clean clothes and underwear, have clean running water and real latrines, to have land they can call their own, to have food and water and medicines each month, and so much more.
Thank you who have helped with this. You’re lending to God and He will repay you. You’re giving a drink of water to one of the least of these His brethren. God will remember you, believe me!
I thank my webmaster and his wife who post these blogs and sermons and take care of this website – so all of you can share in these things. It’s often inconvenient, I’m sure, when I send material to them and ask them to post it right away -- but they do so anyway. Praise God for great servants who serve thousands of you each month this way.
But back to our daily life and ways to serve – yes, even when it’s inconvenient.
Most of us have schedules, times we have to go to bed, or sleep, or get up and go to work, and then we come home and do our chores. We’re always busy. And of course we have to spend hours on Facebook and social media, right? (I speak in jest.) This afternoon, maybe you came home early and promised your children you’d all do something special. But now you get a phone call from a hurting neighbor who needs someone to please go down and pick up some items they badly need at a store. What do you do?
Maybe your wife has just had a baby. The baby is crying again. It’s 2 a.m., and she’s already been up a couple times and would love you to be the one to get up this time. Just this once, please. You feel her nudge – but you are tired from all the crying and you have to get up at 6 a.m. to get to work. You need your sleep. But your wife really needs your help too. It’s inconvenient, but of course, you get up and get the baby and give her a little break.
Your brother or sister has fallen and broken their hip. He or she is in the hospital right now but will be coming home soon and need help. But you have to work. So maybe we can’t go and live with your brother or sister – but can you spend some time on the phone working out some help for him/her? But don’t just say “I’ll be praying for you” and leave it at that!
Of course I realize we have to balance our lives so that we’re not ignoring our spouse and children either. We are also called to serve them. So balance has to be found. I’m just making the point, the best service is so inconvenient – but we do it anyway.
Think of our Master: he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. What a powerful way he came to serve – and how painful, how inconvenient. This is the epitome of inconvenient serving - - but He did it anyway! How painful, how awkward, how terrible – but it was lovely because in that service he gave himself for us all and we have a Redeemer.
Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love our wives in the same way – being willing to give ourselves for our wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. We are to love – and serve – our wives as if she is our own flesh and blood, because she really is, as Paul explains in Ephesians 5:30-33 - - that in marriage “the two shall become one flesh”. So we are to nourish, cherish, serve, love and protect our wives. Sometimes we expect our wives to serve us. Paul’s emphasis is for us men to serve our wives as Christ does the church.
Who in your family would be considered the greatest and best servant? I’ll “bet” that most would have to say the wives are the best servants. If that’s true, they have a great reward. We men, we husbands, we fathers should also be looking for ways to serve our children and family – beyond just going to work and keeping the car running.
Isaiah 58:7-9 tells us that when we seek God, even in fasting, if that results in us truly serving the needy - - God takes note of it and answers us when we call. In that passage He tells us what the net result should be when we fast. As you read it, ask yourself if you’ve ever done some of the things God mentions here. But notice God also says that when we serve beautifully like this, that HE will answer our prayers more with more healings, more righteousness and we’ll know He’s there when we call to Him!
Isaiah 58:7-9 “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of YHVH shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and YHVH will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
Maybe someone in need of your service was praying God would send them someone to help. You are made aware of their situation. Are you an answer to their prayers, or a disappointment? And remember, Isaiah 58 is hinting strongly that we’re not getting as many answered prayers ourselves precisely because we’ve been selfish with our time and opportunities to help others.
That 3 a.m. call and a church member is in Emergency ward. Will you go be with them – or just tell them you’ll pray for them?
This topic can go on forever. I just wanted to share with all of you some thoughts I had when I had opportunities lately to serve – and they were so inconvenient for me at the time. And then my Father spoke to me in my thoughts and said, “Hey, it was inconvenient for my Son too when they started scourging him and nailing him to the tree, but He did it anyway…..for YOU. Now you get going and do likewise.”
So yes – pray for people in need. But better yet, add to your prayers some REAL concrete acts of service. It won’t be convenient for you, but it will be so appreciated. And thank you for your service.
P.S. If you want to keep hearing God’s voice, respond to the times you do hear Him speaking to you.
And by serving in these countless inconvenient ways now, you and I are learning how to be the real servant leaders of the new world coming under Christ, the greatest servant of all. In fact, when he meets with us at the wedding supper, look what we’ll see:
Luke 12:37 – Christ Himself will serve those gathered at the table. Imagine it.
It surely will remind us of John 13:4-5 when he knelt down in front of each of his 12 disciples and did the servant’s job of washing each one’s feet. Let’s practice the lesson of foot washing – serving one another – every day, all the time, especially when it’s inconvenient -- and not make the Foot washing become just a Passover ritual.