Why We Serve

Jesus told his disciples in the upper room, ‘The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). The highest demonstration of Jesus’ love for us was that he gave himself to serve us… and he calls his people to likewise give themselves in service to others.

 

Jesus took on the role of the servant at the last supper and washed his disciples’ feet, and he calls all his followers – all his disciples – to do likewise. The great ones in the kingdom of God are not the powerful and clever and talented ones – the ones that Jesus esteems as ‘great’ are the ‘great servants’.

 

1 Pet 4:10 says "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms". Let us to focus for a moment on the second half of the verse – that, as we use our gifts to serve, we are – quote - faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. Just stop and think about that that is saying – As I serve others, I am a steward of God’s grace to them – God ministers his grace to others through me.

 

This verse reminds us of the amazing privilege and responsibility of Christian service – as I serve, God is doing his work through me. Peter gives two examples in verse 11: Firstly,

11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.

 

When the preacher preaches, he is speaking God’s words to people. That is why he must prepare sermons carefully beforehand, to understand and apply the scriptures, so that he can share God’s word with the congregation, and not merely his own ideas and opinions. When he preaches God’s word faithfully, his is doing it in the knowledge that God’s Spirit will take that word and applies it to people’s hearts. There is a spiritual dimension going on, which is unseen, but real nonetheless. It is staggering that God would choose to use our weak and feeble and flawed efforts to work his purposes in the lives of people – that he would minister his grace to others through us.

 

But don’t think for a moment that this is a special privilege that God bestows only on preachers. No – the point of this passage is that this is how God works through each one of us. The ‘speaking’ that Peter is talking about here in verse 11 is not limited to preaching – it is any Christian who speaks to others. Each time we speak, we should be consciously seeking to speak God’s words to people. As we encourage one another, as we comfort the mourner, as we counsel the confused, as we share our faith with a neighbour… these are all opportunities to speak God’s word in the life of another; an opportunity for God to minister his grace to them, through us.

 

And this is not limited to ‘speaking’ either – that was just one example. Verse 10 says that we administer God's grace in its various forms. This is literally – we administer God’s ‘multi-faceted grace’, or ‘many-coloured grace’. God’s grace is not monochrome; it doesn’t come solely through word-ministries. There are a wide variety of ways in which to minister, because God has given us a variety of gifts. Peter gives a second example in verse 11 – serving one another, and if we look back at verses 8 and 9, there are two more examples – love and hospitality. Lists of spiritual gifts elsewhere in the New Testament confirm the huge diversity of ways in which God has equpped us to serve.

 

God’s gifts to us are not monochrome – they are 'multi-coloured' ... and as we use the gifts that God has given us, we are administering God’s multi-coloured grace to others. The person who speaks – God’s speaks through them. The person who serves – they are God’s hands and feet. The person who encourages - they are God’s counsellor. The person who shares is the conduit of God’s blessing. The one who leads – God shepherds his flock through them. And the one who shows compassion – they are God’s tears and God’s embrace to the one in need. That ought to be the way that we all think about every act of Christian service – that as we work, God would work through us, to minister his grace to others.

Understanding our gifts in this way must revolutionise how we think about our Christian service. Service is not something we do begrudgingly, out of a sense of duty. Service is not a matter of filling a slot on a roster because there was no-one else to do it. Christian service is not a duty, but a privilege.

 

It staggers me that God would choose to act in this way. God’s strategy to reach the world with the gospel and his strategy to build-up his church … relies on our service! God chooses to use us – feeble and flawed and fearful creatures that we are – to be his mouth, to be his hands and feet, to be his comfort, to shower his blessings and so on. What an amazing privilege.

This ennobles everything we do for God. Whatever we do, whether word or deed – we do it to bring God’s glory and to minister his grace. To respond appropriately to God’s word today, we should all want to find those ways in which God best minister through us, and then throw ourselves in lives of loving service. And on the last day, when we are standing before our Lord and God, we will hear those wonderful words – “well done, good and faithful servant”.