Ministry and service
Jesus wouldn't turn his face away.
down, talk to him, help
him out. What
would YOU do?
Isaiah (OT) was a prophet—which meant that he spoke on behalf of God. His book contains 66 chapters, but right up-front in chapter 1 he lays out this important command:
"Learn to do right!
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow."
For many people, such service to others is simply the right thing to do. Some pursue caring professions; others give money to charities; others give many hours in voluntary work. At the other end of the spectrum are those who think that it's 'every man for himself'—if you've fallen on hard times, then that's just tough (I wonder, does that attitude change when they experience difficulties?).
So serving others is not a uniquely Christian calling. However, the Bible does make it very clear that God expects us to love one another as he loves us—and that that love is not a squidgy, touch-feely thing, but must be lived out in real, determined action.
Jesus could rightly claim the majesty of being God, but did he spend time sitting around sipping fine wines with other leaders and high society? No, he spent time on the streets, talking to and caring for all the most vilified, down-trodden, disease-ridden, immoral and rejected people in society—people, in other words, who could do little for themselves. Jesus led by example.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians (NT), said: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." And James (NT) was quite stern about it: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead… As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit in you will challenge you. ‘You’ve been blessed by God,’ he will say, ‘now, how are you going to bless others?’ Whether or not you heed that calling is up to you.
But Jesus makes it quite clear: the day will come when we will have to explain ourselves before God—the day when he separates the ‘sheep from the goats’; the righteous from the unrighteous. He says when we fail to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the sick or visit those in prison (just a few examples of how we can serve), we are actually doing it to him.
Many Christians devote a huge amount of time to prayer and Bible-reading. This is a good thing, but it’s important to get the balance right: the more time we spend building ourselves up means the less time we have to build up other people.
If Christ is in us, then we will want to reflect him in all we do. Jesus said, “…Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Serving others should be done selflessly, humbly, without seeking reward, and as a form of worship—but most of all, it should be done.
It's good for others, it's good before God, and it's good for you.
Pray: Lord, give me a heart for other people. In each situation, show me how I can be of use; how I can be you to them. Whether that's just listening, or providing a meal, or taking on voluntary work... let me reflect what you have done for me in doing things for others.
Watch the video clip What would you do?
Read the testimony of someone who was called to serve in a particular way
Watch the music video of Delirious' History Maker
Read the online article Serving God by serving others
Watch a video clip about what it takes to be a superhero
Watch a video clip and get out of your box
Read the book Jesus Says Go: You've Only Got One Life by Robin Wells
Read the book The Power of Serving Others: You Can Start Where You Are
by Gary Morsch & Dean Nelson
Read the book The Call to Conversion: Why Faith Is Always Personal But Never Private by Jim Wallis
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