How to Serve

If it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (v. 15).

- Joshua 24:14–15

Most of us readily identify such things as Bible study, prayer, and worship as essential to the Christian life and our growth in holiness (sanctification). We may be less likely, however, to identify service in the same way. This is unfortunate, as service to the Lord is emphasized from Genesis to Revelation.

Consider, for example, how God called His people to serve Him while they were slaves in Egypt, sending Moses to call the pharaoh to release them (Ex. 8:1). Throughout his epistles, the Apostle Paul describes His relationship to Christ as one of servant to master (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 4:1; Gal. 1:10). Of course, the call for us to serve the Lord is quite obviously discerned in Scripture. Sometimes, however, it is harder to remember that one of the ways we serve God is in our service to others. After all, our Savior tells us that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26).

Service to the body of Christ is not a calling that is given only to ordained ministers and church leaders. When Paul explains that God’s people have gifts to use in the church, he is not speaking only of select individuals but of everyone who is in Christ by faith alone (1 Cor. 12:1–11). Some gifts, such as teaching, are exercised in a manner that is more prominent than others. That does not mean, however, that the Lord sees some gifts and roles as inherently superior to other gifts that might be less visible to the body of Christ as a whole (vv. 12–31). Deacons attend to the needs of the widows and orphans not because it is beneath the dignity of elders to engage in mercy ministry but because elders are specifically gifted for prayer and teaching, and deacons are specifically gifted to steward the church’s resources for the benefit of those in need (Acts 6:1–7). Believers whose gifts are exercised behind the scenes are no less important to the functioning of the church than those whose gifts require them to be in front of people all the time.

Those whom God has gifted to teach must teach. Those whom He has gifted with hospitality must serve, as best they can, the church’s hospitality ministry. We could go on, but the important point to remember is that Jesus commands all of us to exercise our gifts in the church, to develop our ministry skills, and to help His church grow into full maturity (Eph. 4:11–14). Let us obey this call and be active, faithful servants.

Coram Deo

Service to the Lord is not an impossible burden but a delight. Service is hard work, so we will grow tired and face difficulties on occasion. Nevertheless, God will sustain us so that we might serve Him faithfully and store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. If you have not been serving in your local church, now is the time to speak with your leaders so that you might find a place to put your time and talents to good use.

Passages for Further Study

2 Chron. 2:11–16; 4:11
John 13:1–17
Galatians 5:13–14
1 Peter 4:10–11

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