by Eva Juliuson
How would you feel if the president of the United States entered your living room, knelt beside your chair, slipped off your shoes, and tenderly washed your feet?
What kind of a leader would do such a thing?
The Son of God left his exalted position in Heaven to serve us. He did not come to wield his power so everyone might cower at his every whim. He did not use his authority to hurt us, misuse us, or rule over us for selfish reasons. Instead, he took the lead by becoming a servant, even to the point of dying on the cross as payment for our sins. He now calls us to follow him in a lifestyle of humble service.
Society tells leaders to climb the ladder of success in order to become great. In the kingdom of God, leaders hold the ladder for others as they find their way to Jesus. Just as our heavenly Father asked Jesus to serve, the Son of God asks us to lead by serving others.
Serving with Love
Jesus left Heaven to serve us. Our Savior didn’t gripe that he had to come, or whine about what he had to give up, or boast about who he was and what he was doing. He came in love and humility, knowing he would be misunderstood, ridiculed, and abandoned. Though our Lord held all power and dominion, he willingly held out his hands to be arrested, silently accepted the accusation for crimes for which he was innocent, and surrendered to die on a cross. He knew there was no other way, no one else holy and pure enough to die in our place. What led Jesus to serve in such a way?
His motives were his deep love for God, who sent him to serve us, and his deep love for us, knowing we would perish without his intervention. Can such reasons become our motivation as well?
Have you ever seen a waitress roll her eyes when you asked for another drink or heard her fuss about how hard her day was? Have you ever been criticized by a nurse when you asked for her help or had a question about your medication? You can tell when there is no love in the serving! If someone is serving simply to get a reward, that’s all he will get. Yet if someone serves with love, the act of serving goes far beyond a simple action. Love serves for the benefit of the one being served. It expects nothing in return, but trusts that it will be multiplied throughout eternity.
Serve What You’ve Been Given
We serve what’s been given to us through Jesus Christ. We serve forgiveness to those who have hurt us, just as Jesus came to serve forgiveness to us. We serve hope everywhere we go—the eternal hope Jesus brought as he opened the way for us to live forever with God. We serve the kind of hope that looks past today’s most challenging hurdles, deepest pits, and darkest hours. It’s the hope that looks forward to the time when there will be no more suffering, disease, hatred, war, and pain. We serve the same love from God who sent his Son to rescue us and bring us home.
By our own choice, out of deepest gratitude and love, we serve Christ. Jesus asked Peter, “‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’” And he reminds us that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
We serve with the attitude of Christ, “who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” Philippians (2:6, 7).
We serve with humility so that we “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3). We do not serve for what we will get out of it, but what others might receive. We serve with tenderness and kindness, with “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:1). We serve with patience because the Lord has been patient with us. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Expecting Eternal Results
We are not saved by service. We are saved by grace. Even so, serving is a way of expressing our gratitude to God for all he has done for us.
Others may not notice the hours we put in, the free time we give up, or the conveniences we lay aside to serve. Students may simply expect their Sunday school teacher to be in the classroom when they arrive, prepared with a lesson and snacks. You might feel taken for granted in the ministry where you serve. No one may say a word about the church bus you drive each week, or the Communion emblems you prepare, or the baptistery towels you wash, or the cookies you bake, or the toilets you clean (until you miss one!) But God notices.
And he not only notices; he uses your acts of service to bless others. They may not appreciate it now, but even the smallest gift of service has the potential to bring eternal results. Some little form of service we do for someone may play a part in turning that person to the Lord. Someday we may see that the jewels in our crown are those who are in Heaven because of some small part we played. Then we will gladly lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus saying, “This was for you!”
We serve with joyful hearts, not so we might be rewarded by compliments, but so others may know the glory of God. If our lives of service shine in a selfish world, we can be the light of the world Jesus calls us to be. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” We can lead others to the Lord by humbly serving them as he has served us.
Eva Juliuson is a freelance writer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Serve One Another in Love
Read, memorize, and apply these Bible verses about serving in love:
• “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).
• “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:11, 12).
• “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35, 36).
• “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9, 10).