Sunday, January 11, 2015

The JOY of Serving Others

I think it was Mark Twain who said, “The best way to cheer your self up is to try to cheer somebody else up."  

Whether you’re going through a relationship breakup, or bummed about something challenging in your life, it helps to take the focus off yourself and your her own problems.  

My friend Barbara did that. She was going through a breakup and wanted to move her perspective from self to God—and make a difference for His good purposes.  

Barbara said, “It felt right, and it gave me purpose.”  

Despite her circumstances Barbara found that when she was blessing others with acts of service and kindness, God blessed her with joy. Instead of waiting for another man to come around, she could “wait on” or serve others. “Like a waitress who serves other people, I can wait on God while waiting on God.” she concluded. Whatever we do for others, we essentially do for Jesus Christ. (Matthew 25:40).  

I have to remember that my life is not just about me. God created us for Himself and part of that is serving other people. “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)  

The reason we serve, though, is not because good works will save our souls. No, God gave us grace for that. It’s not to earn points for favor with God. We serve others because God asks us to, and because He has done so much for us.  

It is out of a heart of delight, not just duty that we choose to serve others.  

So we go across the ocean, not just to tell, but to demonstrate love to a ten-year-old boy in the Czech Republic who has never heard of God’s love. We show up on Saturday mornings at the rescue mission to serve food to those who don’t have enough eat. Or even, like my friend Anne, we offer to drive our non-churched friends to church so they can hear the truth about God’s love and forgiveness and be forever changed.  

"If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:10) 

Think of the Christian life as a two-sided sponge—the yellow spongy side absorbs the water and the rough, green side scrubs. Likewise, we absorb God’s truth (through reading the Bible, hearing a speaker, or reading a book, for example) and then we go out and serve.  

First the Word, then the work.  

You may be surprised at the divine appointments God puts in your path as you open your eyes to the needs around you. It doesn’t even have to be an organized service project. Serving can include something as simple as being kind to the woman behind the counter at the dry cleaners. When you take the time to say “hello” and smile, even when you think you are in too much of a hurry, it can make a difference in one person’s day.  

Dwight L. Moody once said "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do."
What are you willing to do to serve God by serving others today?
You may just end up being, as C. S. Lewis said, “surprised by joy.”





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