“In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.”
Romans 12:6-7 NLT
We continue to look at the list of motivational gifts listed in Romans 12. The next one Paul listed was “serving others”. Service is not a fashionable word today, and perhaps one still carrying negative connotations because it exposed a class distinction between those who “have” and those who “haven’t”. Servants were people who found employment as a butler, maid, or cook, serving an aristocratic or wealthy family in a big house somewhere. The class distinction can be seen in period dramas and television series such as “Downton Abbey”.
Back in the 1930’s, my father found employment as an under butler, serving several families such as the Youngers, of Scottish brewery fame, who owned the large house at Mount Melville near St. Andrews in Fife. Before him, his father was a chauffeur/gardener, latterly working at Huntingtower near Perth. Today, the same jobs exist, but have different names. But in the end, every act of employment is a form of service, because we serve an employer.
However, was Paul referring to employment when he wrote that God has given us a gift of “serving others”? I think not, because he was bringing in the notion that “serving others” is both an essential part of Christian fellowship, and is underpinned by a heart attitude that is enhanced by a gift from God. Note three things here – “serving others” is something that God wants us to do, that He wants us to do well, and something that He has enhanced and helped us with a gift. In God’s Kingdom, the question – “What’s in it for me”? – is replaced by an attitude of heart that says – “What can I do for them”? In Philippians 2:3-4 Paul wrote, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too“. Jesus taught His disciples about “serving others”. We read in Mark 10:42-44, “So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world Lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else“.
So, what does all this mean for us pilgrims? Well, first of all, we are called to serve God, as we read in 1 Samuel 12:24, “But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you“. Also, serving others is not an option in our Christian lives. We Christians all need to be in fellowship, and, once there, we need to look for opportunities to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And some of us will find that our willingness to serve is enhanced by a gift from God. How wonderful is that?
Dear God. Thank You that You saved us for a life of service. We thank You for the encouragement that You have provided. Amen.