Having the heart of a servant is what all Christians should strive to achieve. The work that we do no matter it's significance is for the Lord and we must abound in that work with hearts of thankfulness. Why does that concept of serving our Lord always get skewed by thoughts of inadequacy, failure, or lack of time? We place our hope and seek the rewards in the things of this world while we forget about our Lord and the promises that He has already made to us.
We all make excuses. I make them. You make them. Your family makes them. Common excuses in ministry and those around the home all deal with a common theme.
"I'm too tired." "There's a big project at work." "Too much work I have to get done." "I already serve in a ministry." "I gave my tithe on Sunday, God can use that to bless the homeless."
Most excuses are simply excuses. We fail at a basic task to serve, because of our selfish need to look out for number one, me. When we are called to serve, we are called to serve others and not ourselves. If you're married there are plenty of serving moments in your life and areas that you have to sacrifice for your wife or husband to provide for her needs, which are not always financial. If you have kids then you know there are moments when serving another is not an option, it's a necessity. There aren't any sick days or holidays. You and I are called to serve others through the pain we may experience in this life. God wants willing servants who are gracious in the way that they serve. Servants who give of themselves to serve someone else. Do you serve your family willingly or out of obligation? Are you fulfilled when you do something for a member of your family, or are you disgruntled by every instance you have to step in?
Serving Others Outside the Home
When we serve others God is not specifically talking about family. He means serve others. The problem arises when we serve others and don't see an immediate return. We may not help based on a stereotype that our gift will not be used properly. I say leave it to the Lord to decide where your gift goes. In the same way we tithe, so we must serve and give to others without the possibly that it will ever get paid back. We've all heard the comment, "I'm not going to give my money to that guy, because he'll probably buy beer with it or worse, drugs." Though in that same remark I could say, God instructed us not to judge others. Serving is also not handing off an insignificant piece of yourself to another and then continuing on. I think of the story of the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) who served out of inconvenience to help another. He didn't pass by the man on the road. He took time away to help someone in need knowing that it would inconvenience him and knowing that it would help another.
Don't Make a List, and Don't Check It Twice
Matthew 6 talks about the idea of giving so that no one sees. Matthew goes even further on the manner by saying that we should give in secret to the point where our left hand doesn't know what the right is doing.
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4 ESV)
What does that mean? It means we should give without worrying about if another sees it. Everything that we give God sees. No matter how small or insignificant it may be God sees it and He is well pleased when even the slightest act of love is shown to another. God doesn't want us to serve so that we can keep our own tally, but so that we serve and give to others in a manner that it is all for His glory and not ours. Watch out for those who make lists of their ministries and the ways they do their part. I say be wary because those are the Christians who seek glory from men and not from God.
We Were Made to Work
The concept of serving always comes back to the individual and their take on what it means to serve. No matter how much I may try to argue my views on serving there will always be a different view on how serving should be done. Though one point that should remain for all Christians is that we need to serve and we need to serve God. The ability to serve is inherent to our nature. In the garden we were made for work, which by definition leads to active participation and serving. God created us to do "good" works for Him and that's where our servant heart needs to be.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15 ESV)
God created man to work. Though the part even I get hung up on is that work must be easy in order to be fulfilling. Wrong! Work will most of time be a struggle but the fulfillment is not in our solace. The peace we find in our jobs comes from God alone. He provides the strength to endure and He provides the peace in our hearts and minds to continue on.
Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." (John 6:27 ESV)
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10 ESV)
When I feel unsatisfied or frustrated with the work that I have to do I remember that I endure it all for God. A large portion of the time I forget that and become increasingly agitated, but in the end all roads lead back to Him. God is where I have placed my hope at the end of the day and where I store my treasures. Where we place our confidence shows through in our actions to others. When a co-worker sees your frustration and anger pour out in every instance, but knows you're a Christian what does that mean for you and for Him. I encourage you to be strong in Him and when you find that strength in Him you will know what I mean when I say, He is enough.