A Time to Serve

What are you doing to serve others?

How are you serving your family? You receive so much from your parents. They supply the basic necessities of life, send you to Christian schools, and drive you to music lessons, sporting events, and other appointments. Your mothers and fathers serve you in so many ways. What are you doing to serve them? How do you serve your brothers and sisters, who maybe are not always very kind to you?

What are you doing to serve the other members of the church individually and collectively, as young people’s societies? As I am writing this, your Bible study season has reached its midpoint. By the power of the Spirit of truth your Bible study has been profitable under the direction of your spiritual leaders. Fundraising efforts are in full swing. The young people are asking their congregations to help fund convention expenses by supporting their fundraisers or by giving when the collection plate is passed in a worship service or at a song service. Soon plans will be made to attend the convention that Hope (Walker) PRC members are busily planning. Maybe you have enjoyed an activity or outing together—a gym night, a ball game, or a bonfire. But what planning have you done to serve the members of your congregation? Did you sing Christmas carols to the elderly? Did you rake leaves or help with other chores at the homes of some members of the church? If you have, then I want to encourage you to continue these activities. If not much planning has been done, then I want to encourage you to begin.

Receiving help from your church is a good thing. What a blessing to receive financial and spiritual help from the other members of your churches. Because of the reality that conventions cost money and you want out-of-pocket expenses to be lower for the convention, the focus easily becomes receiving help from the congregation. Our congregations have always been extremely generous when it comes to supporting our young people. For this support the young people are thankful. As you have received, do not forget to give.

Service, not receiving, is a chief mark of the Christian life. Ministering to God’s people in their time of trouble is the essence of the Christian life. James 1:27 teaches this truth: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Paul commands us in Galatians 5:13, “by love serve one another.” In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus teaches that at the Judgment Day we must give an account of how we loved and served the least of our brethren. Mercy, love, and kindness shown in word and deed have always been the hallmark of the Christian life. As members of Christ’s church, you are called to serve the other members of the church. On the basis of Scripture’s teaching, the Heidelberg Catechism, in Answer 55, teaches us that the communion of the saints means “that everyone must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members.”

Those who know God and His Son Jesus Christ want to serve in response to what God has done. Our Lord is merciful, gracious, and kind. He cares for the needy. He is a Father who takes pity upon His children in all of their weakness (Ps. 103:13). “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land” (Ps. 68:5, 6). How amazing is the mercy, grace, and kindness God has shown to you in Jesus Christ.

Our Savior Jesus Christ came to this earth to serve His Father and His people. His service for us was revealed with such clarity in the upper room on the eve of His death when He washed His disciples’ feet. When none of the disciples would do the job because it was the menial, disgusting, lowly job of a slave, Jesus got down on His hands and knees and washed their sweaty, dirty feet. Afterward Jesus instructed them and us in John 13:12b-15: “Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you.” Jesus came to serve by His death on the cross. As His people, we are called to follow His example by washing each other’s feet (serving). The apostle Paul teaches us the same thing in II Corinthians 5:15, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.”

Because God cares for His needy people, His needy people are to do likewise. Because Jesus served us by His death on the cross, we are to serve others. In effect, we are to do unto others as Jesus has done for us. Because God has loved us, we are to love others (I John 4:11). Because Jesus laid down His life for us, we are to lay down our lives for one another (I John 3:16). As those who have received the tender compassion of the Lord we are to demonstrate tenderness in kind to those around us.

God calls us to love our neighbor—every person with whom we come into contact in this world. There is no doubt about this. Yet, the Scripture calls us to love especially our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are to do good to all, but especially to the household of faith. Love for Christ is shown by loving our fellow saints. The life of service I am emphasizing is the life of serving others in the church. This service is not limited to those in the home and church. But here is where true service starts, for these are the people God has put in our path each day.

To be involved in service of others does not mean we have to go far away to do this. There may be opportunities for serving God’s people in far-off places where the saints are in great need. It is wonderful to help God’s people who are affected by the great destruction caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding. But let us not forget the many opportunities that are right under our noses in our homes and churches.

What are these acts of true service? Such acts of service have a right motivation—love for Jesus Christ and love for the neighbor. There are many people who do nice things for other people, but their motivation is all wrong—they are motivated by selfishness. They want glory for themselves, or they think that doing good will somehow bring good karma in the future. These are not true acts of service. I call your attention to this because this is a danger for us. There is the danger that we do things for others because it feels good or it looks good on a resumé or on a college application.

True acts of kind service do not want recognition. They are content to be in the background and even done in secret. They don’t demand something in return. Service is motivated by the love of Jesus Christ. True service is humble duty in the small things of life. This is what Jesus taught us when He washed His disciples’ feet.

This kind of service is so difficult because of the selfishness that resides in our hearts. We live in an age that is self-centered. This self-centeredness exists in each of our hearts. When selfishness rules in the heart there is no concern for others. Then there is no time for serving others. “I have too much going on”—if you have ever thought this or said this, think about what this says concerning your heart. Selfishness wants acknowledgment for the things we have done. It wants people to know. May the Holy Spirit drive this selfishness from our hearts.

I hope that the Word of God inspires you to acts of service. But maybe you are wondering what acts of service can be done. I would like to provide a list of some possible activities.

Let’s start at home. Your parents do so much for you. What can you do to serve them? Without thinking much you might reply, “I should obey them.” This is a good place to start. Remember that service is done in the small moments of life. You can serve your parents by obeying their instructions without forcing them into repeating their instructions. When you do your chores around the house, you can do them without grumbling or complaining, remembering what a great blessing it is to have a family, a home, clothes, food, running water, electricity, and heat in a world where millions of teens do not have such things. You could do things around the house without having to be asked. These are examples of the actions of true service. The hard part is to do them with the right motivation. The right motivation is not that you want to build a resumé for the time when you want to ask for the car or money. True service does not expect anything in return. Instead it is done because you love them and your Savior, Jesus Christ.

How can you serve your brother(s) and/or sister(s)? Service is expressed often with kindness. Instead of putting them down with criticism, you can build them up with compliments. Any criticism you give to your brother or sister will be for their improvement and not to cut down or belittle them. You can share the things you have with them willingly. What are some other ways you can serve your siblings?

How can you serve the other members of the church? I remember quite a few years ago that a young people’s society decided all on their own that once a month on a Sunday afternoon they would go sing to some of the elderly saints in the church. What a wonderful activity of service. Visiting elderly saints in the church is a wonderful way to serve them. But there are things that they may need help with. A blind member could use some young people who could read the bulletin or theStandard Bearer. I know of a young people’s society that sent cards to those who were sick or those who had lost a loved one in death. All the young people would sign the card.

One of the ways to serve our churches would be for the young people to visit a mission field. They could go there to help promote a speech, or the Sunday worship services in the community, or help the mission in some other way. When young people give of their time and money to make this kind of trip, it is a wonderful example of true service within the church.

As you continue to study the Word in your Bible studies and in private devotions, may you grow in the truth of God’s Word. God’s Word reveals the amazing love of God in Jesus Christ for sinners. What a wonderful truth. Those who love that truth live that truth by serving others. May God grant you growth in learning how to serve Jesus Christ by serving saints.