Believers and non-believers alike recognize the importance of service. Consider the following quotes:
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” ― Martin Luther King
“One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley
“Your life will become better by making other lives better.” ― Will Smith
But what’s really the big deal with service? Why is it important for us to build a habit of service?
Service is the Responsibility of a Faithful Steward
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Do you realize that there is no-one on this entire planet that is the exact same as you? No-one who looks the same, thinks the same, acts the same, or has the exact same gifts as you do? God has gifted each and every one of us in a unique way. How should you use the unique talents God has given you? To serve others! Why? Because that’s why God gave them to you. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that that is why God lent them to you. Your gifts, like your bodies, are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19). You were bought with a price… so live like it. Be a faithful steward and use the gifts God has given you to serve others.
Jesus Modeled a Life of Service
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45 (NIV)
In addition to service being our responsibility as stewards of our God-given gifts, we should also serve because Jesus modeled a life of service. We see this clearly demonstrated in the apostle John’s account of the Passover. When Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples in the upper room, he did something few humans can even comprehend. He washed the feet of his disciples. This would have been shocking even if he was merely their rabbi, but he was their God, the creator and sustainer of all that has been, is, and ever will be. The Lord of all creation was cleaning the grime between the toes of his subjects. Why? Because Jesus wanted us to realize that if He can serve, so can we. So should we.
We are Blessed When We Serve
“… remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35b (NIV)
I can personally attest to the fact that serving is a blessing. When opportunities to serve others come my way, I find myself blessed. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to help someone else out – even in ways that may insignificant at the time. A small thing to you might be a big thing to someone else. Don’t let opportunities to help others pass you by. Not only will you be depriving someone else of the encouragement your servant heart could bring, but you will be robbing yourself of the blessing that comes when we serve.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ― John Holmes
Service Demonstrates the Validity of Our Faith to the World
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17 (NIV)
James is making a powerful statement in this passage about what authentic faith looks like. He says that faith that is unaccompanied by works is worthless. It’s not real. It means nothing, and it accomplishes nothing. If we claim to love God, but don’t love others, then our faith is dead (1 John 4:20). We demonstrate the validity of our faith when we love others just as we have been loved by Christ. How do we love others? There are many ways, but one of them is through service. Serving others – especially when we get nothing in return – shows non-believers that there’s something different about us. It enables us to be the light of the world talked about in Matthew 5:14, displaying a spirit of generosity, love, and humility for all of the world to see.
Making an Attitude of Service a Habit
Once we acknowledge the importance of service in the life of believers, we need to take things one step further, and make service a habit. This is critical, because a habit is, to put it simply, an automatic response to a given cue. In other words, if we make service a habit, we won’t even need to think about serving. It’ll happen automatically whenever an opportunity to be a blessing (our cue) to someone else arises. Can you imagine the impact we could have on this world if we were all to make service a habit?
But how do we do this? How do we build a habit of service? The key to building a habit of any kind is repetition, and in the case of service, it is no different. In order to build a habit of service, you have to serve… every time an opportunity comes your way, including when it isn’t convenient. If you take up every opportunity to serve that comes your way, after a while, you’ll find yourself doing it automatically. Not only will you be snatching up the opportunities you stumble upon, but you will also begin to start looking for additional opportunities to be a blessing to others. Why? Because although it is often difficult to put the needs above others above our own, once you do, you are blessed.
Live It Out
Begin building the habit of service today. Be on the lookout for opportunities to serve others. It could be a door you can hold open for someone, dishes you can put away, laundry you can fold… anything. Remember that no task is too small, and that what might seem minute to you may be a big deal to the person you’re serving. Serve over and over and over and over and over again, and eventually, you won’t even have to think about it. You will have built a habit of service.