Do you ever hear the word ‘serving’ and feel a bit burdened? It sometimes feels that in our already busy lives it’s just another unrealistic expectation that, as Christians, we are required to do. And what’s worse is that if we don’t then we can end up feeling guilty. It’s vicious circle!
People go from one extreme of feeling they are far too busy to serve to taking on far too much and then feeling grumpy and resentful. Both attitudes are missing the point. We sometimes mistake being servant-hearted for a list of burdens, but I don’t believe we are being called to burn ourselves out or to live in a way that is unsustainable. We need to live in a way that honours God, reflecting Jesus’ love and light – to be love in action.
This is what servant-heartedness encapsulates. It combines the example of Jesus of serving being happy to lift others above yourself, to be last, but most importantly this is entwined with genuine love. Not resentment and bitterness, self righteousness and frustration. But love!
For me one of the best examples of love in action is dedicated parents. There may be times when this love comes across in a big obvious action like going on a special holiday or buying a special gift, but it’s the everyday unseen devotion and care like comforting a sick child through the night, loving them through a screaming tantrum, or providing for them without expecting any thanks, grace or love in return. It is not polished and glamorous, it’s real, it’s messy and motivated by love. How challenging is that?!
Recently, I felt incredibly burdened and a bit resentful in some of thing things I was doing to serve and I realised I had totally left love out of the equation. I had become so focused on the actions and being a ‘good Christian’, that I totally forgot that love needed to be at the centre. As a result I started to feel frustrated when what I was doing was not appreciated or when I was not being treated how I would like to be. I actually had to take a big step back from what I was doing. I had to wrestle with God for my attitude to my serving and the people I was serving. Only then when my attitude had changed was I able to see this not as a burden but as a delight and to see growth in this area.
I felt God started to open my eyes in a new way. I am hungry to see the community around me come to know God, to have freedom, healing and breakthrough. But even thinking about this started to weigh me down as it felt impossible, unachievable. Why? I was thinking about what I could do in my own strength. It was only then when I surrendered this to Jesus that He spoke clearly to me.
Over several months he showed me clearly he wanted me to serve the community in a small simple way. I resisted for a while thinking this was not big enough or powerful enough to make a change, but I felt him whisper to my heart to be obedient. So I started serving in a small way, and as I started to do this small action I questioned God: “What is this going to do? It seems so insignificant, how could this make any difference?” I felt God put so clearly on my heart this words “you are being love in action”. It struck me that it’s not about grand gestures or a spotlight on our actions, but a down-to-earth approach of real life demonstrating love in action
No matter where we are, we can be this love in action. We can stand out from the crowd by choosing to respond differently when people are rude to us, we can serve and be loving to the colleagues who are difficult and put us down. We can be honouring and walk in integrity even when we are being treated badly.
I want to encourage you this week to reflect that if what you are doing has become a duty rather than an act of love why not ask God to refresh you. Stop and see where He wants to transform your attitude and love in this area. Maybe he is challenging you to step back from what you are doing, simply so you can be available to people when they need you and for when God asks you to do something.
Praying you have a blessed week,