This week, we discussed the topic of serving. We shared our epic fail moments and funny bloopers in our various serving experiences. In most cases, we realized that our failures in serving stemmed from being self-centered and selfish. In fact, we came to conclude that serving as a Christian is diametrically different to what serving is in the world.
There are hundreds of places in the Bible that show not only that God commands us to serve him but also that he is worthy of serving. However, this duty to serve isn’t motivated by self-righteousness, or holier-than-thou mentality nor is it motivated by a desire to earn favor and through our good works ultimately earn salvation.
Serving matures our faith. It sharpens our faith. It purifies our faith. Serving and every other spiritual discipline or habit of faith leads the Spirit to clash directly with our flesh. And the devil will do everything he can to keep you from being faithful to God.
Serving is enabled by God’s grace alone
In fact, this is the essence of Christian serving. We don’t serve to earn forgiveness. We gain the ability to serve out of the forgiveness we’ve already received in Jesus Christ. If we serve to try and earn salvation,, serving becomes a means to an end that we will never be able to fulfill. It will be a toiling and suffering for nothing because the reality is, we can never earn our salvation.
When we serve from the reality of being already forgiven, there is incredible freedom in our serving. We can serve without expecting anything in return because all our needs and wants have already been filled. Every blessing from our serving becomes another gift of grace.
Therefore, we are able to serve out of pure gratitude and joy for all that God has done for us. If we understand what we truly deserve as sinners and enemies of God, which is judgment and wrath of God, and we understand what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, there is only gladness and complete willingness in our serving. What did Jesus do for us? He saved us from the God-sized pit that we were trapped in by our sins. But not only were we saved from eternal punishment in hell, we were given a new life as well to become sons and daughters of God! We became co-heirs with Christ!
If we are unable to serve with gladness, we contradict our profession in our worship and our witness as Christians. For the Christian, serving is not obligatory, it is something we hunger to do. It is something that we must seek after. A Christian who does not serve others is either young in the faith or has seriously misunderstood the grace of God.
Therefore, serving for the Christian is not a burden. We do not do it begrudgingly, with resentment or reluctantly. However, just like there is a bad striving motivated by legalism and selfish ambition and a good striving for the glory of God, there is a holy burden which presses on our hearts to want to do more and do something about the needs of others and injustices of this world.
Serving that is set apart by the Holy Spirit
We serve because when we become Christians, we are each uniquely gifted to serve by the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t matter what personality you have, what experiences you’ve had, where you were brought up or what you know and don’t know. We’re all uniquely gifted by God to serve as we are given the Holy Spirit.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”1 Corinthians 12:4-7
And the spiritual gifts aren’t primarily for our personal benefit. The main purpose we are given the manifestation, or you could also say to make visible the invisible, is for the common good.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”1 Peter 4:10
It’s easy to focus on the kinds of serving that we think is more important than the others just like we more easily focus on the more extravagant kinds of spiritual gifts. In my opinion though, it is these “lesser” kinds of gifts and types of serving that require much more faith and power of the Spirit.
When the stakes are high and something seems impossible, it’s easier to expect God and easier to have faith in God because you have no other choice but to trust God. But when something is mundane and very ordinary, it takes more faith to seek God to do the extraordinary through it. But once you experience that in your life, you will begin to realize how awesome it is to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every interaction, even simply saying hello, every ordinary and mundane moment in your life will become an opportunity to expect and experience the power of the Holy Spirit.
But to continue in these experiences, it requires dedicated hard work and a devotion to serve. Just because we’ve been given the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean we automatically become experts in the gifts of the Spirit and always serve in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We need to sow diligently into practicing and exercising our gifts. We won’t grow in our gifts if we don’t use it.
Serving that exercises the gifts of the Holy Spirit
Gifts that are unopened are unable to be experienced and enjoyed. This is the main difference between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens the moment we are saved. But being filled with the Holy Spirit is something that we need to seek regularly. We could have received the gift but if we don’t use it, we won’t have a chance to experience this filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit.
This isn’t a perfect illustration but it’s like becoming a citizen of the United States. We have the indwelling when we receive our certificate of citizenship. But we aren’t filled until we actually enjoy all the privileges of that citizenship such as voting, becoming an elected official and becoming eligible for federal jobs. And also as important is to fulfill all the responsibilities that citizenship requires which is to give up all prior allegiances to any other nation or sovereignty and swear allegiance to the United States, support and defend the Constitution and serve the country in times of war.
In the same way, we we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit upon our salvation but unless we live out our faith by becoming active in our serving through the privilege of God’s grace and we uphold the responsibilities of our salvation by being set apart and holy as children of God, we will not be able to experience and enjoy the filling of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
Join me every Monday and Wednesday at 11AM ET for a zoom hangout to start building habits of faith that will guide you for the rest of your life! Each week will be a different topic or habit to learn, discuss and share with other college students and young adults. Follow the link below for our zoom meeting.
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