Ways to Serve

During this week of Serving in the Red Letter Challenge, it has occurred to me that we use the word “serve” in a lot of different ways. There’s the way I think we usually think of serving—giving of our time and energy and skills for the benefit of others. But there are many other ways the word “serve” enters into our vocabulary. As a tennis player, one of the most important parts of my game is my serve. If you’re watching an episode of Law and Order, you might see someone serve a subpoena. As the hot days of summer are now behind us, you may be missing cooling off with some good soft serve. When we talk about politicians, we often talk about how long they have served in public office. As we drive around Bend, many businesses proclaim on their signs how long they have been serving Central Oregon. I’m sure I’m missing some other ways we throw around the word “serve.”

Just as there are many ways to use the word “serve,” there are also all sorts of ways to follow the command of Jesus to serve others. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul is talking about the gifts God has given to us that we should be putting to use to serve others. He writes, “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” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). What gifts has God given you? What kind of service might He be calling you to fulfill? In what activities can you be engaging to the glory of God and for the benefit of your neighbor?

Sometimes I wonder if we fall into the trap of thinking that every Christian should serve in the same ways—working at a soup kitchen, teaching Sunday School, raking leaves for the elderly, etc. These are all great things to do, but are they in accord with the gifts God has given you? Who has God uniquely designed you to be? What are you able to do that few others can? Has the Spirit placed a passion in your heart in a specific area where you could be a blessing to others? As you consider the varieties of gifts the Spirit has given you, consider also the callings He has given you to live out in your life. When we fulfill our God-given vocations with enthusiasm and excellence, we are truly serving God and His people. 

Martin Luther once gave a sermon on marriage. During that sermon, he talked about how sometimes in marriage we might lament the fact that we have to do such mundane and unpleasant things as rock our crying babies to sleep or change their stinky diapers. Yet, if we view our callings as we should, we will see every task before us as an opportunity to serve. Luther says:  “What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.”

What duties and everyday acts of service has God adorned with His divine approval in your life? As you finish out this week of serving, may you use the gifts and fulfill the callings the Lord has given you, and through it all, may God use you to show the world His own Son, who did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. –Pastor Caleb Adams, October 14, 2021