A man who grew up being taken to church but who does not believe that God exists once told me, “If you live your life like the Bible says to, people will say you are a good person. The trouble is, if God exists, He knows your heart and that’s what He judges, not what you do.”
Believers and nonbelievers alike recognize that people can simply go through the motions and follow a way of life but be far from where God really wants us to be. This is where our faith is stretched between a salvation based on works or true faith. The truth is that the Bible teaches: “We are saved by grace through faith and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift” (Ephesians 2:8), and “be doers of the word and not hearers only… faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself” (James 1:22, 2:17). We must recognize that we can put our faith to good works and follow how God wants us to love one another.
This week we are finishing our conversation about the spiritual disciplines by exploring the discipline of serving, so based on the above, I ask you… Are you serving because you think it will buy your way into heaven? Are you serving so that you look good to those around you? Are you serving simply to set that as an example for your children but you really don’t want to be there? Only you know the answers to those questions.
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
As Hebrews 13:15-16 states, serving others is a continuation of worshipping the Lord. If you are not spending time in His Word, meditating on His Word, praying to Him for direction, and giving the Lord His praise through worship, then serving is just a duty. It is yet another task to be completed that has no real lasting impact except to wear you out, wear your family out, and show others that they are really not that important to you or to God.
Now, will you always like what ‘serving’ you are doing? Probably not. But, if you heart is in line with God’s will, then God will supply the energy and all your needs to get your task done. 1 Peter 4:11 states, “Whoever serves, [let it be] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” An example, I love to clean. Even when we were exploring whether God was really calling our family into a family retreat ministry and we were blessed to spend a few weeks with the great folks at Sonrise Mountain Ranch in Colorado, I offered to clean. They had a cleaning crew and my cleaning skills weren’t needing, but I was totally willing to scrub toilets in order to be a part of the ministry. Now that Clear View Retreat has come to fruition, cleaning has become what I MUST do to forward the ministry of CVR. The first dozen times I cleaned those cabins, I was thrilled with the excitement of families coming and then once they were there, my getting to do what is my greatest passion – teach and equip. However, cleaning became tedious, boring, frustrating, monotonous, you name it. My attitude was becoming quite un-Christianly, if ya know what I mean. I have often said that I would like to write a book about our ministry journey titled, “This is NOT what I signed up for!” because I did not sign up to be cleaning 12-24 hours a week depending on the number of events. However, God, in His loving patience and wisdom, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You did sign up for this. You are mine. I love you, and this is what I want you to do for Me.” He also reminded me that the dirt I was cleaning was from a life impacted. So, I started praying… first for the family who had just stayed with us, that they would remember their time and be blessed by it, and second, for the family coming, that God would show up and show off for them, and, third, I thanked Him for allowing me to be a part of those changes, even if it was a family who came only for respite and we didn’t even have a chance to meet except through email.
Not everyone is called to run a ministry, but we are all called to serve. Galatians 5:13 tells us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Where do you serve? You serve when you make a sandwich for your little one who loves gifts (yep, and if you cut it into a shape, that gift-lover is beyond thrilled). You serve when you have the laundry ready for your teenage daughter who mostly does her laundry herself but with all those exams and practices, she plum forgot to wash her FAVORITE outfit for the game tonight. You serve when you wash dishes, pick up socks, go to work without complaining, and so much more. That is serving, too. And, how do you serve as a family in your biblical community?
You can all make a meal together to take to the family facing a medical crisis. Little ones love to stir the brownies, especially if you make two batches (one to give away and one to keep). And, let them come when you drop off the food (if appropriate). One family at our church is all in with VBS. The wife actually runs it, so I guess it could be a duty for her, but with her smile and delight, everyone can see she is worshipping the Lord with her serving. Her husband clears his morning work schedule and volunteers; their two children are there, all day, every day, serving as needed.
Some families serve together on the mission field. They spend their time praying about where God would have them go and raising money throughout the year to be able to pay for it. Once on the mission field, they serve the groups of outreach but also one another through devotions and prayers.
I know another family who serves together at the nursing home. Everyone goes, no matter their age. They deliver potted plants on Valentine’s Day, they help run arts and crafts when they can, the struggling young pianist shows his growing skills, and they love on folks God has placed in that home.
Where are you and your family called to serve? Wherever it is, the goal is to make much of Christ. SERVE. Serve God and serve each other because no matter what your family Bible time looks like today and no matter what combination of reading, studying, meditating, worshipping, praying, or serving, remember 1 Samuel 12:24 “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
Our prayer for the families who come to or who are impacted in some way by CVR is that you would have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
Thank you for joining us this month as we explored four of the spiritual disciplines, family style. Please join us next week as Jim and I blog together for the month of March focusing on marriage.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney, NavPress; Updated, Revised edition (July 1, 2014)
**Please check with your home church for more serving opportunities that are local, national, and global.
Get serving, families.