By: Melanie Clarke
This week we will be practicing the spiritual discipline of service. The spiritual discipline of service is practiced for three main reasons: to serve those around us, to bring glory to God and to grow more like Christ. Service takes our focus off ourselves and puts our attention and our effort on others. The spiritual discipline of service is motivated by the two greatest commandments, to love God and to love our neighbours (Mark 12:29-31).
Jesus’s teachings to his disciples emphasize the importance of being a servant. Matthew 20:25-28 says “But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Service as a spiritual discipline is the true fruit of love and righteousness unto others. It is also about being intentional to replace our traits that are ungodly and inhibit our spiritual growth, with Christ-like traits. It is the decision to overcome our pride with humility, overcome our arrogance with modesty and overcome our selfishness with selflessness. Service as a spiritual discipline means serving God & others in a way that is not necessarily familiar, but will grow you in a new way.
So what does the spiritual discipline of service look like?
- Service is hard work (John 13:1-17): One of the most meaningful examples of service in the Bible happens during the Last Supper, when Jesus takes it upon himself to wash each of his disciples’ feet before supper. This is not a fun or easy task (in fact, it’s pretty gross!), but Jesus did this as a way to serve his disciples by meeting their tangible needs. We are called to serve not just by doing things that are easy and convenient, but by stepping out of our comfort zone to meet the real-life needs that people have.
- Service is self-sacrificial (John 15:13): We are told in John 15:13 that there is no greater love that exists than to lay down our lives for our friends. When we serve others as a spiritual discipline, we are called to put aside our own needs and wants, and put the needs of others above us. Service does not come from our excess, but comes at a cost to ourselves and requires sacrifice.
- Service is not done for recognition (Matthew 6:3): Service is not done to put the spotlight on the servant, but rather to bless the served. It requires humility and valuing the interests of others above your own.
- Service is for God’s glory (Colossians 3:23-24): Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” When we serve, we serve with a joyful heart to bring honour to God.
Let’s be intentional this week about service, honouring God and others with our actions, and becoming more like Christ in the process. Sacrifice yourself to benefit someone else, work hard at something you’re not comfortable with and do a hidden act of service (like shovelling someone’s driveway without them seeing it) as ways to practice the spiritual discipline of service.