The Determination to Serve
Matthew 20:28 …”the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Service is usually thought of as doing something for others in a physical way. Preparing a meal for a family going through illness, or for a young mother who just gave birth, or maybe mowing the grass for an elderly person. This is how servants show love for others. It’s how the needy see Jesus Christ in His people. Most servants want to help others so they can get back to helping themselves, but service can turn into long term commitments and the helped sometimes become dependant on the servants.
A couple of years ago I was in Antigua Guatemala for two weeks attempting to improve my Spanish. Every morning I walked to a coffee shop and passed an old woman sitting on the side of the street with an open hand. I would always give her a coin and ask God to bless her as I walked by. She would smile and thank me and return the blessing. One day I walked by and held out my hands in emptiness; “Lo siento, no tengo dinero hoy.” I had nothing for her. Immediately she began to berate me for not remembering to bring her a coin. I felt bad and tried to tell her that I would bring her two coins the next day. She wasn’t happy with my proposal, maybe because I didn’t communicate it well.
I walked away thinking of her ungratefulness and thought of taking a different route to coffee the next day, but we can not write people off just because they mistreat us. Making people dependent on us is not the kind of service Jesus meant for us to give to others. Jesus wants us to serve others that we may show them how to be dependent on Him.
St Francis of Assisi's famous saying, “Preach the gospel; if necessary use words,” sounds pretty good, but I fear that if people aren’t given a clear presentation of the gospel along with the good works, they will come away thinking that it is the good works road that leads to God. No, it is solely by grace.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8,9
Verse 10 comes after 9 for a good reason. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
What we do to serve God and others is not of our choosing; it has been prepared for us in advance. Now as we grow in our relationship to God He will show us our own unique way to serve. It will be different for each of us with the exception of the common duty of all believers; to make Jesus Christ known to the lost.
Let God show you how to make your life a “ransom for many.”
So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does. The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.
Photo: John Akin building clinic in San Vicente Mexico - A Mision de Candelillia project.