Word for the Weekend #3: Service

Service: What’s your motivation?

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word service is “something done for someone else.” That sounds pretty good, right? But is this service given freely or is there a price or reciprocation required or expected?

It seems to me that distinction makes a world of difference. Are you helping me because you want to be a blessing, or are you hoping that I’ll “scratch your back” in return? Would you still help if no one ever knew you did?

And, if we were speaking about things that we do “for the Lord,” the questions could still be asked. Are we doing them to be seen by others, so that they might esteem us more highly? Are we trying to purchase our way into heaven or into the Lord’s favor?

Oh, and here’s a question: are we serving the Lord, or helping others, for our own sake?

In the world of tennis and volleyball when you serve the objective is precisely not to be a blessing to the receiving party. It’s the same in baseball, though they don’t call it a serve. The goal in this case is entirely selfish! We can do things for others with a selfish motive even when we don’t expect anything from them in return. If our motivation is the good feeling that we get when we help others, then we are acting in our own self interest.

In John 13, before the Last Supper, Jesus began to wash the disciples’ feet. Peter got upset with Jesus and said he wouldn’t allow Him to wash his feet; he felt that it was beneath the Lord to do so. Jesus told him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (v.7, ESV). Afterward, Jesus explained to the disciples that he was setting an example for them. Among other things, He wanted them to realize that serving others is more important than “greatness,” that greatness finds it truest expression in service of God and others.

So, meditate on this over the weekend. When you serve, what is your motivation?

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