Like any other skill or character trait, service takes practice. Like any other spiritual attribute, the practice begins with attitude.
This is the eighth of nine installments of a study about spiritual practices based on the book, Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. So far, we’ve discussed:
Today, we’ll look at Service.
What is service?
- What do people mean when they greet military personnel with, “Thank you for your service?”
- What different motivations might people have for serving others?
- What motivation does God want us to have in serving others?
- How did Jesus serve?
Let’s look at the Word
Read John 13:1-17:
- Who did Jesus serve?
- Why is washing feet something the disciples wouldn’t necessarily volunteer to do? Who usually washed feet?
- What lesson was Jesus trying to teach his disciples?
- Was this a lesson they needed to learn? (See Luke 22:24-26.)
Read Luke 9:48. Richard Foster comments that many of us do not aspire to be the greatest. However, wich of us would aspire to be the least?
- Why is being the “least” difficult? Where on a scale of one to ten is the task of washing feet?
- What makes doing a menial task for someone else difficult?
Read Luke 9:23. What is Jesus asking us to do?
Richard Foster says that submission to God comes before service. We must put ourselves aside to serve God and others.
- Why is submission a necessary step toward godly service?
- How do we “die to self” when we serve others?
- Why does Jesus ask that we put aside ourselves and our own wishes when we serve others?
- How will practicing acts of kindness, charitable giving, and rendering service to others impact our relationship with God?
- How will these practices further our growth in our faith and godliness?
Read 1 Peter 4:10,11, 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Colossians 3:17,23,24. What instructions do these verses give us regarding serving others?
Time to get practical
It’s easy to allow our service to be outward displays. It’s also easy to “do what we’ve always done” and become comfortable with our status quo. If we work in the church nursery, serve on the benevolence committee, and invite the preacher and his energetic children over to dinner once a year, we think we’re doing good!
Stretch yourself this week. Here’s some faith challenges to improve your serve:
- Do something for someone else that you’ve never done before.
- Do something for someone else that they won’t know about so they can’t thank you.
- Do something for someone who has been unkind to you. In other words, overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
How did you do? How were you blessed? You may not see any results or “feel” anything. Know that God sees what you do and He is saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Does it feel uncomfortable? Clumsy? People criticized your motives? Don’t grow weary of doing good. After all, just like any other spiritual discipline, active service takes practice.
For further reading, check out Charles Swindoll’s book, Improving Your Serve.
Next time: The practice of Worship