In my key verse today, we see the writer of Hebrews write to the Jews that God does not forget the work and labor done in His name. The Jews had been ministering and were still ministering to each other upon the writing of this scripture. (Let’s note: minister is being used as a verb in this scripture. Therefore it is defined as sharing, giving aid or service.) This service is one that I believe was being applauded, but we also see the continued encouragement of this service. The Jews are told, “do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
As this week passed by, and as I watched the memorials of Rev. C. T. Vivian and John Lewis, I could not help but cherish their good works. Those men worked faithfully in their serving others. Seeing the tributes brought to my mind people who came before me; people like my dad, who also did the good work of serving others. The serving of others is a calling to all of those who have, in their hearts, genuinely believed in Jesus Christ.
Called To Serve
There are some who believe that they really only have to be of service to God. However, their idea of what serving God means is incomplete. Some believe their serving of God is done so solely by their attending of a worship service or Bible study. Psalm 100:2 certainly does say to us, “serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.”
Some of us, however, start believing we are serving a need of God by our attendance every Sunday. Let’s get something straight: God does not need anything from us; He does not need us to wait hand or foot on Him! We worship the Lord today because we are moved to worship and praise Him in our spirit.
In the gospel of John, Jesus is asked about serving and doing the works of God (John 6:28). Jesus responded that we serve and do the works of God by believing in Him whom God sent (John 6:29). (The Him that God sent was His only begotten Son – Jesus Christ.) Again, we must understand what it means to believe and have faith.
What it means to have faith in Christ
We must remember this about believing (or having faith): it certainly should be done in spirit and truth. However, faith is also shown through our works (James 2:22). John would later write that we should not simply love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). If believing in Christ was simply our presence at worship, why would Jesus commission us? We are commissioned to go out into the world, to all nations, and minister (share or serve) the gospel (Matt. 28:19-20)?
What I want you to understand is that the service that God requires of us is a service to one another! It is certainly a good thing to believe in God and attend worship, but our service is more than that. We are called into the highest of services which is to serve each other! You and I should always seek out how we can help somebody – to edify and lift someone up!
How We Serve Others
The subject of serving others is one that I have talked about on several occasions. It is a subject that means a great deal to me, and the reason why that is the case is because of all of those that came before me. I come from a stock of people, on both parents side, that taught being there for others and helping. Love was something that was taught on both sides!
I feel what I was taught when I was little, was not something that was uncommon back then. When I went to preschool and elementary school, we were taught to care about each other and to help one another. We learned about what those who had come before us had done in caring for others and trying to help others. We learned about the works of men like John Lewis and Dr. King, and women like Harriet Tubman and Mary McLeod Bethune.
As I watched the memorials, the tributes, and watched people speak about Rev. C. T. Vivian and John Lewis, I have to say I did become a bit bothered at times. I was bothered by the fact that every now and then, someone would mention these men’s religion as their motivation to help others. (That word is a word that bothers me.) I say to you that those who came before me, did not serve others because of “their religion”. They served others out of the genuine faith that was in their hearts.
Serving out of gladness
I say that because there is a difference between doing something out of religion and faith. You see, there are people who do things out of their religion but they don’t really care. Whereas, when you do something because of your genuine faith, you are doing it genuinely (truthfully). We should not serve others solely because the Bible said so, but because we are genuinely moved in our spirit to do so!
Thinking back on Psalm 100:2: we are called to serve the Lord with gladness. Yes, that text was talking about being glad to worship the Lord, but I believe we can tie that scripture into our message today. I say this because we now also know that we serve God by being of service to each other. So, we should serve each other with gladness as well because when we serve each other, we are serving God (Matt. 25:32-40). We should treat each other in the same manner that God treats us.
What service should we provide
God loves us and is patient towards us so we should be the same way towards one another (1 John 4:20-21). The question that I am often asked is this: What can I do to be of service to someone? Many of us think, for whatever reason, that there’s nothing that we can do for somebody. We will say, “I’m not a minister” or “I’m not a deacon or a mother.” Many of us will say this believing that God has only called those serving in those roles to be of service to others.
On this thought, Peter wrote that as each one has received a gift, minister it to one another (1 Pet. 4:10). Each one meaning all of those who genuinely believe in the Lord. We received our gift in the same manner in which Peter received his gift: through God’s grace. Paul wrote that we all have all received different gifts that we received through God’s grace (Rom. 12:6-8). In that scripture, you will see that Paul spoke about how some had been given the gifts of prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and being merciful (forgiving).
Ministering today with our gifts
Do you believe that the Lord blesses us with our gifts for us to simply sit on them and not share them with somebody? Absolutely not! I always say this about the gifts that Paul mentioned: those are a limited list of gifts that God has put into our world. Let’s consider a few gifts for just a short moment.
I see many people nowadays who have a ministry of encouraging others; some do it to encourage others to exercise and be healthy. We may not think much of it, but that is a ministry of encouragement. I would tell anybody that it truly is a blessed gift to be able to encourage others. If you are capable of encouraging others in good things, whatever that encouragement might be, serve others with that gift. We are living in a time of depression where so many people could use that gift of encouragement.
There are many people who do not realize that they have been blessed with a gift of making others feel better about themselves. For example: those who cut hair or know how to dress up someone’s hair. There are also people who are capable of making masks, jewelry, or have an eye for fashion. Once before when I preached on this subject, I used my brother, an artist that can illustrate anything, as an example of gift giving from God.
The Benefit of Serving Others
Never think lightly of the gift that God has given to you. I truly believe that all of us can do the good work of God by serving others. In the gospel of Matthew (Matt. 5:16), Jesus says to us that we should “let our light shine so that others can see our good works, they will also glorify God.” When we use our gift to serve others, they too can join in in the glorifying of the One who gave us that gift!
When we are doing the good work of serving others in righteousness, and in God’s name, we have the ability to lift someone up! If we are able to lift up one person that can lead to an entire community being lifted. When an entire community is able to be lifted up, an entire state is able to be lifted up. If an entire state can be lifted up, then an entire nation can be lifted! When an entire nation can be lifted up, the glory of God can spread all over this world! All of this can happen through our serving of others through our genuine faith. Like those men changed the world for better, we have the ability to do the same by using our gift.
The heavenly reward
The writer of Hebrews tells us that there is a promise that we who do the good work of God will inherit. There is a heavenly promise that awaits all of those who genuinely have faith in Christ. Yet, I want to leave you with this: Jesus also tells us that those who do the good work of God will be openly rewarded (Matt. 6:4). In the gospel of Luke (Luke 14:13-14), Jesus said, “for you shall be repaid (for what you have done for others) at the resurrection of the just.”
We should be compelled in our spirit to be of service to someone. Those who came before us and did the good work, did their work from the faith that was in their heart. We have an obligation to carry forward the work that those who came before us did. Yes, we are living in some very trying times, but let us stay the course in this race of faith. As the writer of Hebrews wrote, let us not become sluggish on this course because there is someone out there who is dependent on the gift you bring to the table.