Serve

SERVE modified

 

Serve-to assist or to help. I have always struggled with the Martha and Mary story in Luke 10:38-42.  As the story goes, Jesus entered Bethany (the hometown of Lazarus who was also the brother of Martha and Mary), and immediately the characters in this short story are introduced, “Martha welcomed Him into her house, and she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.”  (Luke 10:38, 39).  I am sure Martha had noble intentions.  She wanted to host Jesus in her home.  After all, as woman we are to be hospitable. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (I Peter 4:9, 10).  However, her noble intentions felt like shackles when she saw her sister sitting at Jesus’ feet apparently doing nothing.  “But Martha was distracted with much serving…” (Luke 10:40). At that moment in Martha’s mind, listening to the teaching of Jesus was not a noble endeavor.  After all, there were guests in their home and these guests would need food to eat and possibly a place to stay for the night.  There was no Pizza Hut to order delivery and the beds did not get freshened and ready by themselves. So Martha began to feel bitter over her eagerness to serve Jesus and the disciples that were accompanying Him with food and lodging.  Her priorities were misaligned.

 

Whenever I read this story, I so clearly identify with Martha.  I am a task person.  I also enjoy entertaining, but of course, when I have people for dinner, I want it to be just perfect for them.  If Jesus and His disciples came to my house, I would want the experience to be perfect.  The perfect meal with the perfect dessert.  Then when they are ready to retire for the night, I would want a fresh bed with a nice soft pillow for them to lay their head.

 

Serving is not about the perfect meal with the most delicious dessert.  There are not too many times I have visited someone’s home that I remember the meal.  However, what I do remember is the attitude in the service.  When someone comes to my home, I never want them to feel like an inconvenience but rather I want them to feel like a treasure.  Whenever I serve whether at church, home, or in the community, my service needs to be from a heart of love not a heart filled with guilt.  I have considered this carefully and realize that in essence, when I serve out of guilt, I am trying to earn my salvation or more favor with God or man.  I am already saved and need to do nothing to earn any more favor with God.  A heart that serves out of guilt or out of a desire to gain more favor with God or man is a sin.  However, when my heart is right before the Lord and I am His vessel, then my life will be a channel for His love lived out through acts of service.

 

The key to being a Mary (sitting at the feet of Jesus) in our busy world (Martha) is to begin each day filling our hearts with love from God. Martha was anxious about the wrong things according to Jesus’ chastisement of her, but “one this is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42).  “One thing is necessary” according to Jesus.  What is it? Sitting at Jesus’ feet listening and learning. Mary did this first.  Before we become encumbered with too much serving, we must sit at the feet of Jesus and listen and learn.  Then when it is time to serve, there will be joy in our hearts.  It is so much more fun to serve with others than to do it by ourselves.  Instead of being the hero and serving on our own we must elicit some help and serve in the joy of the Lord.  The blessing will be multiplied.

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Sacrifice

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Sacrifice-the act of giving something up for the good of someone else.  What is given up usually costs the giver…up to their life.  There are not enough words to write all of the stories of people who have sacrificed for the betterment of their fellow mankind.  Millions have died in battle saving their fellow soldier, a city full of women and children, or their country.  People sacrifice their time, treasure, and talent to accomplish great things for the betterment of their fellow mankind.  With the thousands upon millions of stories of sacrifice that we find on the printed page, it still is difficult for many to sacrifice any of these things.

 

We are raising a Leader Dog Puppy for the Blind.  When she is about a year we turn her in and she receives more training and will hopefully do well enough to be a guide dog for a blind person.  I am amazed by all of the comments I receive from people when I take her out and work with her in public.  So many say, “I could never give them back.”  It is a very difficult thing to turn them in since we have done it once all ready, but the person we will help is definitely worth the sacrifice.

 

We find the ultimate sacrifice in Scripture when Christ willingly submitted to the torture and pain of death on a Roman cross for my sins.  “Have the same mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…but emptied Himself, by taking on the form of a servant…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8).  He willingly sacrificed His life to pay the penalty for my sins, yet so many times I do not appreciate His sacrifice for me.  So many times I elevate my needs above another.  I am selfish and want my way.  I live in fear of the “what ifs.” I think I deserve to be happy at the expense of another person’s happiness.  I do not appreciate what others have done for me.

 

Sacrifice in a relationship with anyone whether a spouse, a child, a friend, etc. is much sweeter when both willingly sacrifice for each other and appreciate the sacrifice that is made.  If we all lived with the mind of Christ as we are challenged to do in Philippians, there would be less divorce, less angry words spoken, less tears of hurt, less children abandoned, less violence, and less fear.  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1).  When we willingly sacrifice, we are worshipping God.  Let’s worship God together by willingly sacrificing for our Lord, and in the process those around us will receive a blessing too.