The Voice of Zion April 2023 --
We cannot serve God directly with our actions. Only by our faith can we show love to God and serve Him. God’s Word tells us that to serve Him, we must serve others here on earth. Put simply, in God’s stead, we are to serve our neighbors (Gal. 5:13,14).
Many times we have heard testimony from those that have served others that in serving, they found that they were served. They gained much more than they gave. The return on investment was great. Serving others is a concrete manifestation of the love we are called to show to our neighbors. Serving fosters joy, and when we serve others in love, the joy is increased manyfold. Congregations may pray for the mutual mind to increase opportunities for all to serve.
Serving is ministering, or administering, to people’s needs, to their physical and spiritual needs. This happens in many ways in God’s kingdom. It can be formalized as diaconal work on a committee level within a congregation. It can happen in larger gatherings, and it can happen on an individual level.
There are many ways we can share of our time and our service to those in need. We can help others in their everyday lives. We can do chores or labor for those who are unable. We can sit alongside and listen to those who mourn or otherwise suffer. We can encourage our fellow travelers in their walk of faith. We can pray for near ones and even those we don’t know. And we can forgive another’s sins.
God has given each of us gifts, many kinds of gifts. And yet He adds to them in this way: He can show us many ways to use the gifts He has given us to serve, to alleviate another’s burdens. even to alleviate our own burdens. The best way to use these gifts is to support others on the journey to heaven.
What do we gain from serving? We gain a sense of fulfillment for having found a way to show love and gratitude toward others, and ultimately to our heavenly Father. We all need ways to express our connection with God and with God’s kingdom, and serving in God’s kingdom is a direct way to express this. We serve because we also need to be served, and even in serving we are served. A God-given desire to serve does not stem from a desire to do good works, to increase our chance of salvation. Rather, the desire to do these works is a fruit of the spirit, which comes from owning faith in a clean conscience.
It is good in God’s kingdom to offer opportunities to all to serve others. Opportunities to serve open ways in our midst for many to feel a sense of belonging, to reduce loneliness and isolation, and to increase the sense of community and unity. All gifts are needed, and it is important that all, especially our youth, could see where their gifts fit, where there would be a use for what they have to offer. Of course we are free to serve as asked even if we cannot see that we would have gifts for that duty. Often others can help us notice our gifts.
Serving in God’s kingdom brings great blessings to us in this life, and serving can help strengthen our faith and thus help carry us to the life that is to come. May we hear on the threshold of heaven those words that Christ foretold, that we ministered to the hungry, thirsty, poor, weak and lonely (Matt. 25:35–45), not through our own merit but through the power of the Spirit. In heaven, all our needs will be met in blessed rest.