“Papa, why are you so good at doing things, like folding laundry without complaining?”
I was watching a movie while folding and putting away laundry when my son asked me this question. Caught a bit by surprise, I answered that there are probably things I do complain about, but that it’s not really that big of a deal to put away laundry, because it has to be done anyway. Plus, if I not only put away my laundry but also my wife’s, I will have blessed her and she’d be happy. He pondered the seemingly novel idea of doing something to make someone else happy, and left.
After this brief conversation, my thoughts were drawn to the topic of service. Why do we do things for the benefit of others? Here are a few reasons.
We serve out of necessity. Some things just need to get done. Laundry, dishes, trash. Serving each other means we see needs and we fill them, whether at home in our families, at church, or at work. Seeing needs and wanting to meet them in these areas comes fairly easy to me, but this also applies to needs among friends, neighbors, or anyone else in our sphere of influence. Wisdom would dictate the degree of help we offer, so let’s be wise but eager.
We serve out of love. If I love my wife, I will want to do things for her. This principle stretches to other people or even things. We serve that which we love the most, whether it be ourselves, our stuff, or others. The love our new hearts are now capable of, the love given us by God, expands our natural love for self, so that (among other things) we may also expand our service from self to others. Or, more accurately perhaps, our focus changes in that the object of our loving service shifts from self to others.
We serve because we have been served. Christians don’t start with themselves; that is, we don’t exist in a vacuum but are part of something greater. Who we are began with what God did, and thus everything we do is a response aimed to imitate our God who set the example. God serves his people, not out of necessity (he isn’t bound or ruled by anything), but by choice. His ultimate act of service he demonstrated at the cross, the perfect life we should have lived culminating in the death we deserved, so that he may bring us to him (2 Peter 3:18).
We serve for joy. So far I’ve focused on reasons outside of ourselves that may compel us to serve, but rarely do we serve for no personal benefit. When asked, most Christians would probably say that they receive much joy from serving others. This is normal for the Christian and mirrors the attitude of our Savior, “who, for the joy that was set before him endured to cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Christian, do not feel guilty for getting joy from your service! As the Westminster Shorter Catechism says, our “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” We were created for joy!
How can we apply this? Especially on Easter Sunday, let us remember how Jesus served us in his death. This is the foundation for who we are and who we will be into all eternity. With that in mind, let us serve one another gladly, joyfully, and eagerly.