“For the word of God will never fail.”
–Luke 1:37 (NLT)
Let me tell you about a friend of mine, who always seems to be searching for ways to serve others. For instance, he befriended a homeless man recently. He often gives this man work to do, and a place to sleep. On holidays, my friend generously invites him over to his house.
Now, I ask you to compare the above story with the following quote:
“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.” (Thomas S. Monson)
The short paragraph about my friend is a beacon which speaks to me of service, but I grow more and more disturbed when I think about the quote beneath my paragraph. Unlike my friend’s brand of service, Thomas’s quote seems to be limited to December 25. It alludes to what I call seasonal service.
While helping people on Christmas is great, seasonal service only happens once a year. It can be as artificial as the tinsel that hangs on my Christmas tree, and it is usually done for show.
For example, let’s take Christmas caroling for the elderly. This might appear to be something meritorious, but if people only visit homes for the aged once a year, have they really helped out the residents in the long run? While they might give the elderly something to smile about for an hour or so, I don’t see that Jesus’ entreaty to visit others was limited to a season or a day.
While caroling is better than nothing, and I realize that we all have busy schedules, we still need to aim for the kind of service which Jesus spoke about. Since all of us seem to find the time to do the things that we really want to do, as one person told me a long time ago, we need to ask God to change our wants. Also, we need to study the life of the master servant, who said that His desire was to do the will of His Father. So I would like to take a journey with you, as we examine this more fully.
First of all, Jesus’ service pointed others to God, and away from themselves. Remember when He was at the well, and He spoke to the woman there? He didn’t let His physical state keep Him from pointing her to the true worship of God. Like I said above, I feel that much of seasonal service is done for show, which only points people to yourself and your own deeds.
To see a myriad of other examples about the way in which Jesus ministered, you only have to skim the gospels further, but I would like to share one more thing about this story.Jesus’ service at the well also shows me that aside from not giving in to His flesh in this way, Jesus did not set apart one special time or season to serve. Instead, He always looked for opportunities to serve, and He did not let His feelings dictate His actions.
Another example of Jesus’ service is found in chapter 6, verses 31-34 of Mark’s gospel. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, so many people were coming to see Him that He and His disciples did not even have a chance to eat. So Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
The group went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them, and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
I see from the text that unlike me, in His service, Jesus showed an endurance that we really can’t comprehend. We may read what He said about going the extra mile, but we find that actually doing this is often inconvenient, to put it mildly.
While some people might raise holy hackles at this admission and pretend to be pious, you know deep down that our faith says one thing, but our bodily appitites say something quite different. We want to go home and relax after a hard day’s work, but we also know that help is needed at that bake sale down the street.
“What should I do?” you ask yourself. Then, if you are like most of us, you rationalize in a way that sounds like this: “Oh, someone else will be there to help.” Or, “I won’t be any good to anybody tomorrow, if I don’t go home and get some rest tonight.” This is the underlying dilemma that all of us in the human race are saddled with.
Fortunately, however, the story is only beginning. Paul offers this solution in Romans chapter 8. This chapter speaks of the freedom we have in Christ, a freedom which we can all find. He shows us how God can help us overcome the negative appitites that He once struggled with as well. These negative attitudes fight against service, and they could have led Paul down a very different path if he had allowed them to control him.
The good news for you and me is that we don’t have to continually allow them to control us either. Instead, when we fall under their control, we must remember that there is no condemnation in Christ. Because of this, we can pick ourselves up again and move forward, avoiding some of the pitfalls which Paul faced.
By walking in God’s Spirit, or yielding to God in prayer and asking His Spirit to fill, empower and control our lives, we can live on a higher plane.
I believe that God is challenging all of us to exchange the seasonal for the steadfast, as we go into our own corners of the world. I further believe that in doing so, lives will be changed as we lift up the name of Christ together.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
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