“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Galatians 5:13 (NLT)
When it comes to topic of service, I’m sort of like Jekyll and Hyde, the literary character(s) with dual personalities that alternate between good and evil behavior. But, I guess in my case, it’s more about good and evil intentions. Sometimes, my service is completely, 100% about my love for Jesus. I am so moved by His love for me and what He did on the cross that I can’t help but extend that love to others. But, if I’m honest, I would also have to admit that those moments of service are usually in the context of mission trips or purposeful service projects… often times preceded by intentional Bible study, praise and worship and moments of spiritual reflection… which, most definitely, are not common place in my everyday life.
Nope. The service in my everyday life looks a little like this: I try to have the living room clean and dinner ready before my husband gets home from work… only to have him not acknowledge my efforts, which then results in me ignoring him for the rest of the evening. Or how about this one: I put all my chores and responsibilities to the side so that I can spend some one-on-one time with my children, playing with them on the floor, coloring endless sheets of paper… only to have them tell me they wish I was more like “so-and-so’s mom” because she buys them whatever they want, which again results in my storming away, huffing under my breath something about ungrateful rugrats. I can give you endless examples with my mother, my friends… pretty much anyone I come in contact with. The one common thread, no matter the circumstances, is that my service usually has a price: I want something in return.
Sometimes, I want acknowledgment. Sometimes, I want praise. Sometimes, I want a returned favor. But, I also noticed recently that a lot of my service is out of obligation… it's about “fulfilling my responsibility.” It's about some ridiculous, self-imposed list I’ve formed in my mind about the words I must say and the things I must do in order for me to be a good Christian. Sometimes my focus can been so narrow and self-centered. I forget that my service is not only suppose to be an out flowing of my love for Jesus… it is to be an extension of His love for others.
Now, when I serve my family, I try to be mindful that Jesus is exemplified; that He is the reason. With that mindset, there really isn’t any room for selfish ambition or motivation. Sometimes, I literally have to stop myself and question my intentions. I have to pray that I think of myself less and love Him more. That’s the key to achieving the freedom referred to in Galatians 5:13. When our motivation is our love for Jesus, there is no obligation to serve; there is no expectation to receive. His love is enough.
Think about all the areas of service in your life (i.e. at home, at work, at church). Do you ever experience resentment when your service goes unnoticed? Do you ever find yourself serving out of obligation instead of love? Ask God to shed some light in these areas and spend time praying for his guidance. Find someone to serve... without the expectation of anything in return. Just think about Jesus and bring glory to HIS name.