“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." —1 Peter 4:8-11
Being a servant means putting the interests of others above your own. And, as the scripture says, do it with the "strength that God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ."
For many of us that come out an African-American construct, a past and an ancestry where there was slavery this can be a "hard pill to swallow" as a great ideal. Especially since in our history, even in the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era we were still in a service capacity. When the pendulum swung and our parents came of age, we went into this anti-service or anti-serving mindset. As it often happens socially, the pendulum swung all the way in the opposite direction.
So hearing the word "serve" does not always sit well. But, let me disarm you. We are all made to serve. That was God’s plan and intention for mankind. There have been many throughout the history of the world that have misused and abused this. But, we are made to serve each other and to put the interest of others above our own.
If you’ve been in Christian circles any length of time you have heard, "The way to find real JOY is Jesus first, others second and yourself last." However, we live in this meme culture where we read something quickly, sounds plausible, agrees with some place in my spirit and I click, “LIKE”. And, then if we’re really motivated we re-post it.
We see memes like:
Do what makes you happy
The problem with putting others first is you’ve taught them you come last
Never feel bad for putting yourself first
Sounds good. Sounds plausible. Agrees with a broken place in my spirit, so I'm going to press "LIKE". But, is that Biblical?
We can allow culture to fashion and dictate our belief system. When as believers we should be reading our Bibles and studying the life of Jesus to determine the right way to think and the right way to be. We want to develop the mind of Christ. Here's what the Bible says...
In everything, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Himself: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Just as the son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the last of all and the servant of all.”
A generous soul will prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
The greatest among you shall be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Are you feeling like you’re made to serve? Or are you still unsure?
But, seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteous and all of these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Here’s where we struggle.
But, I heard my pastor say, "Do what you do on the plane, adjust your safety mask before you help someone else."
And, I heard Iyanla say, "Your cup is suppose to run over, and people are others benefit from the overflow."
None of that is Biblical.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-6
We are made to serve.
Putting others second does not mean that you kill yourself or break your neck to serve others at the expense of yourself. Doing that is sin. You must serve out of the right heart posture.
If you do not know who you are or if you are person that struggles with feelings of being accepted or unworthy or feelings of being unprotected or unseen—you are not ready to serve or to put others needs above your own. Here's why... We can’t honor God in our services if our hearts declare He is a liar. We have to first understand that we are His and He accepts us.
But, when you know who you are…. When you can truly say, "I am accepted. I am worthy. I am redeemed." Then, it comes naturally to put others first.
Serving others from the wrong heart posture versus the right heart posture. The action may look the same, but the motivation is different.
When you don’t feel good enough… that can lead you into the type of service that is abuse. But, when you serve with a healthy heart, and a place of knowing who you are it is easy to serve without expecting anything in return.
Serving others… does this mean that you do not have self care? NO! Does this mean that you do not go to the spa and on trips and do the things that make you happy? NO! Girl, you must do those things for yourself. Take care of yourself.
Putting yourself last does not mean that you are the least important. It means you are very important in lining up with what God has asked you to do. And, you will get the increase. Treat yourself. Spend time with yourself. Do not let life pass you by. Do the thing you always wanted to do. Never neglect yourself.
If you’re a person like me and like many women who serve a lot of people—make sure that you take the time to do things that bring you happiness, peace of mind, and restores your sanity. Do not forsake your prayer life or your devotional time.
Find ways to do what you love whether that's your favorite show, going to get your nails done, having a facial, checking in to a hotel for a weekend, taking a trip, or going out to dinner. Whatever it is you need to—DO IT!
The more you give. The more comes back to you. The more generous you are with your time, talent and treasure—the more you get back. What trips us up a lot of times, is that we want things to come back to us from the same source—and they almost NEVER do.
I want you to practice doing this, like the Bible says, expecting nothing in return. You will notice that it will come back to you good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
Live generously. I promise you—you will have JOY! We are made to serve. And if we do it from the right heart position, others will be blessed and we will receive the greatness that God has to offer.
One of my favorite songwriters wrote these words, "For we may never know all of the people that we have touch. For we may never know all of the lives that we have reached. But, we know YOU know Lord… for a record you do keep and when the end does finally begin, we will receive a great reward for what we’ve done."