Serving other people doesn’t usually win you any awards, but it is the way of Jesus Christ and his followers.

Serving people as unto Christ is an essential spiritual discipline and act of love. Service focuses us outward. It causes us to rely on God’s grace and power to flow through us. It meets the needs of other people. It demonstrates the  love of Christ.

Jesus’ Example of Service

Have you ever thought about how Jesus lived his life on earth? What kind of life did the King of kings and Son of God live when he came to earth?  Jesus lived a life of service to others. Think about his lifestyle of humility and kindness:

Jesus worked in obscurity as a blue-collar worker for most of his life.  He repaired broken chairs.  He fixed breakfast.  He washed feet.  He touched lepers.  He healed sick people.  He brought food to the hungry.  He played with children.  He listened to the broken-hearted.  He went to parties with social outcasts.  He invited the poor into the Kingdom of Heaven.  He ministered to people who interrupted him.  Day after day for three years he quietly taught a few uneducated men and women in how to be his apprentices in godly living.  He loved his enemies, blessed those who cursed him, and prayed for those who abused and crucified him.

Jesus’ Teachings on Service

Jesus taught his followers that just as he, their Lord and teacher did not come to be served but to serve, so they should serve others and that if they did they would be blessed (Matthew 20:26-28, John 13-13-17).  Jesus kept coming back to this message again and again and in many ways:

Do your good deeds in secret…

Whoever wants to be great must become the servant…

The first shall be last and the last shall be first…

Blessed are the merciful…

Give and it shall be given unto you…

It’s more blessed to give than to receive…

Give a cup of cold water…

Feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit those in prison…

Invite to your home for dinner the poor, crippled, and blind who can’t repay you…

Wash one another’s feet…

Welcome little children…

Love your enemies…

Bless those who insult you…

Pray for those who persecute you…

Give away your coat…

Go the extra mile…

As you do unto the least of these so you’ve done unto me.

“The Little Way”

Renovare’s Life with God Bible defines the spiritual discipline of service as, “loving, thoughtful, active promotion of the good of others and the causes of God in our world, through which we experience the many little deaths of going beyond ourselves” (p. 2309).

Richard Foster offered Therese of Lisieux as a wonderful example of serving others in the way of Christ.  In her short life (she lived from 1873 to 1897) she learned a lifestyle of praying while offering simple, humble service to others for Christ’s sake:

This “Little Way”, as she called it, is deceptively simple.  It is in short, to seek out the menial job, to welcome unjust criticism, to befriend those who annoy us, to help those who are ungrateful.  For her part, Therese was convinced that these “trifles” pleased Jesus more than the great deeds of recognized holiness.

The beauty of the Little Way is how utterly available it is to everyone.  From the child to the adult, from the sophisticated to the simple, from the most powerful to the least influential, all can undertake this ministry of small things.  The opportunities to live in this way come to us constantly, while the great fidelities happen only now and again.  Almost daily we can give smiling service to nagging co-workers, listen attentively to silly bores, express little kindnesses without making a fuss (Prayer, p. 62).

The blessing of quietly serving others in simple ways is to join with Jesus and enjoy our Father’s reward (Matthew 6:1).