(Matt 9:35; 25:37-40; Luke 22:25-27; Acts 9:36-41)
The measure of greatness and importance in God’s Kingdom is service and not status (Mat. 25:31-46; Acts 9:36-41). Our reputation may bring us approval before men but is our service, borne out of a pure and unselfish heart, that brings us approval before God. This is at variance with the world’s values where everyone seeks his/her own gain. Even the good deeds the world does do not spring out of a genuine heart, but out of a heart that looks out for the benefits that will accrue to it. The world measures greatness by the number of people serving the leader rather than the number of people the leader serves (Lk. 22:25-27). When we help the needy to bear their burdens, we are distributing eternal seeds, whose impact might go unnoticed now but will definitely bear fruits that will last till eternity.
The release of eternal seed is determined by the extent of service rendered unto men for the glory of God. This was modeled by Joseph when he was in the prison. He was not filled with self-pity because of his innocence, but with concern for the welfare of the other prisoners. His joy consisted in bringing smiles to the faces of others. And when he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief baker and cupbearer, he was at last remembered before Pharaoh, which marked the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise concerning his life.
The widow of Zarephath also rendered a service to Elijah which became a means of salvation for her family during the famine. When requested by Elijah to prepare some food out of the handful of flour she had left, she did. Of course, she would have declined the prophet’s request because she had a genuine reason, but she did not allow her legitimate needs to deprive her of being a blessing to the prophet. She distributed good seeds on a good ground by her service, and she did not recover from the impact of it (1 Kings 17:10-16).
The Shunammite woman ministered to Elisha from her substance. She provided accommodation and food to the prophet when he was wearied from his journey. She did all this because she was mostly concerned with his welfare, not because she had anticipated anything in return. However, this led to open doors for her as she bore a son.
Dorcas “was always doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36-41). She ministered to the widows in Jerusalem out of her own substance without anticipating any benefit from them. She demonstrated God’s love unto them such her through her deeds, they knew that God loved them and cared for them. When she died, her good deeds became a means by which she was brought back to life. “All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them” (Acts 9:39).
God notices every service we do for the sake of His kingdom, no matter how insignificant it may be in the eyes of men. He delights in such labour of love and He will not allow them to be afflicted. The Word of God holds true: “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble, the Lord delivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness, you restore him to full health” (Psalm 41:1-3).
Our service unto God would be rewarded, no matter how small it is. They are never forgotten but will be remembered on the Judgment Day. Jesus revealed that those who did service unto others — unto those who had no means with which they could pay them back — would be rewarded on that day. He would say to them, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…” “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:34-40). The service to the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, sick and those in the prison is an eternal seed sown whose fruits would be reaped both now and in God’s Kingdom.
As members of the body of Christ, our wholehearted service is needed for the edification of others (1 Cor. 12:26-28). Every grace and ability, however feeble, has been given us so that we can use it to serve others. Our service as Christians should not be motivated by man’s commendation but rather in the fulfillment of God’s will, knowing fully well that He has called us and He will reward us (Col. 3:23-24).
The Importance of Service or Releasing Eternal Seeds
- Service sets the stage for a man’s greatness (Mark 10:43-44). Jesus Christ took upon Himself the form of a servant. He humbled himself to such a point that God highly exalted Him and gave Him authority over all created things (Phil. 2:8-10). Service reveals to us who our neighbour is (Lk. 10:36-37). It opens our ears to the cries of the needy ones. “And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday. And the Lord shall guide you continually and satisfy you in drought and in dry places and make strong your bones. And you shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not” (Isa 58:10-11).
- It reveals our Christlikeness (John. 13:4). It points to the genuineness of our confessions and thus directs men to the service and worship of God.
- It shows our love for the Lord (John. 21:26).
- Service lightens and lifts life’s burden and bondage (Gal. 6:2,10). One of the noblest tasks we can do for mankind is to help carry their burdens.
Halfhearted Service and its Consequences
A service done halfheartedly is as unrewarding as a service not done at all. The true worth of our work is not realised when it is halfway. Being discouraged and giving up in the face of difficulty is a wasted venture. This was illustrated in the parable of the sower and the seed (Matt. 13:3-8). The consequences of halfhearted service are as follows:
- It brings weakness and smallness (1 Kings 10:30-32). Jehu’s commitment to God was not with a perfect heart. His commitment to God weakened when God raised him up because he wanted to secure for himself the throne, by committing the same sins Jeroboam did. Never allow anything to shift your devotion from the Lord.
- It hinders total or permanent victory (2 Kings 13:14-19).
- No matter how good the service may be, the end result is always bad (2 Chron. 20:32-33; 25:2)
- Any double-minded person cannot receive anything from God (James 1:6-8; 4:3).
The greatest joy is that no one can serve God and still be stranded in life (Matt. 6:33). Do we know what it is that we have to do? Then let us pursue it rigorously until it is completed. We must never allow our hearts to be cold towards the service we render unto men. If we do this, we shall never fail.