How Do You Spell “Service”?

by Chuck Durham

Some people spell “Service” as “Serve Us.” We forget our real purpose in life—to be disciples of Jesus Christ. The disciple’s heart is to live, eat, drink, and breathe “Jesus.” He told us: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). It is at once simple to comprehend, but profoundly difficult to perform.

“Can you spend the night sitting with brother ‘X’ at the hospital?” Easy to comprehend, but what’s our first “gut” reaction?

  • “Man, I don’t have time to do this. I’m too busy.”
  • “I’ve got to go to work tomorrow. If I sit up with this brother (with little or no sleep), then I won’t be worth a plug nickel for my job tomorrow.”
  • “I’m uncomfortable doing this kind of thing. I’ve never liked hospitals and being around sick people. What if they get sick on me? I don’t want to wipe their forehead or clean up after them. That’s just, ‘Yuck.’”

Now be honest. Have you ever thought this at the moment you’re asked to serve? I have. And it’s just plain selfish. I’m not thinking about being like Jesus, I’m thinking about what’s best for me. I’m not thinking of what’s in the best interest of my brother. I’m more important than this kind of work. Let someone else do it.

A disciple asks one question: “What would Jesus do?” A true disciple will do whatever that answer says. Did Jesus say, “I don’t have time to give my life a ransom for many”? Did He say, “I’m too important for such lowly, degrading work; let someone else do it”?

What truly disgusts me about me is that my Master is so selfless while I am so selfish. He constantly thinks of others; I struggle even to think about them. He constantly comes to their aid; I’m really put out if I have to do something for them. Invite me to a ballgame and I’m ready at a moment’s notice! I say I want to be like Jesus, but far too often I am utterly unlike His ideal of love and service for others.

Most of us spell the word “Service” as “Serve Us.” It should scare us to death at how selfish we truly are. Judgment Day concerns this very factor: “Did we go out of our way to help and serve others?” Listen well—our life depends on it:

“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:41-46)

There is a further thought here. Why wait to serve until we are asked to serve? Being proactive can fight off our tendency to be selfish. If we hear of a need, why not be first to volunteer before we are asked to do so? Paul wrote of Epaphroditus:

Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me. (Phil 2:29-30)

Epaphroditus knew how to spell the word “Service.” The question is, “Do we?”

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