As a person who’s grown up in church, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing people serve in some capacity. You volunteer for the nursery. You donate time as an usher. Maybe you’re part of the prayer team or the clean-up crew. There are so many ways to give time in service to your local church and community. The opportunities are endless.
There are many verses in the bible that speak to serving.
“Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God.” –1 Peter 4:9-10
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters himself will be watered.” –Proverbs 19:17
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:10
We are told to serve without complaint, to please God, and to bring Him glory. My question to each of us serving is this:
Are we doing it to serve or to be seen?
Today’s society says ‘Look at me! Look at what I’m doing to help!’ Everything that we see on social media screams out how good we are, how kind we are, how much help we gave when we service others. But is that the kind of service God desires of us?
Please know that I’m not excluding myself from this question. I find myself often having to stop and question my motives. Am I doing this particular thing because God commands me to love, to help, and to assist, or am I doing it because it feels good to get the ‘attaboy and kudos for stepping up to the plate and serving someone or some way?
I also have to think about the way that I’m serving. Am I skipping out on the potentially thankless job of janitorial work at the church or the tiring job of rocking a crying baby in the nursery, instead opting for the fun and noticed roles? Am I choosing to snap an Instagram photo of me paying for a homeless man’s coffee instead of leaving an anonymous gift card for groceries for the family who’s mother just lost her job?
I’m not saying that those acts of service are not good. Nor am I saying that they’re wrong. What I’m asking us to examine is whether our motives are to really serve God or to be seen for our works.
I pray that my motives are never for the need to be seen. God tells us in Philippians 2:3-4, “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.”
I pray that as we serve, dear friends, it’s to serve God and not ourselves.