Week 2 | JOY in Serving

Admit it. We’ve all heard the saying in church before. “Be a servant to others. Be a servant to Christ.” Because of the negative connotation in society of the word servant, we view a servant as being a bad thing. We think we are better than being a lowly attendant. We view it as being a punishment, a chore, something that we are required to do, or should do, but don’t necessarily want to do. 

We cringe at the thought of doing something for someone other than ourselves. It is our survival-of-the-fittest nature. However this doesn’t mean that we cringe all of the time. When it is convenient for us, we claim that service to others is a “life changing experience,” or that “there is no other way we would want to spend our day.” But this is when we want to serve others, this is when we can glorify ourselves in the process, this a time that makes us “feel good.” But when our mom asks us to help do the dishes, we are like “no way! My favorite TV show is on!” And when she comes in the living room and turns the TV off, we sulk our way into the kitchen and proceed to scrub the dishes and place them in the dishwasher, us having a foul facial expression while we smell the pungent odor of leftover tuna that our dad had for lunch. (I’m definitely not speaking from experience though…)

But God doesn't call us to be a halfway servant, or to serve based on fleeting emotions. God calls us to have a fully committed servants heart all while bringing glory to Him. Nevertheless, this is a lot easier to say than to carry out in our actions and thoughts, but one thing to keep in mind is that having a servant’s heart does not start with serving more. It does not mean that we go out and sign up for every volunteer opportunity to prove that we enjoy serving, running ourselves ragged in the process and disliking serving more than we did before. We don’t have to prove anything because when we accept Christ into our lives, we have already received his unfailing and merciful grace. 

Having a servant’s heart starts with simply changing how we view serving.

In Philippians, Paul is writing to the church of Philippi from prison, but he writes of having JOY for being in chains for Christ. 

As a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard that I am in chains for Christ.
— Philippians 1:13

wait what. 

How can Paul have a joyous servants heart while in prison? How on earth is being under house arrest a joyful occurrence? I know that if I was in Paul’s position, I would be struggling to remain in joyful hope. Honestly, I would be thinking, “You mean THIS is what I get for serving churches? This is not what I signed up for. This is not what I was expecting.” 

But Paul doesn’t look at serving as something that he is doing for himself. He doesn’t serve to bring glory to himself and go down in history as one of the greatest missionaries of all time. Paul looks at serving as something that Christ is doing through him. He is simply serving that in which he lives in, and what he lives in (Christ) brings him joy and content in any circumstance. Paul is joyous because even though he is in chains the gospel is still advancing. 

When he is serving in suffering, he lives in Christ, and when he is serving in comfort, he is serving Christ. Paul isn’t just serving for good, he is serving for God. Paul is serving to glorify Christ, and when we serve to glorify Christ and to become more like Him, God’s joy overflows in us and seeps in our actions. Paul is content. 

 We no longer look at serving as a negative thing. We don’t look at it as a chore or a burdening responsibility. When we serve in Christ, a joy lens is placed on our outlook of what we do. Joy is inevitably contagious. When we serve with joy, it effects those that we are serving, and when those we serve become joyous, the joy is returned to us because God’s love and joy has overflowed in us and spread not only to our actions, but it has spread to those around us as well. 

Think about it…the spreading of God’s love and grace. Now, isn’t that something to be joyous about? It’s definitely how Paul viewed serving God. Even though he was in jail, the church in Philippi was still worshipping and serving God; therefore, Paul felt abounding JOY

It’s almost like a parent-child relationship. More often than not, parents place their child’s needs before their own. They take deliberate actions to serve their children and do things to make their children happy. Sure, it gets frustrating when kids are not appreciative, but ultimately a parent does what they do because of their genuine love for their children. It is the same reason that Jesus served joyously the very same people that crucified him: his deep, unfailing love. 

It is the same reason that, when we serve others while living within Christ, he fills us with His joy and love for others. We are called to put others before ourselves, having our relationship with others mimic that of our relationship with Christ, but when we are serving Him, serving others is no longer a burden. It isn’t even an action; it is a joyful mindset. 

Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:2-4

Joy in serving doesn’t mean that you always see progress and it doesn’t mean you receive self-glorification. It also doesn’t mean you serve grudgingly just to say you served. Joy in serving comes from a recognition that you live within the greatest Good and that you serve Him. In recognizing that, your heart and mind inherits a joyful lens when serving others.  

Gavin and I had the chance to help at a local fall festival the other day by being in charge of a game table. It definitely wasn't what we expected, and Gavin was tired, having just finished the three hour drive. We were still excited to be able to help out, and it was a good thing we were because when we got there those kids were FULL of energy. It was a blast, and the time spent there flew by. You could feel the pure joy radiating from those children. Sometimes I feel that there is nothing more joyful than a child's laugh. Oh, God is so good, always!

Serving doesn't have to be something that seems spectacular to the world because it isn't about what the world thinks. It is about serving God and serving people where they are. When we focus on that, it is also where we will find the joy. 

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart, and give you a tender responsive heart.
— Ezekiel 26:26