Christian Service (Spiritual Discipline #5)

Sloth and pride inhabit service to God. Sometimes as Christians, we serve as a natural outflow of our love for God. But unless we discipline ourselves to serve, we will serve when it’s convenient. We must discipline ourselves for service because God expects his people to serve him. In addition, as Christians, we have six motives for serving God.

6 Motives for Christian Service

  1. Obedience: We serve God because we want to obey him.
  2. Gratitude: We serve God because we are grateful for what God has done through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
  3. Gladness: We serve God because we are joyful to receive this privilege.
  4. Forgiveness: We serve God not to be forgiven but because we are forgiven.
  5. Humility: We serve God without the need for man’s recognition because we imitate the humility of Christ.
  6. Love: We serve God because we love God.

Spiritual Gifts for Christian Service

God gifts all Christians the capacity to serve. New Testaments passages that teach about spiritual gifts include the following:

  • Romans 12:4-8
  • 1 Corinthians 12:5-11, 27-31
  • 1 Corinthians 14
  • Ephesians 4:7-13

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10–11 ESV)

In 1 Peter, we learn three important truths.

  1. All Christians have been given at least one spiritual gift.
  2. Spiritual gifts are given by God for service to one another.
  3. The purpose of all Christian service is for God’s glory.

The best way to identify your spiritual gifts is to serve. As you serve, you will confirm what you are gifted in and what you are not. Don’t just look to serve in the spotlight. Some of the most important opportunity for service is in the unseen background.

Hard Work of Christian Service

Even if you are serving in an ongoing ministry in which you are gifted, the service is not always easy. Christian service is hard work. Paul describes his service to God as toil.

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:29 ESV)

Toiling in Christian service need not cause misery. As previously stated, Christian service should be motivated by gladness and joy. But the work of Christian service is often hard. Christian service requires time, energy, and sacrifice. And because we are serving sinful people, it can be painful.

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34 ESV)

Jesus viewed his work of service as his food. He saw his life of service as fulfilling, rewarding, and satisfying. The reason is that Christian service has eternal value. Our labor for God is never in vain.

Gospel’s Power in Christian Service

The gospel of Christ changes us. We were once God’s enemies. Now, we have become God’s servants.

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, (1 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV)

God gives us a new identity as his servants. He gives us the power and enablement to serve. Through Christ, God gives us the model and motivation for Christian service. So let’s serve with all our energy, knowing that although the work may be difficult, it is not in vain.

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