I was at a Christian retreat recently, and the theme that we studied for the weekend was of service – how to love your neighbour. We spent the weekend studying two passages: the parable of the Good Samaritan and the parable of the sheep and the goats.
In light of these passages, we were talking about what can motivate us to serve and what can motivate us to love others – identifying with someone, understanding that they are children of God, etc. But I realized through these discussions that service is not only about helping others without expecting anything in return – but also about doing it in spite of and with sacrifice.
Let’s face it. It is very, very difficult to sacrifice something of yours to another and not expect anything return. Jesus did it, and we try to do it, but we are human and we are flawed and so we fail. I realized one of the reasons that many people (including me) find it hard to truly and genuinely be a servant is because we have a fear of lack. We fear that our needs won’t be met, that we’ll run out of what we have – just like the Israelites tried to store up their manna because they were scared of being hungry. Because of this fear, which can have many roots – comparison, envy, unfaithfulness, etc. – we just want more and more and more.
But in reality, it is incredibly difficult to serve when 1) you want more, and 2) you are not willing to have less. I know I am willing to serve when there is no great cost or when I expect something in return, but when the cost is time, money, my sense of security, I just can’t bring myself to do so. I see this on a small scale – when I am hesitant to buy some food for a homeless man God has called me to talk to – and on a bigger one – when I am reluctant to serve God in a way if it means I won’t make as much money or have more financial security.
My prayer for today is to remember verses like Psalm 34:9 (“Fear the LORD, you His holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing”) and Philippians 4:19 (“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus”). I want to fear God, to be secure in the security and safety He promises, and to stop fearing lack – so that I am less afraid to sacrifice just as my God sacrificed for me.