Ever so gently she stepped into our family room, two glasses of ice water precariously sloshing in her wee little hands. Eyes wide, I stared as three-year-old Rachel delivered her precious cargo and scurried away. Curiosity and wisdom encouraged me to follow her into the kitchen. I peeked around the corner, spying her in all her toddler glory, scrambling from the chair she had evidently pushed into the kitchen onto the counter to retrieve another cup. Not a sippy cup, but a tall, glass tumbler.
“What are you doing?” I asked, trying not to panic.
“I’m getting drinks,” she answered confidently.
“Because I’m thirsty.”
“If you are thirsty, why are you bringing everyone a drink?”
She shrugged and continued her quest to make sure everyone had a fresh drink in their hands.
Our family occasionally thinks back on those younger years and gently teases Rachel, our young hostess. Recently I asked her if she could remember why she risked life and limb to serve us beverages. After thinking for a moment she said, “I wanted to take care of you and make you feel loved.” As a mom, I wanted to crush her to my chest, hug her, and love on her; but she is 16, and that would be, in her words, “extra.”
Rachel’s desire to love by serving was born out of a natural relationship with her family. We love and care for her, and in turn she wants to show her love by caring for us. In God’s family one of the reasons we care for others is that we realize God did us a great service when He sent Jesus to die in our place. How could we do anything else, since He has offered us redemption from the consequences of our sins through the death and resurrection of his Son? In Romans 5:8 we read, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This amazing act of selfless love then inspires devotion and love in those who receive it. 1 John 4:19 says it this way: “We love because he first loved us.”
While toddler Rachel went to great lengths to bring us all a cold glass of water, she did not go about it in the best way. She could have dropped the glass and cut herself, or possibly fallen and broken a bone, or even worse. Like an unskilled toddler, Christians can put ourselves into some dangerous spiritual territory. Scripture is clear that it is possible to serve in an ungodly manner. Here are a few examples from God’s Word:
- Serving to be seen by others. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1
- Serving to cause others to like you. “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
- Serving to get something in return. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” Luke 6:35
I am thankful that God is patient with us, and with great mercy He lets us work out our Christian faith without fear of punishment (Romans 8:1). Out of love He corrects us and encourages us to keep growing and learning (Hebrews 12:6).
If you find yourself serving to attain acceptance, the praises of men, or reimbursement, won’t you confess this today, and ask God to help you serve with a Christ-like heart?