To Serve or Be Served

Thoughts Along the Way©

Elaine Mehn

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

Over our 22 years in Japan we have had a number of visitors. Some have come for just a meal and some have stayed overnight(s). Of this latter group some have slept in comfortable beds, some on the floor Japanese style and a few on couches or other less inviting places. It has been our pleasure and blessing to have each and every one. But of all of these, two stand out in my memory. Perhaps this is because their stays were close together so the contrast was more complete.

The first one was friendly and wanting to tell his/her story – how they came to know Christ, had been involved in ministry and came to Japan. It is always nice to hear how God is working especially in regards to Him calling people to Japan whether it is for a few days, weeks, months, years or a career. It is always His calling and His ways are fascinating to hear. The struggle for me was that the stories did not stop. I began to feel that I was not a necessary part of the conversation. The greater frustration for me was that this God led, God loving person had words of service but an attitude of being served. It was the attitude that screamed louder than the words. I was glad to have the visit and glad for it to be over as I found it very tiring.

The second one came soon after the first. I remember dreading it not because of the person involved but because I was still so wrung out from the first visit. I pasted my well used smile on my face and welcomingly greeted them into our home. What an opportunity for me to learn repentance. It wasn’t long before I was repenting of my attitude and thanking God for sending this dear saint to our home. This person shared their story but was equally interested in my story of God’s work. They wanted to do whatever I needed done not out of judgment or criticism but to be of help. Cleaning got done that I don’t find time for and don’t enjoy doing. When they left I was sorry to see them go as they had been a breath of fresh air into my stuffy heart.

The real question becomes what made the difference between a visit that left me tired and a visit that left me invigorated for ministry? I think it was the difference in attitude between one who wanted to be served and one who wanted to serve. The one wanted life to be about him/her and the other knew life was not about him/her but about Jesus. This was never said in words but it didn’t need to be. The love of Christ flowed to all of those around because their heart was focused on Him. This is the heart that I want to have – one that knows I am a sinner saved by grace, filled with the Holy Spirit and credited with Christ’s righteousness so I can humbly love God and others. Instead of desiring that people like me, I want to desire that people love Jesus. In my life this will take an act of God. The good great news is that God loves to work in our lives transforming us into the image of His Son.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for the many times that I have wanted to be served rather than to serve others. But even more forgive me for the heart attitude that screams that life should be about me and my comfort – I want to be the center of attention. Forgive me for wanting people to like me more than I want them to love You. Fill me afresh with the humble air from Your Spirit that others might feel that fresh air flowing into their lives as well.

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