The Gifted: Service

This morning, we’re continuing our message series entitled ‘The Gifted’. So far, we’ve learned about what spiritual gifts are and why we receive them and why we should eagerly desire them. So far, we learned specifically about the trio of word gifts: prophecy, word of knowledge, and word of wisdom.
This week, we’re going to learn about a powerful, yet far more quiet spiritual gift: service.
After all, in the superhero world, where would most superheros be without their faithful sidekick?
Who would Batman be without Robin?
Who would Superman be without Jimmy Olsen?
Who would The Tick be without Arthur?
Who would Captain America be without Buckey Barnes?
Who would the Green Hornet be without Kato?
Who would Iron Man be without War Machine?
 
In the same way that these sidekicks faithfully served and assisted their superheros, so we are given the spiritual gift of service to be supernaturally strengthened by God to serve and assist others.  Let’s take a look in scripture at where we find this gift listed as a spiritual gift.
 
1 Peter 4:10-11
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Romans 12:6-7
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve;
Now depending on the version of the Bible that you are using, you may have found the word minister instead of the word serve.  That’s because the two are one and the same!
The Greek word used here is the word diakonia and what a diakonia does is to diakoneō.  As you might have guessed from the sound of the word, this is also the same word that we translate into our word deacon.
Translated, diakonia means one who serves and diakoneō means to serve.  Whether you are a deacon, a minister, or a servant – you are all one and the same – one called to serve others.
Now, we are all called to serve others.  However, this is a bit different than the spiritual gift of service.  We’re all called to serve each other using our own resources, abilities, and strength.  However, when we serve using the spiritual gift of service, we are able to serve using God’s resources, abilities, and strength.
 
People who possess and use this spiritual gift are frequently found asking the question, “What can I do to help?”.  They live by the motto, “See a need, meet a need.”.  They work hard to be the hands and feet of the body of Christ here on the earth.  They get easily frustrated and disappointed as they see the others in the body of Christ and wonder why they aren’t busy serving, too!
It’s this spiritual gift that keeps the body of Christ moving and manifesting the love of God in a real and practical way.  It’s this completely humbling spiritual gift of service that ultimately transforms and promotes someone into the greatest leaders within the kingdom of God.
Think about the beginnings of people like King David tending his sheep or Moses who served the entire nation of Israel bringing them out of their Egyptian bondage.  Think of Paul and the way that he lay down his entire life for the sake of the gospel and those who he might be able to save.  And then, of course, Jesus who could have easily demanded to be served, but instead came to serve every man and even gave His very life away.
As James and John’s mother requested that Jesus promote them, He said:
Matthew 20:25-28
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This “last will be first, first will be last” principle in the kingdom of God displays just how powerful and valuable of a gift that service truly is.  It is in direct contrast to the ways of this world.  In God’s kingdom, it’s not the bossiest and most strongly opinionated who is promoted, but it is rather the one who serves the most humbly and purely.
The spiritual gift of service is sort of self explanatory.  To receive this gift, you simply ask God to show you a way in which to serve and then ask Him to enable you to serve in that way.  It is truly as simple as that.
 
It could be anything from feeding and clothing the homeless, to working in a church ministry, to volunteering at a hospital or in a nursing home, to mowing the grass for your next door neighbor, to cooking a meal for someone, to giving a lost person directions, to helping carry groceries for someone, pushing their cart back to the carrel for them – the list can go on and on and on.  There are countless ways that this gift can be used, but no matter how it is put into practice, it always powerfully manifests the love of God to the person(s) receiving that service.
 
This spiritual gift is able to break down walls that separate people and mend relationships.  It is able to encourage and give hope to the hopeless.  It is able to humble even the most prideful of people.  It speaks the gospel of Jesus Christ louder and clearer than any gifted preacher ever could without using even a single word.
 
However, there is a danger and warning that I must give to those who possess this gift.  Don’t get too busy serving that you neglect your relationship with the giver of your gift.  This warning serves for all of the spiritual gifts, but it occurs most frequently with the spiritual gift of service.  It is easy to confuse serving others and serving the church with spending time with God.  However, confusing time spent serving and time spent at the feet of Jesus is a mistake that no one can afford to make.  Jesus made this as clear as black and white here:
 
Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
 
The Greek word used for the preparations that Martha was making is that same root word for the spiritual gift of service.  Martha had the spiritual gift of service and she was moving in it with excellence.  However, this spiritual gift was used against her as it caused her to be distracted from the one true thing that was needed.
 
I now know why the Lord took us on a bit of a detour from our series last week.  It was to serve as a warning to those who use this spiritual gift of service to not allow yourself to take on more burdens than the Lord intended and to grow weary and lose heart during your race for Him.
 
Don’t allow guilt or manipulation to deceive you into saying “Yes” when you should say “No”.  After all, we are called only to love others as we love ourselves (Romans 13:8, Matthew 22:37-40).  If we neglect to take care of our own needs and our own household to serve the needs of others, then we are failing just as much as one who only cares for their own needs and doesn’t serve others.  After all:
 
Psalm 127:1-2
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Remember to intentionally set apart time daily to spend with Jesus, just sitting at His feet.  Pray, read His word, worship Him, listen for His voice.  Allow Him to give you the rest and strength that you need to serve.  If you aren’t sure that God is leading you do serve, then wait until you have clear direction.  You want to be sure that the Lord is in the work that you do so that it is not all in vain!
There is a direct correlation between the time that we personally spend one on one with Jesus and our attendance at church, involvement at church, attitude while serving at church, and our attitude toward others.  If we aren’t taking the time to spend with Jesus, then we aren’t going to have clear direction from Him, we won’t have the resources that we need from Him, and we certainly won’t have His perspective toward life and others.
The bottom line is that our entire lives, and the lives of those around us, are directly impacted in either a positive or negative way based on that simple decision on whether or not to spend this time with Him!  We simply cannot afford to, like Martha, permit distractions in this area and miss out on the single most important thing (Jesus said Himself that it is!) that we can place in our schedule!
Finally, be that superhero that rushes in to save the day in someone’s life this week.  Look for opportunities to serve others and ask God to supernaturally equip and empower you to be able to serve in that way.  If they ask why you are doing it, tell them simply that it is because of what Jesus has done for you and wants to do for them.  After all, you are: The Gifted!