Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Whom do you serve? That may seem like a simple question; and, on the surface, it is. I serve the people whom I’m helping. If I’m helping my daughter with her homework, I’m serving her. When I’m preparing food in the kitchen, I’m serving the people who will eat it. If I help a co-worker with a project, I’m serving him. The answer to the question of whom I serve is usually pretty obvious . . . except when it’s not.
Have you ever done something for someone in order to reap a benefit for yourself? For example, have you ever thrown a party for your friends and neighbors so you could boost your social standing? Was every guest invited because you wanted to show your appreciation for them or simply be with them, or did you invite some of them with the hope that they’d think more highly of you? Ouch! How about serving at church? Do you ever help out because you think God will be more pleased with you?
Of course, it’s not always that simple. Often our motives are mixed. We serve others because we want to meet their needs and because of some benefit we expect to receive. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying serving others, but we have to be careful that our service doesn’t become more about us than about the people we’re serving.
How can we grow in our ability to serve others without becoming focused on ourselves? Here are two suggestions: First, pray! Ask God to give you a heart for those whom your serving. Ask Him to help you be more focused on others than on yourself.
Second, spend a few minutes reading and thinking about the context of the verse we’re considering. Take a look at 1 Peter 4:7-11.
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 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.
What strikes you about that passage? How do you think it relates to the issue of whom we are serving? Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at these verses and seeing what they have to say to us about serving.