Summary: Sometimes our zeal for evangelism and for secular service is so great that we neglect the need for service within the Christian family.
A young child was sitting in class listening to the teacher explain a government generated lesson on what service means. The teacher carefully explained that, from a public standpoint, service is an important and useful action, which is performed to meet a specific public need. She went on to explain that, from a legal perspective, a service can be a formal delivery of a notice, summons, or writ. She then explained that, in the banking world, a service is a payment of interest or loan installment, or dividends, as scheduled. The teacher finished by emphasizing that the noblest act of service is our putting forth a personal effort to meet the demands of a humanitarian need. She told the children that their family could provide a noble service through such things as:
• Volunteering to help at a place, which provides food for the homeless
• Donating items to a local charity resale shop
• Visiting an old folks home
• Helping with setting up and running charity events
• Collecting funds for disaster relief or tragic events
• Helping in community beautification programs
• Participating in public events supporting human rights
In all of these things the teacher emphasized how participating in this kind of service would help strengthen the human bond between people: between the server and the one being served, as well as developing a bond between the servers. The teacher closed the lesson by emphasizing the point that helping others will make the individual doing the service feel good about themselves.
The subliminal message in the government generated lesson of service is that participating in worldly humanitarian service will make me feel better about myself, I will become a valuable member of good people, and my effort will get other people to admire what I have done. In other words, participating in public service is really all about me.
Secular Verse Christian Service
There can be no questioning the fact that the underlying motivation for secular humanitarian service can be, and often is, focused on the server as much as, or more than, the cause being served. This cannot, however, be the motivation for a Christian. When Christian service highlights the server then the server has their reward from man and not from God. A Christian server should not let their left hand know what their right hand is doing. Matthew 6:1-4 Whether our service is secular or within the Christian community it is very important that we have the right reason for serving and that we serve with the right attitude. We should in not in any way resemble the scribes and the Pharisees, who do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. Matthew 23:5
More important, Christian service, even humanitarian Christian service, must be secondary to our serving our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Remember the issue of the precious ointment and how some of the disciples felt that the woman wasted it on Jesus instead of it being sold and the money given to the poor. Sounded most noble to sell the ointment and give the money to the poor; but, Jesus said: “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” Matthew 26:6-11 Jesus was not implying we ignore the poor nor was He saying that helping the poor is a waste of time. Jesus was simply pointing out that we must have our priorities straight. Our Christian service must come before secular humanitarian service.