Summary: Service is a critical tie that binds us to one another in love, and is one of the most vital ways that we can nurture greatness in both ourselves and our community. So how do we go about serving in the loving way that Jesus encouraged?

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When you think about serving others—why do you do it? Because I have to is the common response. What if I told you today that you could serve because you want to not because you have to?

Serving from the heart is the theme of the study that we are looking at during Sunday School for the next few weeks. Discovering your gifts and talents for service.

What could happen in your life if you viewed serving not something you have to do to a view of something you want to do because you love God and love people? You love the people God has created and placed around you at church, home and in the community?

So what are the marks of a person who serves from the heart? How do you know you’re working from the heart?

1—The first thing is that you work not for recognition but because you want to.

I invite you to contemplate these words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount as it reads in the Message version of the Bible:

"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively.” Matthew 6:1-4 (Msg)

Jesus is our model for service. As I have studied his life and looked closely at the healing stories about Jesus, I have never seen Jesus after he healed someone turn around to the crowd and say “Do you see that? Did you see what I just did?

James and John, they were brothers, came up to him. "Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us."

"What is it? I’ll see what I can do."

"Arrange it," they said, "so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left."

Jesus said, "You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?"

"Sure," they said. "Why not?"

Jesus said, "Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that."

I love James and John though. They remind me of me.

Jesus concludes this discussion by responding: (Mark 10:43-45 NLT)

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Having a heart of a servant--a great servant is one who serves without expecting recognition or doing it to be recognized.

2—The next mark of a person serving from the heart is that you are such a person of joy and light that others want to be around you.

That’s what it was about with Jesus—that’s why people wanted to be around him. People couldn’t get enough of his energy. Matthew 14:35-36 tells us:

After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

People just wanted to touch the hem of his garment because he had so much energy and joy.

On another occasion Jesus said:

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:10-11

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength.” --Nehemiah 8:10

To what extent are you a person serving from a heart of joy and light so that others want to be around you so much? That’s the second mark.

The third mark of a servant from the heart:

3—You are growing in Spiritual maturity. How do you know if you are maturing spiritually?

Paul often compared training for the Christian life to the way athletes prepare themselves and stay in shape. I love the Phillips paraphrase of 1 Timothy 4:7 - which says, "Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” The path to spiritual fitness is as practical as the way you become physically fit. It involves personal discipline.

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