If you knew you only had a few hours left to live what would you do? Where would you go? Who would you talk with in your last few moments of life? I am not sure what I would do, but we do know what Jesus did in the final hours of his life. It can be summed up in one word:
Served. That is it. He served.
In John 13, Jesus gathers with his disciples to share one final meal with them before his crucifixion. We’re not sure whether the disciples knew this was His final meal, but it is clear that Jesus knew. And what does Jesus choose to do on his last night with his disciples? He washes their feet! This was normally a task given to servants, but on this evening Jesus does it.
Following the washing He instructs them do what He has done.
Here are the 5 powerful things Jesus taught us about service.
1. Everyone has the opportunity to serve
Think about it. It is a not a discipline reserved for a select few. If you are small or great, rich or poor, young or old, black or white-none of that matters. We all are given the opportunity to do as Jesus has taught us to do.
Jesus never thought of Himself as “higher” than everyone else. The one who made heaven and earth came in the form of a man to serve what he had created (John 1:1-14). The Creator served what He had created. The Highest of all served what He had made so that what He had made would learn to serve one another. This is both a humbling and amazing thought.
2. Serve where you are now
You may say, “What if I don’t like what I am doing now?”
Serve well anyway. Your service is an act of faith and obedience. The quality of your service says more about you than you realize. Serving well where you are today can create the opportunities to serve where you would like to serve in the future.
If the quality of your service is always linked to whether you like it or not, then people come to realize they can only depend on you when you like it. Just because you don’t like what you are doing does not give you an excuse to have a bad attitude or to perform a job poorly.
Don’t say, “I will serve better when I am doing something I like to do.” Serve well where you are now. Give it your best. Don’t hold back. Be known as the person who “gets it done.” I am sure it was not a comforting thought for Jesus to be headed to the cross, but he served anyway. He had served His entire life and He would not miss the opportunity now.
3. Serve with Excellence
When we serve, we should do so as if we were doing it to God (Colossians 3:23). Every act of service should be done “as if” we are serving God. Would you offer God something that was done poorly? Would you present something sloppily made to Jesus? Serve with excellence in everything that you do.
Joseph is a great example of serving with excellence. He was sold into slavery and served well anyway. He was put in jail for a crime he did not commit and he continued to serve well. Everywhere he went, his superiors saw his good work and gave him promotions and more responsibilities. His motto was, “I will do whatever I need to do to serve in the place where God has me.” It was his excellent service that eventually led to his promotion to second in command of the kingdom of Egypt. Serve well.
4. Serve Diligently-Laziness is not an option
Proverbs 6:6-11 gives us a great example of serving diligently. An example learned from watching ants. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
Can you imagine Jesus giving up half-way through a difficult task? Can you imagine Him saying, “I’m fed up with these disciples. I’m going to get me some new ones?” I can’t imagine Him saying that either. Serve diligently even when you want to give up.
5. Serve everyone
Jesus served EVERYONE. The poor and rich, religious and pagan, women and men, jew and gentile, slave and free. He refused to live by the motto, “I will only serve those who ______.” That language did not fit in his vocabulary.
In the book of James 2:1-9 we are warned about treating one person or group differently from another for any reason. You should not serve someone any less because of how they look, where they come from, the color of their skin or any other distinguishing factor.
Any time we do something to the least of these, we do it as unto God. When we treat someone with partiality for any reason we miss what God wanted us to learn during the interaction. It is a great honor to serve anyone. Others see our service and how it was performed and make decisions regarding what kind of future relationship they will have with us and the God we serve.
Serving all people well at all times says something about you. It says that you will do what is right even when no one is looking. It shows that you care about people. It shows that you refuse to reserve your service only for the people that can do something in return for you. It shows that you love and serve just like Jesus did.
Service is a privilege we all have been given.
Serve everyone with excellence, where you are now, and do it diligently.
After all it was Jesus who said in the closing hours of His life to those He invested in the most,
And we get to share in His life. WOW!!