7 Biblical Motivations for Service

In its ordinariness, the spiritual discipline of service doesn’t have the appeal of many of the other disciplines. Discover seven biblical motivations for developing a passion for service.

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Deborah Haddix

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Last week while exploring the spiritual discipline of service, we noted that God doesn’t call anyone to idleness. There are no passes. Every Christian is expected to serve.

Even so, we also noted that it is not very often that service ranks very high on a list of spiritual disciplines. We wondered if its lack of appeal had anything to do with the fact that this discipline seems so, well… ordinary.

If this is the case, how then, might we bring ourselves to push past the mundane and develop a passion for service? Let me suggest that we turn to our Bibles and meditate on some biblical motivations for service.

Biblical Motivations for Service

OBEDIENCE

Obedience to God is a strong motivation. We serve God because He commands it (Deuteronomy 13:4).

GRATITUDE

We were dead in our sins. We were without Christ and without hope. God’s judgment is what we rightly deserved. But God didn’t leave us there. In His lavish and abundant grace, He sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sins in order that we might be forgiven. God called us to Himself by His Spirit. He gave us faith that we might believe in Christ. And He did all this not because we deserved it, but because it pleased Him to make us His people. From start to finish, we are debtors to God’s grace.

When our hearts grow cold towards serving God, when it all seems so thankless, we would do well to think on the great and mighty things the Lord has done for us in Christ. Our gratitude should inspire us to serve Him fervently (1Samuel 12:24)!

GLADNESS

Meditating upon what God has accomplished through Christ should fill us with gratitude. It should also fill us with joy. Joy as we remember the work of Christ, and joy as we look forward to His return. This joy in the Lord ought to motivate us to service a service characterized by joy, not by murmuring and complaining (Psalm 100:2).

Just as reading our Bible and praying are a privilege, it is a privilege to serve God. There is joy not only in remembering what God has done for us. There is joy in seeing how God works to grow other Christians through our service and in laboring together with others for the sake of the gospel. Such fellowship is exceptionally sweet and encourages us in our service (Philippians 1:3-5).

HUMILITY

Two of the biggest things that often hinder our sincere service to God are pride and self-centeredness. Within each of us (whether we want to admit it or not) is a sinful tendency to ask, “What do I get out of it? If I must serve, I want some recognition.” It’s true. We all fight it.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we must strive to put these sinful desires of pride and self-centeredness to death.

One way to work at putting these sinful desires to death is to model our service after Jesus. He is, after all, the perfect example of what it means to serve with humility (Mark 10:35-34). In humility, He washed His disciples’ feet and offered Himself as a willing sacrifice for sin for all those who would trust in Him.

As those who follow Him, who desire to grow in Christlikeness, should we not do likewise (Philippians 2:3-8).

LOVE

Love is at the heart of sincere Christian service. Without love, any form of service would be hypocritical. Love motivates and encourages us to serve God earnestly.

First, we can love God and our fellow Christians only because God first loved us (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). This is the starting point. It is God’s love for us in Christ Jesus that spurs us to serve Him.

Understanding God’s great love is what motivated the apostle Paul to give himself entirely to the Lord’s work. Paul realized that because Christ had died for him, he could no longer live for himself. He was to live for his Savior. Likewise, the unchanging love of Christ for us ought to stir us up to serve. 

First is God’s love for us. Second is our love for God. After His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter replied, “Yes.” And three times Jesus exhorted Peter to feed His sheep. Do we, like Peter, claim to love our Lord? Then let us serve Him cheerfully and diligently.

Third, our love for other Christians should motivate us to serve them (Galatians 5:13). By serving our brothers and sisters in Christ, we show our love for them and commend the gospel to those outside the faith. By loving service to others, we show ourselves to be His disciples.

REWARD

Our salvation cannot be earned with good works (Ephesians 2:8). However, there is a sense in which our reward in heaven is determined by our faithfulness in serving God in this life (Matthew 6:19-21).

Another biblical motivation for serving God is the certainty of our bodily resurrection. As Christians, we have a sure hope in Christ that assures us of future glory. This ought to encourage and motivate us, as it did the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:58).

GODLINESS

As we noted above, serving is part of our obedience to God. To serve faithfully is to grow in our sanctification. Serving is a spiritual discipline that we cultivate for the purpose of godliness.

An Important Reminder

Before we close our discussion on biblical motivations for service, I think this is a good time for us to be reminded of this one important truth.

Not only is every Christian expected to serve.
Every Christian is gifted to serve.

As believers in Christ, we have all received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). And He sovereignly equips each of us with spiritual gifts so that we are able to serve.

In 1 Corinthians 12:4, we read that “there are a variety of gifts,” and in verse 11, that the Holy Spirit “apportions to each one individually as he wills.” There are many, many types of gifts. I don’t necessarily have the same gifts as you. Likewise, you don’t necessarily have the same gifts as me. Each of us is gifted “individually.”

Here’s the thing. Even though there are many different types of gifts, and none of us is gifted the same, each gift has the very same purpose. The gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit are for service – that God may be glorified (1 Peter 4:10-11).

How Do I Determine My Gifting

One way to discover our spiritual gifting is to study Scripture. Another way is simply by serving. There are those who rely on spiritual gifts inventories for discovering how they are gifted to serve. (And these inventories aren’t a bad thing!) However, maybe a more helpful way to discover and confirm our gifting is to consider the needs of others. So, instead of asking, “What are my spiritual gifts?” the better questions might be, “What are the needs of God’s people? How can I serve and love them by meeting those needs?”

Maybe, just maybe, God’s intention is to move us out of our comfort zones. To provide us with opportunities to grow. Perhaps He is calling us to serve in new and unfamiliar ways, so that we learn to depend more on Him and less on ourselves.

Remember that just as He provides us with new opportunities to serve, He also supplies us with fresh enabling grace.

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About the Author

Deborah Haddix

I am a child of God, wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, niece, and friend who loves nothing better than spending time with those I love.

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