What does it mean to serve?

by Shannon Lee

Well, serving could mean a lot of things to a lot of people and many of those ways of serving won’t all look the same.  And that’s ok.  I was thinking recently about this thing called serving and what it means to truly serve others.  This lead me to start thinking about where the impetus of that service can come from if we are viewing that service through the eyes of faith.

Micah 6:8 says this: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Or another translation says it this way, which I think is pretty powerful: “But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.  It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously.”

I love that.

Fair.  Compassionate.  Humble.  Simple, right?

I was raised being told “fair” doesn’t exist.  Yet we all carry these varying definitions of what is fair, especially when it comes to other people, social injustices and morality.  But what I would encourage us to focus on is much simpler and basic, which is grace.  We have all been given grace and grace is what makes us just.  If we can think of the grace we’ve been given and extend that to others, that is a huge step towards fairness because God bestows his grace out on all.  In Matthew we are reminded of this grace-for-all approach:

“This is what God does.  He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.  If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus?  Anybody can do that…Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Living a life filled with compassion for others simply put, is freeing.  Why?  Because it absolutely requires we lay down judgement.  When we judge others our minds become clouded and our hearts hardened.  Compassion cannot thrive in this internal environment.  All too often we are afraid to set judgement aside, believing our judgement is what causes another person to see truth or God’s grace.  Which leads me to humility.

Judgement sets us up as the expert, the one who has it all figured out.  But we see at the end of this Micah passage, we are encouraged to walk humbly.  One definition of humility is, to submit to divine grace!  There’s grace again!  It’s all connected.

When we are truly in touch with the grace that works in and through us, we can choose to walk humbly so that we can act with compassion towards others.

Can you imagine a world where we served in this way?

Shannon Lee is the Associate Director and Relā(NxGen) Coordinator at Relā.  She resides in Lewis Center, Ohio with her husband Kristofer and their three children Jaren (19), Kaylee, (17) and Nia (15).

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