Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Matthew 20:28 (New International Version)
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
During these challenging economic times, it is tempting to turn into self. Our natural inclination is to focus on our own lack of provision, what we need in order to “make it,” and what strategic moves we must employ to “come up.” The old adage of “get all you can and can all you get,” becomes our mantra as we scramble to hoard resources and manage our personal economies.
I submit to you, Family, that scrambling, hoarding, and striving may be the world’s way of dealing with financially troubling times, but they are not God’s. In fact the words Kingdom Economics is an oxymoron. “Economics” denotes limited resources – and in God’s kingdom, nothing good and necessary is limited or scarce. God himself is the source of our provision – not our employers, the stock market, or our even our own businesses. God directs the flow of resources into our lives, choosing whichever channels please him. So while he may use our employers, the stock market, or our own businesses to bless us financially, make no mistake, He is using them. They produce and provide nothing without his expressed permission. So enjoy your financial channel for as long as it lasts and for what it is, a means God uses to get his resources to you, but do not mistake it for your Source.
One of the main reasons God directs resources our way is so that we can distribute them to others. Bishop Kenneth Ulmer of Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, often says it this way, “If God can get a blessing through you, he will get a blessing to you.” In the kingdom way of thinking, we must begin to see ourselves also as channels of blessing. How different is the perspective of someone who is constantly looking to share with others, from someone who is constantly looking to take from others or to merely receive from God. Open your mind and your heart to those in need around you. Unclench your fist. You dwell under a friendly sky. God is looking for ways and reasons to use to help others. Be open to the move of the Holy Spirit. You are richer than you think.
Here are five really good reasons to serve our brothers and sisters in need:
1. Serving Makes You Grateful
It’s true. When you are tempted to complain about how bad things are, like the new car you can’t buy. Remember, you could be on the bus. Serving those who are truly in need helps you to gain proper perspective on your own situation. If you’ve been hit hard by the economy, imagine what people who make less money, or who have lost their incomes entirely must be experiencing right now. I have found that the joy of the people I serve shames me. There are many people in need who are grateful for every small thing. I am convicted of my ungrateful, selfish mindset whenever I meet them. Most are noble, upstanding people, who have just fallen on hard times. We are the same folks – we just find ourselves in different situations.
2. Serving Exposes You To Like-Minded People
People who serve voluntarily (as opposed to those forced to complete community service as part of a sentence) tend to enjoy giving back to their communities. They are often either directly or indirectly part of a network of people who pool resources and mobilize communities to work together for the sake of those in need. They are privy to information and projects that people who don’t consistently serve may not know. I recommend finding group or organization that is closely related to something you enjoy doing. Do you like to shop? Try collecting clothes for “store” that provides business attire for those seeking jobs. Do you enjoy cooking? Take on a shift at a local soup kitchen, preparing or serving meals. Do you shop regularly for groceries? Find out what your local or church food pantry needs and add a few items to your list.
3. Serving Affirms the Dignity of Your Fellow Man
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down from heaven to serve not to be served. Why? Because he values every human life. When you adopt his mindset, you see that every person breathing deserves your respect. In God’s kingdom respect is given – not earned – just as love is. When the bottom fell out of my family’s financial world a few years back, the many of the people who helped us were very careful to affirm our dignity. To them we were not losers, hobos, the homeless, the unemployed, the broke. They made it clear that we were the Mitchell family and it was their privilege to be the people God used to help us back on our feet. What could have been a potentially humiliating time in my life, turned out to be one that confirmed for me just how much God loves me. When you serve, remember, you are serving a person, in every way your equal or better – not a charity case.
4. By Serving Others We Actually Serve Christ
Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Throughout scripture God affirms and reaffirms that he is on the side of the poor and the oppressed. Their very existence is an opportunity to practice pure religion.
5. Serving Pleases God
Serving others as a means to please the Lord is not based on a debtor’s ethic. We aren’t working off what we owe God for our salvation. God would never put such a burden on us. Rather we serve in response to the love that God has shown us – first and foremost by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. God desires our company so much that he willfully sacrificed his Son to make that possible. What do we have that we can give God in exchange for that? Nothing. But we can express our gratitude, by showing that same sacrificial love to others through humbly serving them in Jesus’ name.