We have been focusing on serving God and serving others around TBC this year. I like to think of those two actions, serving God and serving others, as synonymous. And for some people, that seems like a “no-brainer” concept. For others it doesn’t automatically click. I want to take a few minutes to see if I can take us from one to the other in a convincing fashion.

One of the purposes of each person’s life is to love God. We are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. (Matt 22:37) Jesus says this is the greatest commandment. For a Christian, it shouldn’t just be our duty, it should be our desire. We should not only recognize the ways that He has provided for us, cared for us, walked beside us, and blessed us. We also know that, while we were still lost in our sin, He demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as a payment for our sins. He freed us from the debt of our sin! He deserves our love and devotion.

Paul makes it clear that our devotion to God is demonstrated through the willing gift of living our lives for Him. Paul says to live our lives as a living sacrifice. In fact, He says it is our reasonable service. (Rom 12:1) So I would say that my love for God is shown through serving Him with my life. When I serve Him, it is me living out the Great Commandment, to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. So loving God equals serving God.

The second part of the Great Commandment, according to Jesus, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. He says it is equal to the first part, loving God. We are expected to love our neighbors on the same level that we love ourselves. For me, I put this into practice by putting the needs of my neighbors on par with my own needs. I put the feelings of my neighbors on the same level as my own feelings. I see a person, made in God’s image, that God loves enough to allow His Son to die for. That is how I am to see my neighbor.

The question often comes up, as it did in Jesus’ day, who is my neighbor? When Jesus answered, it was to describe a man that, in that time, would have been despised by most of Jesus’ audience. But that man was the one who cared for another, a Jew, that he didn’t know. He was the hero of the story. We refer to him as the Good Samaritan. Jesus said to go and do like he did. So, who is my neighbor? Who is your neighbor? The simplest answer for me is: anyone that is not me. The simplest answer for you is: anyone that is not you.

So, I am to love those that are not me as I love me. You are to love those that are not you, as you love you. And since we demonstrate our love for God by serving Him, shouldn’t we demonstrate our love for others by serving them?

And to bring it back around, Jesus tells us when we provide for those that are in need and care for those that are hurting (He refers to them as “the least of these”), we are really providing and caring for Him. (Matt 25:40)

In other words, serving others serves God.

Keith Buttram

Executive Pastor