Why do we serve God? In looking back at areas where I serve, I can see all sorts of motives: because it’s expected of me, because I’m supposed to, because I’ve been asked, because no one else will do it, because I see a need and I want to meet it, because I want to feel like I’m making a difference, because I love the person whom I’m serving, because I want to please God.
Some of those motivations are quite selfish, and some are not. I think we can even serve with multiple motivations at once. But many times our serving can come back to one thing: insecurity. We want to prove something, whether it’s to someone else, to ourselves, or to God. We want to feel good about ourselves.
Why did Jesus serve? When we look at the time when He washed the disciples’ feet, I always assumed he did it simply to set an example. But perhaps it went beyond that.
Jesus knew that the Father had given him everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. So He…began to wash His disciples’ feet…” (John 13: 3-5, emphasis mine)
Jesus knew who He was and was secure in His relationship to the Father. SO, he served.
Only when I know who I am in Christ and am secure in my relationship to Him will I be able to unselfishly serve others.
If I’m not secure in who I am in Christ, all I will strive to serve is myself.
If we break down the phrases in John 13: 3 – the phrases before “So he…served” – we can take Jesus’ example to our own lives and motivations for serving.
“Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands” (John 13: 3a)
Jesus: God had given everything to Jesus
Me: “For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1: 3a)
“Jesus knew that…He had come from God…” (John 13: 3a,b)
Jesus: He came from God
Me: My salvation came from God, not myself. “For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1: 4)
“Jesus knew that…He was going back to God” (John 13: 3a,c)
Jesus: He knew his destination, going back to be with the Father
Me: My future is an inheritance in the kingdom as a child of God. “To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1: 4)
Jesus knew who He was, what he had been given and where He was going. SO, He served.
When we are secure in who we are in Christ, what we’ve been given, and where we are going, SO, we can serve.
With pure motivations. With genuine love. And to set an example of love that is unparalleled in a culture of self.