Serving Even the Ungrateful

(Note: These questions followed our July 13 sermon.  –geno)

Q1: Are we to continue in service to someone who is ungrateful, selfish and works you over and wrings you dry? If we quit serving them then have we failed Jesus?

A1: Sounds like you’ve had a hard time with someone.  Serving an ungrateful overlord (or even a spoiled child) with a great attitude is difficult but possible.  The Apostle Peter taught that slaves should serve their masters well, even the mean ones, because they were imitating Christ ultimately. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”  (I Peter 2:18-21, ESV)

Q2: How much effort should be put into serving outside one’s natural talents? Or should people try to serve best by staying mostly within their giftings?

A2:  I think it is always best to understand one’s gifts and call from God and work within those parameters.  However, everyone should understand that from time-to-time the Spirit of the Lord will move us to serve outside our natural gift set.  The only key here is to be obedient, as far as one can tell, to God’s leading.  Gifts and calling serve as indicators to help us know how God want us to serve Him.

Q3: How do I become more responsible in the church so that I can be more of a servant to the church?

A3: In the moment I responded, “Go help Hala.”  By that I was saying one clear way was to actually go and serve in children’s ministry.  The way to responsibility is simply to become committed to a particular area of service.  We like to say to people, “We know you’re with us at Hope Chapel when we see you serving alongside us.”  Feel free to contact me if you do not know how to get in touch with one of our ministry leaders and I’ll get you connected quickly.

Q4: Any thoughts on working with mixed intentions when I seek to serve? For example, “I think I want to serve but maybe I’m just doing it to feel good or check a box.” 

A4: I think there is no such thing as pure intentions in fallen humanity.  Luther once quipped that ‘even our repentance needs to be repented of.’  On a more positive note, I think it is great to work toward as pure an intention as possible.  That is one reason I recommend serving those who cannot pay us back.

Q5: Do you think Mrs. Z was speaking of heaven, or of an independent Kingdom of Judea?

A5: An independent Kingdom of Judea.  The Disciples were still asking this question 40 days after the resurrection:  “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6, ESV)

Q6: What if what we feel most called to do is not very “helpful,” for example art?  How can we use art, dancing, or other passions that some people consider useless to serve others?

A6: First off I MUST take exception with the underlying premise that ‘art, dancing or other passions’ may be considered useless by ‘some people.’  While some may disparage arts we do NOT at Hope Chapel.  We highly value art and artists.  During my response to this question Dan Watkins quoted this line, “I insist on believing that beauty elevates human beings.”  –Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Love-Girl and the Innocent (1969 play), Act III, Sc. iii

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2 Responses to Serving Even the Ungrateful

  1. Kevin,

    Please forgive my tardy response to your great question. While reward or glory or praise may confirm the value of our work it does not actually provide the intrinsic value our work has in itself. Your work has intrinsic value for lots of reasons, not least of which is that it serves others, making their lives more healthier, more productive and more comfortable. Your training day-in and day-out will see fruit down the road. There is where what is intrinsic will be made public. Actually, that is true even now, seen in the behavior of those for whom you toil. Finally, may the Lord Himself provide you with the kind of praise that satisfies your soul and may you find the praise of man, while helpful, not so much needed. –geno

  2. Atomic Mule says:

    You (along with scripture) have said that work is holy, and we serve God not man. Some folks are motivated by rewards, other’s glory, but I am sure the ideal motivation is love (OF the one served). Yet at some point reward or glory or praise comes to be confirmation of the value of our work. Does God value our work? The person(s) i serve do not seem to value my efforts, or very poorly express their gratefulness. Our community, a great community, does not talk of how great efforts like mine are (not very frequently at least), and even less so my own. I am driven by others thinking well of me, of glory or honor. There is little honor I feel, and I know God loves me but is the honor He has for me (only) in the fact He has placed me in the position I am in? That He trusts me with “x” task? Then why do I not hear more frequently I am doing well?

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