2As we begin this study we need to understand that the words “serve” and “minister” are English translations of the same Greek word, “diakoneo”.The definition is “to be an attendant, i.e. wait upon (menially or as a host or friend; technically to act as a Christian deacon:minister unto (15X),serve (10X),minister (7X),administer, use the office of a deacon.Jesus said,“If anyone “serves” (diakoneo) Me let him follow Me.” John 12:26
3In Mark 10:43, 45 we read,“. . .Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant (diakoneo). . .For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve (diakoneo), and to give His life a ransom for many.”From the above verses we learn that the great purpose of God and God’s pathway to greatness is not lording our authority over others but becoming a servant to meet the needs of others.
4JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE OF SERVING “. . .Yet I am among you as the One Who serves” Luke 22:27.On the night before His crucifixion Jesus “…Began to wash His disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.”Afterwards He asked them,“Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If then your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:5, 6,
5OUR MOTIVATION FOR SERVING GOD IS OUR LOVE FOR HIM. This is the reason the first and greatest commandment is “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37, 38 (See also Deuteronomy 10:12; 30:6).It is when we understand and embrace God’s love for us that our minds and hearts are warmed to return that love to Him.“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” st John 4:10.
6Ten verses later we read. . . “We love Him because He first loved us.” st John 4:19.When all of God’s children are gathered together in heaven we will learn of the great accomplishments wrought through them down through the centuries. In every case they will testify that they were motivated by their love for God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
7OUR MOTIVATION FOR SERVING OTHERS IS LOVE Jesus taught that the second greatest commandment is like the first.“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39.Jesus added, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:40. (See also Leviticus 19:18)All this is affirmed by the apostle Paul “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8-10:
8For the commandments, ‘You shall not murder’, ‘You shall not steal’, ‘You shall not bear false witness’, ‘You shall not covet’, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Love dos no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
9THE LOVE THAT WE MUST HAVE The Greek word used to describe God’s love for us, our love for God and our love for others is agape. On the basis of definitions by highly respected Greek scholars (Barclay, Vine, Kittel, Thayer, etc) we can define agape love “an unconditional and unconquerable commitment that our thoughts, words and actions will be in the best interest and welfare of others.”
10We also note that agape love is primarily a commitment of our mind and will instead of our unstable emotions. It is on this basis that Jesus could command His disciples “. . .Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 , (Context verses 43-48).
11This Is a Difficult Command To Practice Jesus is commanding us not only to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also those who curse us, hate us, and persecute us. It is probable that every Christian has felt that this is beyond their ability to practice. Some have responded ‘I am not going to be a hypocrite and do something I really don’t feel like doing.” This sounds reasonable but it is not Biblical.
12Again, Jesus Has Set The Example If Jesus had refused to do something for us that He did not feel like doing, we would all be hopelessly condemned to an eternal Hell. We are informed in the gospels that in the garden of Gethsemane He prayed three times, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Matthew 26; 39, 42, 44.
13Hebrews 12:2 tells usHe “. . .endured the cross, despising the shame…”Jesus yielded Himself to die as a sacrifice for sinners…not because He felt like it but because He made an unconditional and unconquerable commitment to do what was in the best interest of a world of lost sinners.
14AGAPE LOVE MUST BE OUR MOTIVATION Most Christians who have been followers of Christ for a lengthy time have no trouble remembering occasions when they were needed to minister to the needs of others, but they did not do so. They can remember times when the attitudes and responses of others caused them to feel like responding unkindly instead of graciously.It is only after we have made an unconditional, unconquerable commitment to use our knowledge, time, effort, money, spiritual gifts, and abilities to minister to the needs of others that we rise above our negative feelings.
15Some Consequences of Not Having Agape Love Family members drift into the habits of fault-finding and sniping at one another.We lose concern for those who are hurtingWe neglect feeding our spiritual nature from the word of GodOur prayer life becomes just a form instead of heartfelt intercession.Our compassionate burden to win lost souls begins to evaporate.Our worship of God loses its fervencyTeachers lose their passion for communicating God’s truth
16Singers and musicians begin to think more in terms of entertainment instead of worship and praise. Preachers become more concerned about how they come across in their delivery instead of being the channel of truth needed from GodChurch members will become dividers instead of those who unite.
17When God’s people descend to these levels we can be assured that God’s response will be the same as it was to Ephesus. . .“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4.Hopefully, we will be motivated to cry out to God from the depths of our hearts, “Dear heavenly Father, please forgive me for leaving my first love and give me grace to commit myself to agape love for You, for my fellow Christians and for lost souls.”
18THE WAY WE SERVEOur service for God can be defined as “Motivated by love I will serve God according to His will with my spiritual gifts and talents. God’s will for us is to passionately serve Him with our gifts and talents wherever we are.
19Every Believer Has One or More Spiritual Gifts “Having then gifts according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them. . .” Romans 12:6“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.”“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” st Corinthians 12:4, 11.“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7.“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” st Peter 4:10.
20The Different GiftsThe Sign Gifts are thought by some sincere and dedicated Christians to be temporary gifts to accomplish the transition from the covenant of Mosaic law to the New Testament covenant of grace. Other sincere and dedicated Christians believe the sign gifts are permanent. They are Apostles, Prophets, Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Discerning of Spirits, Tongues (Languages).
21Gifts that Communicate God’s Word. Evangelists, Pastors, Preaching, Missions, Teachers, Exhortation (Encouragement).Gifts that Demonstrate God’s Love.Service, Mercy, Hospitality, Giving.Gifts that Celebrate God’s PresenceMusic, Singing, Arts and CraftsA gift that Supports Other GiftsHelpsPrayer Related GiftsIntercession, The prayer of faithGifts That Unite and Empower All OtherLeadership, Administration
22There are other gifts mentioned in the Bible There are other gifts mentioned in the Bible. There are probably many gifts not listed in the Bible. Most Christians find it very difficult to identify their spiritual gift or gifts. I suggest we become alert to activities to which we enjoy attending and how we find joy and fulfillment participating in them.
23This can be a real clue as to what our gift is This can be a real clue as to what our gift is. We can also participate in many different ministries and at some point become aware of our special gift. Divine confirmation comes when we experience results that go far beyond our human efforts.
24My testimony is that when I truly surrendered to serve in ministry I was motivated to learn everything I could about God’s truth. After many years of ministry it became clear to me that my special gift was being a Bible preacher.There are Scriptural Gift Analysis Available