13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Every year of high school and middle school, I went on a mission trip. This connoted going to Tennessee, Illinois, Florida, and even Jamaica to serve. It wasn’t until bible study today while reading In Our Joy by John Piper (get your free eBook here) that I realized the difference between serving in love and loving to serve.
Now, don’t get me wrong- serving is great, but it’s the heart behind it that can really make helping others that much more valuable. When you love serving, you are running on steam. Using the gratitude and joy of others receiving and praising your ‘helping heart’ and the satisfaction you feel at making a difference to power your service. It’s like you’re bicycling across the country running only on sheer will-power. Eventually, you will run out- and that can never end well.
When we use the gratitude of others to fill our motivation, what happens when they don’t thank you, or when you no longer feel satisfaction at serving? What happened when you run out of energy and can’t just restart the game over again?
You crash- hard. You start wondering how it is possible you could have tried too hard, could have done so much good, only to have nothing given to you in return. How could you give so much and receive nothing, or close to it?
There is a way to fix this. With love. 1 Corinthians 13: 8 states:
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
When you are overflowed with Christ’s love, you can keep going, no matter what. You don’t need to be gratified by others for God gratifies you with the Holy Spirit. When you stumble and fall, you can keep going for God is constantly and never-endingly filling you with His love so you can fill other’s with it too.
He gave you his love so that you want to serve, not so that you have to.
It’s like He gave you season tickets to *insert your favorite team or theater here* and BECAUSE of His generosity and your thankfulness, you go to every single game or performance and cheer as loud as you can. He gives you his love not because he wants you to serve Him and others, but because He cares for you deeply and profoundly. And his love is irrevocable.