Two Motivations to Serve
To serve is to perform duties for another’s benefit. In our day and age the word serve is associated with charities, the military and service industries. If we volunteer for a charity we say we are serving those less fortunate than we are. We describe a person in the army as serving his country. People work serving food and when our car breaks down we call a tow truck service. Of course the word serve is also used in tennis and whether it benefits the other person or not depends upon how good you are at serving.
The first time the Bible talks about serving God is Exodus 3:12 when God met Moses at the burning bush. God told Moses that he and the Israelites would come to the same mountain he was standing on and serve God there.
There’s no question Moses and the Israelites understood the two motivations of service, forced and voluntary. At the moment when God was talking to Moses the Israelites were in forced servitude to the Egyptians. And there was a part of their family history that every Jew knew about, that involved voluntary service. It’s the story of Jacob and Rachel.
Jacob, to put it kindly, was a trickster. One day after tricking his brother out of his birthright, he had to flee for his life. He ended up living with and working for his uncle Laban in a distant land. Laban told Jacob that he wanted to pay him for his work and asked what wages he wanted. The Bible tells us,
Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Genesis 29:18
Here is what the Bible tells us happened next.
So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. Genesis 29:20
Unfortunately the story takes a bitter twist. Laban turned the tides and tricked Jacob. He gave him Leah, Rachel’s older sister instead of Rachel for his wife. Undeterred, Jacob willingly served another seven years to have the woman he deeply loved.
The Israelites knew from experience the two motivations for service.
Two Motivations To Serve
- forced service, when one has no choice, out of obligation or even guilt
- grateful service, when one serves out of love and thankfulness
The Bible commands us to serve God Exodus 7:16, Romans 12:11 but God doesn’t force us to serve Him. He gives us a choice.
Stop right now and think about the blessings of your life. It’s likely that almost everyone reading this has more than enough to eat and enjoys freedom and safety. It’s all because of our Father and Jesus and the Spirit of God.
Our acts of service are gifts to the Father, Son and Spirit. Don’t bring a present to the party out of obligation. Bring a present out of joy and gratitude because you love the host.
How have you learned to serve out of gratitude? Do you have a story of how someone has served that has touched your heart? Leave a comment or question below.