Love serves…(1 Peter 4:7-11)
“ Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Peter makes it clear that hospitality is an important part of loving each other. Hospitality is not an exercise in culinary expertise; it’s not a performance. It’s simply about being willing to open up our homes and our lives to each other. Spending time together, eating and drinking together is the foundation for relationships. And a church which has strong relationships can stand in times of storm.Using our gifts is how we serve one another. They are not for us to keep to ourselves. We don’t earn or deserve the gifts God gives us but He wants us to enjoy using them to bless others. And I believe life is only really fulfilling when we are using the gifts He has given us. We need all these gifts and Christ’s body, the church, only really functions well when we are all contributing what God has given us to bring. Now our approach to serving is probably one of the things I guess which we’ve really had to re-evaluate isn’t it? I think it was never intentional but somehow we took on a heavy burden to serve at times in the past and some of our lives became unbalanced because of it. I know I sometimes served out of fear of disapproval or criticism or fear of not looking a ‘good enough Christian’. I said ‘yes’ on the outside and ‘no’ in my heart. Maybe others have felt this too? Somehow serving became an obligation or a competition to outdo each other instead of a willing act of love. But that’s not God’s way. And we probably misrepresent Christ when this happens because He says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. But the antidote is not to stop serving. When something has got out of balance it can be easy to let the pendulum swing too far the other way. We feel we were obliged to serve, so now we stop and protect ourselves. Ultimately though, self-protection, will isolate us and leave us empty. The antidote to over-serving is not to abandon serving but to listen to the Lord and ask:
‘God do you want me to do this? Am I serving you in this? Or is there something else you require of me?’
He knows what is best for us – when He says ‘no, it’s time to rest’ then we must rest because we all have limits, especially if we are carrying other burdens. If we ignore our limits we place ourselves at risk of burnout and that is never God’s best for us. But when God says ‘yes’ then let’s say yes to Him because when we serve each other it is one of the most profound expressions of love – for each other and ultimately for Him.
– Nicky Kendall