Servanthood--Helping Others Fulfill Their Needs
The time is near when all things will end. So think clearly and control yourselves so you will be able to pray. Most importantly, love each other deeply, because love will cause people to forgive each other for many sins. Open your homes to each other, without complaining. Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace. Anyone who speaks should speak words from God. Anyone who serves should serve with the strength God gives so that in everything God will be praised through Jesus Christ. Power and glory belong to him forever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Peter 4:7-11, NCV
We are not saying that we can do this work ourselves. It is God who makes us able to do all that we do. He made us able to be servants of a new agreement from himself to his people. This new agreement is not a written law, but it is of the Spirit. The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life. ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, NCV
Every believer has been “called” (summoned) TO God for the purposes of having a personal relationship and so that they would be able to unite with God. Additionally, every believer has been “called” (summoned) FOR God. Father God calls every believer for the purpose of working in the Lord’s vineyards while they live out their God-appointed roles, responsibilities, values, attitudes, and positions in the places Father God wants them to live. Put differently, God “called” believers in Christ so that they could minister to others on behalf of God and Jesus the Christ.
To be sure, every believer’s primary spiritual “calling” pertains to the Caller (God) summoning the “called” (every believer) TO Him FOR Him. Moreover, any secondary or specific spiritual “callings” that come as a result of the primary calling would pertain to EVERYTHING the “called out ones” do in response to that primary calling—everything they would do for Father God and the Lord Jesus the Christ in response to being “called out” into a relationship and a communion with God.
Furthermore, this spiritual “calling” (the receiving of God’s summons or directive to live life entirely to His Glory) means that every believer FIRST MUST surrender to Jesus the Christ’s Lordship and Leadership while, simultaneously, purposing in his or her own heart that he or she would live the God kind of Christian lifestyle that allows Father God to use him or her to His Glory, as he or she serves God in the Army of the Lord. Once again, serving God and Jesus the Christ is what believers do when they minister. In fact, according to the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, to minister means to serve or help others by attending to their needs. So then, as Father God and the Lord’s servant, every believer “called” TO God and FOR Him is “called” to serve God and Jesus the Christ by serving or helping people satisfy or fulfill their spiritual, physical, financial, material, communal, familial, emotional, mental, and/or psychological needs.
There are, of course, many ways that believers can minister to other people. However, before believers would be able to minister to (before they could satisfy the needs of) others the way Jesus the Christ ministered to the people in His day, today’s believers must be able to show every individual the God kind of Love. Since, servanthood to Jesus the Christ concerns doing good deeds for others without having any strings attached, and since servanthood equals Agape (godly Love), then it should be obvious that the servanthood our Lord demonstrated is the same servanthood that we need to copy.
God has “called” us to be His children who are like their Big Brother, Jesus the Christ. For this reason, we too should show the same God kind of Love to others (servanthood), which is the kind of Love that doesn’t expect anything in return. ONLY when believers truly love one another—truly love ALL people—could believers then begin to develop the necessary God kind of GREAT Compassion that it takes for believers to minister successfully to people.
Secondly, before believers would be able to minister to others, contemporary believers must care so much about other humans that genuine believers always would tell others the truth, even if that truth would hurt someone’s feelings, or if that truth is not what anybody wants to hear. Thirdly, before believers would be able to minister to others, modern-day believers must be accessible and approachable to those who are in need. For sure, believers must get involved with (interact with) the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the imprisoned, the orphaned, the widowed, the abused, the neglected, and so forth. Lastly, before believers would be able to minister to others, 21st-century believers must be knowledgeable about the Gospel’s Truths. Additionally, these believers must be able to express those Gospel Truths in ways that other people would be blessed.
When true believers are loving, caring, accessible, approachable, and Gospel Truths knowledgeable individuals, then the Holy Spirit can prompt, teach, and lead them in the ways that they should minister to others. As earlier stated, there are many ways that believers can minister to other people.
The first way that the Holy Spirit prompts, teaches, and leads us in our ministering is in serving/helping saints (ministering to fellow believers in Christ) by coming together (being in an assembly or ekklesia) for the purposes of worshipping and praising God, and so that we can motivate or encourage each other to perform acts of Love and good works (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25) for those who are in need. Some of those acts of Love and good deeds include, but are not limited to, showing hospitality; making meals for those who are unable to cook for themselves; doing yard work, doing house work, taking care of children or the elderly, and being a good listener, when dealing with grieving families; sending beautiful cards and encouraging letters, in the hope of brightening someone’s day; visiting the hospitalized or in the home bedridden sick; visiting inmates; providing food, clothing, toiletries, and shelter, the primary physical needs for most of the poor; sending care packages to sick people, military personnel, college students, etcetera; sponsoring a child; and so forth.
A second way that the Holy Spirit prompts, teaches, and leads us in our ministering is in serving/helping saints and unbelievers through the use of our spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Peter 4:7-11). To begin with, we must remember that spiritual gifts are NOT talents, and they are NOT the results of specialized/professional training, nor are spiritual gifts innate abilities and skills. A spiritual gift is the means by which the Holy Spirit edifies (educates, enlightens) and exhorts (encourages, urges) the whole Body of Christ. In other words, spiritual gifts are Holy Spirit specially assigned/given Divine endowments that enable/prepare Holy Spirit-filled believers for spiritual service—spiritual gifts enable/prepare Holy Spirit-filled believers to accomplish an assigned/given ministry job God’s way, according to His Grace, His Perfect and/or Permissive Will, and His Spiritual Discernment.
As previously mentioned, spiritual gifts are to be used, first and foremost, to edify and exhort the whole Body of Christ. Some of the super supernatural spiritual gifts used while ministering to others are: Word of wisdom, Word of knowledge, faith gifts, healing gifts, miracle-working gifts, prophetic gifts, spiritual discernment, speaking in different kinds of tongues, and interpreter of those different kinds of tongues (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10). Other special spiritual gifts used in ministering to others are those such as church building (specifically apostles’ work), prophesying (specifically prophets’ work), evangelizing or preaching (specifically evangelists, missionaries, and/or pastors’ work), teaching (specifically Word of God teachers’ work), administration, helps, and so forth (cf. Acts 13:1; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 4:11).
It is important to note here again that being “called” and having a “calling” both pertain to the Caller deciding the specific purpose for which He uniquely creates the “called out ones,” which is to glorify ONLY Him! In other words, from before the foundation of the world, and all for the purpose of glorifying the Caller, Father God (the Caller) chose the places (where) His “called out ones” would put into practice their predestined roles, responsibilities, values, attitudes, and positions.
Now, even though God has given the Body of Christ His five-fold spiritual leaders, who are apostles, prophets, evangelists (those who go and share the Good News with unbelievers), pastors (those who take care of the Lord’s sheep), and teachers (those who teach the Word of God and discipleship), EVERY believer must understand that he or she is “called” to be an evangelist! Moreover, many of Jesus the Christ’s believers also are “called” to function in multiple spiritual positions, for example, as: apostle-pastor-evangelist, or prophet-teacher-evangelist, and so forth.
Put differently, the Holy Spirit gives each believer who has been baptized (infilled) by Him a unique combination of the abovementioned, as well as many other, spiritual gifts—those spiritual gifts that are especially appropriate for each individual believer. The Holy Spirit then persuades the spiritually endowed persons to use their spiritual gifts to minister to the Body of Christ, first, and then to minister to the unsaved masses.
For Holy Spirit filled, empowered, and endowed believers, gathering together to encourage and help one another grow spiritually through the use of their individual spiritual gifts within the context of holy and righteous relationships is the foundation for mutual encouragement and accountability between the members of the Lord’s ekklesia. Therefore, when and wherever true believers meet, they should do so, first, to worship and praise God, and then, secondly, to reach inwardly for the personal power, authority, and spiritual gifts they need to reach outwardly to others, which means they would be ministering not only to their brothers and sisters in Christ (saved people) but also to the unsaved world.
The Divine Truth is that our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, ministered to repentant and unrepentant people. For this reason, God “called out” every born again, saved, justified, and being sanctified believer so that the Lord could assemble each of them together into ONE spiritual body by perfectly fitting each of them in place (in an assembly or ekklesia that is located in different global cities, countries, and continents), and according to each individual’s spiritual gifts and his or her assigned function (e.g., apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, and so forth). God confirms these statements in Apostle Paul epistles. The apostle writes:
And Christ gave gifts to people—he made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people. Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. ~ Ephesians 4:11-12, NCV
…Speaking the truth with love, we will grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love. ~ Ephesians 4:15-16, NCV
A person’s body is one thing, but it has many parts. Though there are many parts to a body, all those parts make only one body. Christ is like that also. Some of us are Jews, and some are Greeks. Some of us are slaves, and some are free. But we were all baptized into one body through one Spirit. And we were all made to share in the one Spirit. …Those parts of the body that seem to be the weaker are really necessary. And the parts of the body we think are less deserving are the parts to which we give the most honor. We give special respect to the parts we want to hide. The more respectable parts of our body need no special care. But God put the body together and gave more honor to the parts that need it so our body would not be divided. God wanted the different parts to care the same for each other. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor. Together you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of that body. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 22-27, NCV
In other words, ONLY Jesus the Christ, who is the Head of His spiritual body of believers, has the unrestricted authority and power to add new believers, daily (cf. Acts 2:47b), to this spiritual body of “called out” Christians. More important, if the spiritual body, like the natural body, were to be separated from its Head, then the spiritual body, like the natural body, would be a lifeless body. On the other hand, whatever the Head owns, His spiritual body also owns; thus, if Jesus the Christ, who is the Head of the spiritual body of believers, has ultimate power and authority, so does every believing member of His spiritual body.
As a result, the united body of believers, we who are under the leadership and Lordship of Jesus the Christ who is our Head, according to the Apostle Paul, are the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way (cf. Ephesians 1:19-23). That is why, as it was in the first century, we 21st century truly born again, saved, justified, and being sanctified believers in Christ could have our worship, praise, thanksgiving, prayer, fellowship, spiritual strength, spiritual growth, and edification needs met, when we gather together with other true believers in public and private places located throughout the entire world.
For these abovementioned reasons, as we, who are the Lord’s added believers, seek to emulate the kind of servanthood that our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ demonstrated, we also should remember that our ministering to others, which is our reaching outwardly, is about more than what we do to and for people. As genuine believers in Christ, our ministering to others predominantly must be about who we are in Christ, as well as who we are becoming, which is more and more like Christ Jesus. Becoming more like our Lord means that, by God’s Grace and the power of His Holy Spirit, we also are gaining more of our Lord’s ministering attributes—His ministering characteristics that help us show our love, compassion, accessibility, approachability, and knowledge about the Gospel’s Truths with those believers and unbelievers who are in need of spiritual, physical, financial, material, communal, familial, emotional, mental, and/or psychological help.
Finally, let us not only develop pure motives for fulfilling our service to others, but also let us act upon those pure motives according to the purposes for which we have been “called” TO God and FOR God. Then too, let us not only acknowledge our God-given duty and role in the spiritual Body of Christ, but also let us understand that there are no lone wolves in said spiritual Body! In essence, we each have our own duty (or duties) to fulfill, and we have our own role (or roles) to play. However, when we either refuse to fulfill our duty (or duties) and/or refuse to play our role(s), or when we respond to our duty (or duties) and to the role(s) we have been given to play in the spiritual Body of Christ with impure motives, we need to know that we not only would be hurting ourselves, but also we would be hurting each other. More important, we would be hurting our Lord!
As Jesus the Christ says:
…Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant. Whoever wants to become first among you must serve the rest of you like a slave. In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people. ~ Matthew 20: 26-28, NCV
So then, the question we repeatedly need to be asking ourselves is: As we minister to our Household of Faith siblings, and minister to the unsaved masses, are we using, to God’s Glory, our positions in the Body of Christ and our spiritual gifts? If ever our answer is NO, then we would need to return to functioning in our assigned offices/positions of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, and so forth, according to the way God meant for us to function. Furthermore, we would need to rediscover the main reason for our spiritual gifts. Certainly, our spiritual gifts are given to us for us to perform a specific ministry function that will glorify Father God and Jesus the Christ. In the end, we must understand that it is by God’s Grace and the power of His Holy Spirit that our humble servanthood—our altruistic display of God-like and Christ-like attributes and characteristics—could ever encourage, enlighten/educate, and strengthen the Body of Christ, as well as satisfy or fulfill the spiritual, physical, financial, material, communal, familial, emotional, mental, and/or psychological needs of unbelievers.