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Serving Without Sinking
May 21, 2013
You may be one of those Christians who serves. And serves. And serves some more. When you head to church on Sunday you are preparing yourself to serve and when you return home you are exhausted. And if you are one of those servant-hearted Christians it may just be that the more you serve, the more you see how so many other Christians serve sparingly and half-heartedly. You may find that it is a challenge to serve Christ and to keep your joy.
Enter Serving Without Sinking by John Hindley. This is a book about happens inside our minds and hearts as we do our acts of Christian service. It is a call away from weariness, discouragement, bitterness and joylessness as we serve. And it does that by pointing us to the greatest Servant of all—the one who came to us not to be served but to serve. “This book isn’t primarily about our service. It’s mainly about Jesus Christ, and about His service. … Jesus does not want you to measure your life by your service of Him. He does not want your service to get in the way of your love for Him. He did not come to be served by you—He came to serve you.” This one truth is remarkably freeing. It frees us from service done to earn or impress or compare and instead allows us to enjoy the ways in which he serves us. But, of course, when we are so loved and so served, we will long to joyfully serve in return.
“When it comes to Christian service, the first place to look is at what is going on in our hearts, not what we are doing with our hands.” For this reason Hindley invests some time in exploring heart motivations that guide our service. He encourages the reader to see that God cares far more about the love behind our deeds than the deeds themselves. And yet we can so often serve out of a wrong view of God or a wrong view of people. We can serve to win God’s favor or we can serve to be seen and praised by men.
Perhaps the book’s most unusual but most helpful application is for the servant-hearted Christian to consider serving less. Some of us serve as if our service is a pillar that holds up the church and as if God’s kingdom is dependent upon our shift in the nursery or our crock pot full of meatballs.
As he explains service, Hindley sets our relationship to God in three contexts: we are friends of the Boss, we are the bride of the King and we are sons of the Father. Each of these relationships helps us understand how we relate to God and how we ought to relate to him through our means of service.
This book is not a call away from service, but a call to the best kind of service—service done with the best of our abilities for the highest of motives.
If your service of Christ has grown grudging (or stopped happening), you don’t need to try to obey more. You need to love more. This means that you don’t need to try harder; you need to ask your Father to send His Spirit to work in your heart to make you more loving. You need Him to work in you so that you can increasingly enjoy the goodness of Jesus, appreciate the service of Jesus, and let Jesus recapture your heart with His love.
As I was reading Serving Without Sinking I found myself in conversations with some of the very people it addresses—people who serve their church and who love to serve, but who are also growing weary. It was a joy to recommend the book to them and I anticipate that it will be a great blessing to them. And to you.
Serving Without Sinking