Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French servise, from Latin servitium condition of a slave, body of slaves, from servusslave, 13th century.
synonyms: help, use, benefit
Definition: contribution to the welfare of others
There is something extra-ordinary about serving others. Doing something for another person blesses both the giver and the receiver. It is more than karma, it is the power of two people connecting in ways that brings out good qualities in each. There have been books written about this magical feedback loop, presenting the idea separate of any religious theories. They state that service will benefit a person regardless of the religious views attached to it. I believe this is true, but it is incomplete. I believe service is most illuminated and best understood when viewed in light of the greatest act of service ever performed: the eternal saving atonement of Jesus Christ.
Christ is our ultimate exemplar in service. In every parable, every action, every sermon, He taught us about service through words and action. It then is no surprise that this time of year, when we celebrate Christ’s birth, we are encouraged to serve; and we willingly do so more than any other time of the year.
I enjoy serving others, I get a kind of high from doing it. It’s not about being better than another person, it’s not only about platitudes, it’s not just about physical needs. It can be about lifting a person. Sometimes it helps a person realize that they are of worth, if another person sacrifices to come to their aid. It is the way in which God connects us, brothers and sisters, to each other and in the process, to Him.
In high school I gained an exuberant spirit for service. There was a time where I challenged myself to serve another person every day. This challenge created wonderful experiences that I still remember. One is a service project I participated in with other teenagers. It took place around the holidays and was called “The Basket Project.” We divided into groups and took a humble (AKA- puny) basket of fruits and nuts to people who might be lonely. While there we sang a song or two, made conversation (as only awkward and rowdy teenagers can) and left with a prayer. The activity culminated in a group testimony meeting, where we shared the feelings and experiences we had during our visits. It was a moving spiritual experience for me every time, often moving me to tears. Eventually my daily service challenge wore out, but I kept the general belief that it is good to serve others daily.
Now my daily life is much different. If I didn’t serve others daily I could get hauled into court for child neglect. It is the life I chose, I completely take responsibility for it, and I knew going in what it would entail (in a very general way). I see now that my service experiences as a teenager were just toe dips into the large pool of Christ-like, self-less service that I now swim in daily. I don’t go around telling others about the service I perform, it’s more enjoyable to do it than to talk about it. Every single day I serve until I fall into bed exhausted.
Our governments and communities are at their best when we willingly serve. Most, if not all, religions encourage service. As important as service is, it alone cannot save another person. We cannot do everything necessary to make someone else happy, healthy, and saved. There is a level of personal responsibility needed for a person to enjoy the best qualities of life. When a person is doing what they can for themselves, and then add to that the grace, mercy, and power of Christ, they can, over time, secure those sought after qualities of happiness, well-being and salvation. No one else can fully give or force those things upon another.
The illuminated service I spoke about earlier wisely takes into account the need for every person to ultimately rely on more than human service. We must rely on a higher power. We cannot rely on the arm of the flesh, it will fail us. Christ is our constant companion, ever faithful, ever wise, always serving and saving. It is a blessing in my life to serve Him as I serve others.
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