For over 40 years I have been involved with “the ministry” of Jesus Christ in one way or another. I have held formal positions of leadership and labored in obscurity. I have stood before thousands and lived a thousand days without standing before anyone.
Supposedly, I was someone who understood love. God knows that in my heart I did want to understand what love is, but He also knows how flawed I was in that understanding and how deceived I became because of it.
I remember distinctly a wise man sitting me down one day, looking me in the eye and telling me that I had to cease trying to play God to everyone. I had fallen into the trap of thinking love meant doing everything for everyone. In reality, all I was doing was providing people with a crutch and wearing myself out.
For years I tried to be everyone’s friend, confidant and surrogate father, brother, son or husband. In my warped definition of love, I thought I was supposed to be all things to all people in the sense of literally trying to be those things.
The enemy is sly and constantly looking for situations to exploit. He watched me and saw that I had fallen into the vulnerable position of either getting hurt by people rejecting me or sucked into things that would in due time devour me. I ended up suffering both humiliating consequences due to my immaturity and stupidity.
My mother was a nurse and used to lecture me about not getting too involved in people’s lives and problems. She told me of times when either she or another medical person would cross the line and become emotionally too close to a patient. When the patient died, the medical person became a mess and could not help anyone. In fact, they ended up being the one needing help.
Love is not becoming so emotionally intertwined with another person’s problems that you end up being a part of the problem. Love is not trying to be someone you are not or do things you cannot do. It does no good to become so deeply involved with another that you lose your objectivity and ability to speak the truth in love.
History is littered with accounts of people, who upon seeing another in distress jumped into the dangerous situation to rescue them. Soon there were two people who needed to be rescued. A drowning person is very adept at drowning the person trying to save them due to panic and fear. Of course we are to help, but we need to help the way God says and not the way our emotions lead us.
I thank God that over the past decade of my life, I have finally learned what the word “service” really means to a Christian. I have learned that manifesting the love of God is not an event marked with fireworks or parades but rather a labor of love performed by one heart in love with God reaching out to another who is broken and in need.
Love is not dying with someone so they have company but rather reaching out to help them get out of the situation trying to destroy them. Love is not merely being someone’s “friend” but rather being strong enough to speak the truth in love, do whatever is needed to honestly help someone and not being held captive by one’s own insecurities or doubts.
We strive to help others because the love God constrains us to do so. We go out of our way to serve others because Jesus Himself gave us the example to do so. We are willing to labor in the background, expecting and accepting nothing in return just for the joy of service. We love because He first loved us.
Christian service is not about DOING but rather all about GIVING. Christian service is not adding gold stars to one’s report card but rather the compassionate response motivated by love and driven by the passion to help another person avoid disaster or pick up the pieces after a disaster. Christian service is outward compassionate expression of the love of God in one’s heart.