Joy in Service
Today I'm bringing you my last scripture reading plan of 2018. Remember waaaay back at the beginning of 2018 when I promised that each of my subsequent articles for the year would contain a reading plan? The purpose was to keep myself personally accountable to reading scripture because I'd been very inconsistent with it.
The topic of today's reading plan is service. I found scriptures that spotlight many different angles of service, but for this article, I'm going to focus on just one of them: joy in service.
I'm guessing that many of you immediately understand the idea of "joy in service." That's because you've experienced it firsthand. You have memories of cleaning the church building, visiting a homebound brother or sister, or spearheading a church event, and you look back fondly on those acts of service, recognizing that while you were serving others you received a blessing, too.
Then there's the other side of the coin…
Many people closely associate service with some kind of forced assistance in which the weaker person follows the command of a more powerful person. Due to human nature, we don't really want to be the ones serving. We want to be served. There's a hierarchy, and we want to be on top. Jesus turned that hierarchy upside-down when He said that the person who wishes to be the greatest in God's eyes must become a servant.
Abasing myself doesn't exactly sound like fun — so where does the joy come in? But, there's a topsy-turvy nature to joy, too. When we serve God and do His work, we experience joy even if that work isn't something we necessarily want to do, as with the examples I mentioned earlier.
Often, the times when I'm overflowing with the most purpose and peace are the times when I'm fulfilling the job that God has set in front of me. And that job may be disciplining my kids. It may be emptying the waste bin at church. It may be praying with or for someone. God's jobs usually don't involve entertaining or indulging myself, let's put it that way.
But, there's joy in those acts of service — not because these acts are inherently en"joy"able but because they're in God's plan for me. Psalm 40:8 says, "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart."
Sometimes the things that the Lord asks us to do aren't easy. For those times, we have Psalm 126:5-6: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Being a follower of Christ means being a servant of God and my fellow man. Serving is work. Serving often means sacrifice. But Christ also said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light," (Matthew 11:30). This tells me that the difficulties, inconveniences, or persecutions that I encounter in my service to God are joyful blessings in comparison with the severe, long-term difficulties I'd encounter if I were pursuing a life of sin outside His will.
There are so many other ways in which scripture portrays service, and this reading plan covers a lot of them. As you move through the 20 days (or at your own desired pace), you can use the reflection questions to enhance your study, or you can pursue whatever study methods you like best. However you use it, I hope it's a blessing!
Since this is the last reading plan for 2018, below are the links to the previous plans in case you missed them.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.