Everything we do is in service to something. Much of what we do is in service to ourselves. When we serve ourselves we start with survival followed by any number of things which may include, pleasure, security, ego, greed, control, or simply a need to dominate others. What does it mean to serve God? When we choose to serve God, our focus turns to pleasing Him by following the teachings of Jesus.
John 12:44-45 (NASB)
Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.”
What does it mean to serve God? Serving God is a demonstration of your love for Him through loving service to others. Loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor, as Jesus Christ taught, is the essence of serving God. All service to God is accomplished through the power which He supplies and therefore binds us together with Him.
Our journey toward serving God starts here:
Matthew 22:34-40 (NASB)
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. ’On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
In this one statement Jesus has made serving God very simple: Love God. Love your neighbor.
This concept is expanded further by the apostle Peter.
1 Peter 4:8-11 (NASB)
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In the book of Mark Jesus establishes himself as the ultimate example of what it means to serve God:
Mark 10:43-45 (NASB)
“Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
In the book of John, Jesus tells us the path to serving God is to follow Him:
John 12:26 (NASB)
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
Simply put: we serve God by following the teaching of Jesus.
The foundation of His teaching are these two commandments:
YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.
YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
Once again the Apostle Paul gives us a greater understanding in his letter to the Romans:
Romans 12:9-13 (NASB)
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Finally, this important teaching from Jesus found in the book of Matthew gives us a clear picture of what He expects from us; answering the question, “What does it mean to serve God?”
Matthew 25:35-40 (NASB)
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
The clear message is that when we help others we our serving God.
Jesus continues by making this important comment:
Matthew 25:45 (NASB)
“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
In other words, neglecting any opportunity to serve others is neglecting your relationship with God.
A large part of the Word of God is dedicated to the discussion of service to God. The answer to the question, “What does it mean to serve God,” is best answered by studying the pages of the Bible.
Everything we do is in service to something. You can serve yourself, serve your pursuit of money, serve your pursuit of pleasure, serve your pursuit of power, or you can focus your life on finding ways to serve God. It’s your choice.
Joshua 24:14-15 (NASB)
“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”