Did you know religious people are more likely to give and serve than others? A study by Pew Research Center found “that people who are highly religious are more engaged with their extended families, more likely to volunteer, more involved in their communities and generally happier with the way things are going in their lives.” (According to their survey, highly religious refers to people who pray every day and attend religious services each week.)
It is well established that Christians are more prone to giving and serving (or volunteering) than others. The same study found “roughly two-thirds of highly religious adults (65%) say they have donated money, time or goods to help the poor in the past week, compared with 41% who are less religious.” Think about the groups you see around your town or in the news that are helping others. Many of these groups are religiously-affiliated. These groups began because they felt called to serve and love others.
Considering those involved in Christian ministries around the world, as well as those serving in their home churches, let’s look at the reasons why Christians serve more than those who do not know Christ.
We Serve Because He Served
Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus model serving. Jesus gives us the perfect example of living a life serving others. As Mark 10:45 explains, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Our savior did not come seeking to be served, but instead, He continually served those the world rejected.
He demonstrated humbling oneself and loving others when He chose to wash his disciples’ feet, and the ultimate example, of course, is when He died for our sins. While we must understand no amount of service will lead to our salvation, Christians recognize the reason we serve others is because of all He did to forgive us. It is because of our belief in His love and His great salvation that we love others. John 13:35 tells Jesus’ followers, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” One way we demonstrate our love for one another is by helping to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
We Are All Given Gifts to Use
When it comes to serving others, many Christians hesitate. They equate serving with “high ministry” rather than recognizing God has given us unique gifts. You can serve using the unique gifts He has given you. For example, look at this passage from Romans 12:
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” --Romans 12:6-8
The quiet person who serves in the church nursery is using his gifts. The extroverted person serving on the First Impressions team is using her gifts. The couple welcoming new families into their home for a meal or hosting a Community Group is using their gift of hospitality.
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).”
We Are Parts of the Whole
Along these same lines, it is important to understand that Christianity is not a solo sport. It is the exact opposite. We are part of God’s church. Our membership in God’s church means we each have a unique role to play. According to Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Christ created us with a unique purpose that should be used to bring Him glory.
To reach the lost, we must use our gifts together. Romans 12:4-5 explains, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
When the members of the church work together to point others to Christ, it is a beautiful thing. Working together as part of the whole applies not just to individual churches, but to the big “C” church as well. When churches come together to bring God glory, those who do not know Him will see Him through us.
We Serve to Bring Glory to God
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” We should never serve (or give) for personal recognition or accolades. Instead, when we serve, we should serve humbly. It is through serving others that we will shine a light that will glorify the Lord.
Finally, God isn’t looking for the most successful or most popular person to serve – He is looking for the most willing. We all have gifts we can use to serve Him and serve others. We just need to be willing.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” --1 Peter 4:10