Early in my ministry, it seemed like the trend in student ministry was all about service. You would constantly hear or read old phrases like, “Actions speak louder than words,” or that timeless quote attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi that reads, “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” They were, and still are, powerful thoughts for us to ponder. And those thoughts are even more powerful as we tie them into God’s Word and His call upon us to serve the needs of others. Here are some great examples:
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17)
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:14-18)
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)
The list could go on as we read Scripture and see the heart of our God for “the least of these” and also His desire to see His people being faithful with the time, talent and resources that have been entrusted to them. This is all a good thing. Serving others should be a critical foundation for us as leaders, for our various ministries and for the church as a whole. But with all of that said–and this is crucial–we cannot forget the words. Or more precisely, the Word.
If all we do is just serve, we have become philanthropists and that is not what we are called to be. We have been tasked, if you will, to serve the very real physical and emotional needs of others, but to also share with them the love and truth of Jesus Christ that impacts their very real spiritual need.
The apostle Paul does a phenomenal job of explaining the dire importance of this in Romans 10:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is paramount for us as believers. In both our words and our actions, we should be about living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. We have been blessed, my friends, by what Jesus Christ has done for us and continues to do in us and through us. And as we strive to be more like our Lord and Savior, may it be reflected in both the things we say and do.
When our words and our actions are in agreement, the lives of others are impacted in a way that goes far beyond the here and now.
Published January 2013