Boundaries of Service

Numbers 32:16–22, Matthew 3:13–17, John 13:1–17, 2 Corinthians 5:14–17

Service takes many forms. We are often tied into our mind’s understanding of service, and thus become blind to what service can look like. In the case of Reubenites and Gadites, their service took place in the form of aiding their fellow Israelites to secure the Promised Land. The Reubenites and Gadites would have to trust that their families and livestock would be safe while they were away. There was no guarantee that they would return nor when. We would not normally view this as service, but it is, for they put their own interests (and the concern’s for their families) beneath the needs of others.

Often the biggest issue to service is not the task, but ourselves. We put ourselves before others. This is not to say that we need to be floor mats. Nor does this mean that we must serve where we do not feel called. The issue is when we are called and we choose not to respond because it is not convenient. Or we choose to not respond because it must be someone else’s responsibility. Or we choose to not respond because we might fail.

Sometimes we think we aren’t serving because it is the “right” thing to do. When Jesus convinced John the Baptist to baptize him, it wasn’t that Jesus needed to be baptized for his salvation, but to show others what the right way to begin is. He could have been the prideful type, saying that it was below his station (even though he would have been correct). He could have commanded John the Baptist, but instead requested that it be “allowed” which gave John the Baptist a say and also recognized his calling as the last Old Testament prophet.

When we come to the washing of the feet at the Last Supper, we say Jesus made himself a servant (which he was). However, he was leading foremost by example. As the “host” of the dinner, he made sure that his “guests” were cared for. However, when Peter went further than appropriate (“wash all of me”), Jesus did draw a line. Yet, often we say, “Jesus did this,” and fail to follow that with, “and so should I.”

Paul reminds us of this call, when he writes, “…those who live should no longer live for themselves…” We are all guilty of living for ourselves. It is not to say that there are no healthy boundaries. It is just that what we often call “healthy” boundaries are not Jesus boundaries. The “healthy” boundaries of the world are for the selfish, sinful, fallen, unredeemed person, not of “…the one who died for them and was raised.”

1) Whose boundaries are you using to define your service, the world’s or Jesus’?

2) Do you continually pray how you may better serve “…the one who died for [you] and was raised?”

3) What is one new way that you can serve this week?