Writing Sample 4: Family Devotional

Day Five: Serve

Practice Memory Verse

Read or listen to scripture together as a family:

Romans 12-13

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another. And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.

Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers. The night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near. So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light. Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.

Read devotional as a family:

Now that we’ve gone through the origin of the extra mile and explored gospel requirements for living an impactful, “extra mile” life, it’s time to see it all in action. Romans 12-13 give direction for the life of a believer. If you read through the chapters as a whole, before stopping to reflect on each concept, you can see the reflection the message has on the Sermon on the Mount. All those overwhelming laws ultimately hindering on a real love for God and others is not so insurmountable. Now that we are free in Christ, we can do the impossible. We can have a love that is genuine. We can live in harmony with one another. We can be generous, merciful, zealous, and cheerful in our work because we are operating out of the power of the Holy Spirit and no longer our dark brokenness.

When God leads us to a point of action, the purpose is to lead people to the gospel of Christ. It’s not simply to do a good act. If we rely on our works to please God, the result will feel empty. If we go into service with a wrong heart, there is no difference between a believer going out and serving versus a group of unbelievers doing some humanitarian effort.

Contributions of our own strength come inherently from a wrong place. We can do a mission trip or service project every year and have it be as fruitless as all the rules the Pharisees and scribes were accomplishing each year in the synagogues. If we’re doing anything to win favor with God or accomplish a statistic to share back at home or with a church congregation, we’ve already lost the point.

We need to serve as a compulsion to live out the gratefulness and freedom we are already experiencing in Christ. Service should derive from a desire to tell people about the free gift of salvation. It’s to make God known to the world – starting with our families and rolling out into our community.

The greatest gift you could give yourself everyday is remembering what you’ve been forgiven of and walking into your day with that freedom. Enjoy your life and serve others because Christ served you. What a gift to have the capacity to love and serve people wherever you go!

Service projects may seem like a nice bullet point to your resume for college or something worthy to tell your coworkers, but it’s much more than that. As God uses us as instruments of righteousness, we leave traces of light where we serve. The mowing of a lawn in a low income neighborhood prevents crime and brings a feeling of safety to a street. That’s God’s light.

Serving an established ministry in town and acknowledging a group of kids that usually go under the radar of society is a Christian act. People matter to God. Therefore, people matter to us. We may only spend a couple of hours with a kid, but that could have a transformational impact on their life. To know they are valued can prevent them from doing something life damaging to themselves or someone else in the future. True Christian influence makes a difference in community. Our mission has eternal value and that speaks louder than any mere humanitarian effort.

We, as Christians, bring morality into humanity. We work for a higher power that keeps us accountable for our actions. We don’t do corrupt business. We are generous with our money and give the poor an opportunity to have dignity. We create jobs for them so that they can be responsible and work hard for their families.

People aren’t stupid. They know when you really care. They know when you’re being genuine and when you’re checking off a box. If you’re serving the community this summer, what’s the motivation? If your desire to serve is not coming from an overflow of your heart, you may need to pause and review days 2-4 of this study. It’s not wrong to feel unmotivated. Don’t feel guilty for not being where people say you “should be” with your faith. Just take a look at the reality of your situation. It’s important. Where are you with your personal walk with God? Do you believe? Do you recognize your depravity? Do you acknowledge you need forgiveness? Have you felt the relief of knowing your sins will not be counted against you? Do you have a desire to share your freedom with others?

When we go out and serve, when we connect with the world, we are loving our enemies. The world hates us for our belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven. We serve them anyways, because we know they need to see and hear the truth of God. We know this, because we have lived it.

Discussion:

  • How do you each naturally serve?
  • Do you see the value in serving? What’s the point?
  • Should someone serve if they have not experienced the relief and gratitude that comes with God’s grace? Why or why not?

End of Sample

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