To Serve or Be Served

Do you consume or contribute?

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. 1 Peter 4:10–11 (NLT)

I didn’t receive an allowance growing up. (Full disclosure: there was one summer my dad paid me three dollars to mow the front yard, but since I couldn’t even purchase an eight-count nugget meal from Chick-fil-A with it, in my humble but right opinion, it doesn’t count.) And while I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with giving your children an allotted amount of money for doing chores around the home, it was not part of the Lewis family value system. I can only conclude that my parents felt my siblings and I should wash the dishes and keep our rooms clean—not because of payment, but because we were part of the family. Though I would not have been able to articulate it this way, I inherently understood members of the Lewis family not only consumed but also contributed. 

The Bible tells us that as believers, we’re part of the body of Christ and the family of God. In 1 Peter, the apostle begins this letter declaring his audience to be the elect, the chosen, or, very simply, the family of God. In chapter four (in the verse listed above), he challenges them: “God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” The idea here is clear. We have all been graciously gifted by God, and we are called to use our gifts not for ourselves but to serve others. In doing so, we bring glory to God.

I believe our gifts are like napkins. A napkin can be placed in two areas: the collar of your shirt, which proclaims, “Feed and serve me,” or on your arm, which declares, “I am here to serve you.” Likewise, depending on the posture of our hearts, our gifts are either a tool for selfishness or a tool to serve others. 

Belonging to the family of God means we are always invited to the Father’s table to eat and consume; however, because we are members of His Body, we should be equally motivated to serve and contribute. The concluding question we should pause and ponder is where will I place my napkin today?

Jelani Lewis is a Masters of Organizational Leadership student at The King’s University.

Originally published in Gateway Church’s Created to Be devotional.