“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6.
This last week an opportunity to visit my parents arose. I took it. I’m so glad I did, too. With my daughter at camp and my husband and son at work, I headed back to my roots in East Texas to spend time with my parents.
My parents are good people; not perfect, but they are definitely good people who concerned about the welfare of mankind and the application of God’s word. They weave serving God through giving to and helping others into their daily lives.
While I was there, we visited a sick friend in the hospital, talked and brainstormed over various situations in their community they were trying to assist in and then, on my last day they handed me check for a mission project my husband and I are currently working on. There isn’t a time I visit where they are not serving in some capacity or have people calling them asking for help. Acts of love are consistently distributed along the path they travel.
I remember in college taking labs with my science classes. I loved labs because I’m a hands on learner. Labs are the application part of science courses, where I put into practice what I learned from the lecture. Being in God’s service is kind of like a lab. I go to church for the lecture part and then I’m supposed to go out in the world for the application part. If I miss the application, like a lab, I miss the purpose for the lecture.
It’s a humbling thought, really, that causes me to ask, “What are my worship actions” and “where do I apply what I’m learning from scripture?”
I’ve heard many times from people I’ve tried to encourage to get involved at church and community that they have served and their season of serving is done. While I agree there are seasons of rest and restoration, there are also seasons of jumping back into life. I’m so proud of my parents for staying involved. At seventy four and seventy seven they serve more than most people who are younger than them. Yes, in retirement they have time, but even during the business of raising kids and working full time jobs, they made time; purely by making God a priority and placing other things aside. Making difficult decisions with the light of God’s word. Application. It is an example of authentic faith for me to follow. I am grateful to have it.
I keep thinking of this verse in Titus. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” Titus 2:6. This verse is challenging, as we live in times where every word out of our mouth is disputed; it seems every statement is scrutinized. Even in this world, though, it is hard to condemn love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
Every parent has antidotes they tell their children. One of ours at Thorntonville is “If you aren’t living in such a way to draw people closer to Christ, you are living in such a way to lead them away from Christ.” It’s sometimes a difficult concept to swallow. It is however a necessary concept to keep me in check with where I am walking. Often I look up after a stagnant season of little God time and service to realize I’m way off the path with my language and attitude. I have to ask for forgiveness and directions back to the path God wants me on.
Serving may at times be inconvenient causing me to make cut backs on entertainment or readjusting schedules. Sometimes I end up serving in an area where my attitude is constantly bad; I have to evaluate what is causing my bad attitude. Is it all me, or am I needing to adjust my area of service? Either could be true. Over booking and exhaustion also have to be evaluated. Sometimes as we grow in Christ, He strengthens our passions in different areas, but we fail to let go of previous positions. This not only blocks others of the opportunities to serve, it causes us to become weary and tired, forming attitudes of judgement and discouragement towards others.
When service is good, kindhearted with attitude in check the rewards dominate the heart. Like when the preschoolers my dad reads to weekly, made him a t-shirt with their hand prints all over it eager to show their appreciation for the time he spends with them. Or when the child you’ve been praying for and encouraging in Sunday school accepts Christ. Or when the teen you’ve been mentoring to help others, steps out and actually does so, by using their money to pay for another’s lunch because it’s the last week of school and the other student’s lunch account was empty. Or when a lady who took a class you taught one semester whose child is dying calls you to pour out her heart because she knows she can trust you and you’re just honored to be able to help bear the burden by listening. Or… the list goes on.
Rewards so touching that they stand as constant reminders of why I serve.
God is love. Through example, I’ve learned serving is love in action. I want to be part of that.