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Serving Others

Caring for Others

By Jill Briscoe

The words kindness, goodness, and gentleness are all closely allied. Another word for kindness is sevanthood. Love is a servant. Just look at Jesus. Jesus washed feet. Would we?

I remember seeing a movie where a woman was being interviewed for a job. “I don’t do windows,” she said, to no one’s surprise. I think the church is full of people like that. They call themselves servants, but they don’t do windows, or they don’t do feet!

Think about children. How much energy does it take to get them to do their chores? They don’t do windows. The ability to serve to that degree comes with maturity, or it should. Children by nature are not kind and serving creatures. When I was a teacher in Liverpool in a pretty tough school in a tougher neighborhood, teachers were assigned playground duty. We used to call it “vice patrol.” As I took my turns, I was amazed at how cruel those children could be to each other. I saw kids bullying little kids or excluding others or mercilessly teasing them till they were reduced to tears.

Servanthood means doing a practical loving act for someone who needs it—maybe visiting an elderly neighbor who is alone and cooking her a good meal, perhaps pitching in and cleaning up the kitchen after a women’s meeting at church (even if you were the speaker!), or deliberately taking another turn in the nursery even if you’ve done your bit in the past.

Servanthood looks for a way to do the things that are menial. A servant takes out the trash or pours water in a bowl and washes feet (in Jesus’ day this was the job of the lowest level of slaves). Servanthood is helpful all the time, looking to bless, heal, and encourage those less fortunate. Servanthood welcomes the opportunity to be a servant not only when it’s voluntary but also when it’s not an option. 

Maybe some of us need to do some growing up in this area of servanthood. Growing up in the Lord and in His agape love means growing in patience and kindness. Agape love gives you the power to be patient and kind to all sorts of frustrating people. Love suffers all sorts of indignities. In fact, love suffers longer than you think you can. J.B. Phillips paraphrases I Cor. 13:4: “This love of which I speak is low to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive.” That is another way of saying “Love is kind.”


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