To Serve Man

I love the holidays. Ever since I was a kid I have loved this time of the year. I loved it for a few reasons. Obviously, I loved it for spending time with my family and eating and laughing and opening presents, but I also waited all year for one thing. I waited all year for the Twilight Zone marathon. 

My cousins and I would huddle together around my grandparents’ little television in their basement in West Orange, NJ and watch the New Year’s Eve marathon. One episode, a classic, is titled, “To Serve Man.” In this episode, earth is visited by spaceships carrying a large race of aliens called the Kanamits. At first the earthlings are skeptical of these Kanamits, but as they learn more and more, it seems they come in peace. The aliens shared advances in science and technology. They shared farming techniques and showed real care to the inhabitants of earth. They brought with them a book. This book looked like a Bible or a manual of some sort, but it was written in their language so it required government code breakers to determine what it actually was.

This is a a Santa Hat

This is a a Santa Hat

The government specialists finally cracked the code and the title appeared to be, “To Serve Man.” What great news! The Kanamits were there to serve! As time progressed, people were boarding ships to go and visit the Kanamits’ home planet. Of course, it didn’t end up as well as they had hoped. SPOILER ALERT: upon further investigation, a government agent runs towards the ship shouting to a colleague that the book was not titled, “To Serve Man.” The book was titled, “How to Serve Man.” It wasn’t a guidebook for selfless living; it was a cookbook! 

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul outlines different gifts of the Spirit that equip us for an entirely different way of “serving man”. In his letter to the Romans, Paul uses the word Diakonia (dee-ah-kah-nee-ah) which means administration or service; serviceable labor. This is where we get the word Deacon. 

I never thought I had much to contribute. When I heard service, I thought missions or full time ministry. Growing up in the church not feeling like I had anything to give felt awkward. I learned over time that service did not necessarily mean hopping on a plane and jetting over to Zimbabwe to feed orphans or build a hospital. That may be what it means for some of us, but not for all of us. I learned that giving of your time as well as your finances and talents are service as well. I have played worship in corporate gatherings for over seventeen years. I have taught VBS classes, been a day-camp counselor and spent some time among homeless individuals in Florida. Without realizing it, I had been serving through the power of the Holy Spirit!

You may not feel like you are serving, but service does not look the same in everyone. We cannot all be feet and we cannot all be hands. We are not all international missionaries and we are not all called to preach sermons. The same way that there are many gifts but one Spirit, there are many parts but one body. Each of us has a part to play in the body of Christ. If you sit back and consider what Christ is doing in your life, you may find that you are serving in ways that you did not even realize!

The Giving of Time and Talents for God's Glory

If I were to describe my talents I’ve been given in life, I would say I’m the quintessential example of a “Jack of trades, master of none”. In other words, growing up, I tried out everything! I played sports all year round, took up piano lessons at an early age, sang in my high school and church choirs, was academically-minded and took all the honors & AP courses I could. But I can’t say that I was ever the star athlete, the child prodigy at piano, the lead soloist at my school plays, nor was I the valedictorian of my graduating class. 

But that didn’t matter.

These were talents and truly gifts that God had blessed me with over the years. Playing sports allowed me to stay healthy and active and make great friendships. Singing brought me such great enjoyment and allowed me to volunteer in my church choir every Sunday evening. Taking challenging courses allowed me to go to a good college and get the job of my dreams: teaching math! And playing the piano allowed me the opportunity to volunteer to play at church services for many years, and still today I am able to serve at Restore in this capacity! 

I don’t mention these things to sound precocious. By no means! I bring up these things, because, no matter what talents or gifts that God has granted us, the fact is that God has given us all talents and opportunities to serve Him within our communities or even better, right within our church home! In fact, God calls us to use our talents to glorify Him in whatever way we can. We read of God’s will for us in this way in I Corinthians 12:4-11: 

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.        

(1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ESV)

Paul notes, not only are there a variety of God-given gifts amongst his people, but that they are given freely for the common good. We are to use our talents and gifts to help serve others, but most importantly to bring all the Glory to God.

We are blessed in Restore with great leaders and church officers, with a growing children’s ministry, with a group of talented musicians, tech team, clean-up crew, and so much more! Have you asked yourself, how can I use the talents or gifts that I’ve been given to help serve others and to give selflessly of your time? I know that, as busy and hectic as my life can get at times, making time to serve always brings me an inner joy that I can’t explain.

Think about it in this way: if the women and men who volunteer weekly in our children’s ministry didn’t give of their time week by week, then our families with young children would not be able to worship Jesus the way they so freely enjoy. If our worship team didn’t give up a few hours of their Thursday nights and Sunday mornings each week, you wouldn’t be able to shout out with a joyful sound each Sabbath to the music as we so freely do now. If the leaders of our church didn’t oversee every small and large detail of our family of God, our services and ministries would simply cease to exist! If our tech team didn’t show up each Sunday to serve, families who watch Restore via Livestream would no longer have this gift. When you look around church on a Sunday morning, think about the fact that, somebody did this, somebody gave up their time or their talents to make this happen!

How, then, has the Holy Spirit moved you to help serve and use your gifts to serve others for the common good? How are you using your spiritual gifts to bring Glory to our Great God?