Girlfriends in God - Mar. 28, 2012

March 28, 2012
Service With a Smile
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Friend to Friend
The last thing I usually want to do is serve someone who is hard to get along with and rubs me the wrong way. In fact, the way I figure it, they should be the one serving me in order to make up for all of the grief they have caused. Sandpaper people are hard to serve and hard to help because they rarely, if ever, think of themselves as someone in need. The needs of others are not high on their priority list. Control and power are at the top. To manipulate is to succeed. Sandpaper people honestly believe that the world does or should revolve around them. It doesn’t seem to matter if the audience is applauding or jeering. Either way, they win.     

When we dare to serve a sandpaper person, it rocks their world. They are so accustomed to scratching and clawing their way to a false and shallow acceptance and find it almost impossible to believe that anyone would ever be willing to serve them in any way. That kind of chosen love is foreign to them but it certainly grabs their attention.  It is after we have loved and served the sandpaper people in our lives that we begin to see them with different eyes. 

“Devotion” indicates commitment and duty and carries the idea of a constant faithfulness that deliberately chooses repeatedly to serve. To “honor” someone means to “prefer” him or her or regard them as more important than ourselves. Most sandpaper people are used to people preferring that they disappear. I am convinced if we learned to look past the irritating antics of sandpaper people and simply love them or “prefer” them, a transformation would begin. 

In the book of Philippians, Paul explains when we are serving others we are doing what Jesus did. 

Philippians 2:1-5 “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.”

Paul is telling us that when we choose to love and serve others, especially those who are unlovable and difficult, we choose to have the same attitude that Jesus had. I believe the greatest hindrance to serving others is pride

Someone once told me, “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.” I once heard a missionary tell how he was trying to do translation work in a particular tribe. He was finding it very difficult to translate the word “pride” or at least the concept. Finally, he came up with the idea to use their words for the ears being too far apart. In other words, he conveyed the idea of an “inflated head” which is probably hard to improve on when we talk about the problem of pride.

When our head is filled with thoughts of self, when our hearts are determined to love ourselves before others or when we serve only for the applause of men, we will become arrogant and our service becomes an offense to God. Micah 6:8 outlines the good things God wants to see in us, “The Lord has told you what is good. He has told you what he wants from you: Do what is right to other people. Love being kind to others and live humbly, trusting your God.”  Peter Marshall, the great Bible teacher, once prayed, "Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change and when we are right, make us easy to live with.”

Corrie Ten Boom, a dynamic Christian and survivor of German prison camps, loved to tell the story about a proud woodpecker who was tapping away at a dead tree when the sky unexpectedly turned black and the thunder began to roll. Undaunted, he went right on working. Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the old tree, splintering it into hundreds of pieces. Startled but unhurt, the haughty bird flew off, screeching to his feathered friends, "Hey, everyone, look what I did! Look what I did!"

That old woodpecker reminds me of people who think more highly of themselves than they should. Usually they are so busy bragging about their achievements and their greatness that they fail to recognize God as the source of all their abilities or the needs of others. They are suffering from spiritual delusions of grandeur, and I am often right there with them. Without the Lord, no one amounts to anything, and in our own strength, we cannot please Him. “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.” (1 Peter 5:6) We are never more like our Father than when we lay aside our pride to love the unlovable by serving them.

Let’s Pray
Father, when I let pride take up residence in my heart, I can be so blind to the needs of others, especially those who are more difficult to love. I am so thankful that You did not feel that way toward me, one of the most difficult people of all to love. I praise You for the grace and love You have given me. Help me to be an instrument of that love and grace in the lives of those around me. 
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Take a few minutes to think about the people in your life – family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.

List two people who are easy to love and serve.
Name one way you can serve these people in the name of Jesus.
Determine how and when you can serve them.  Be specific.

List two people who are difficult to love and serve.
Name one way you can serve these people in the name of Jesus.
Determine how and when you can serve the.  Be specific.

Compare the two experiences. 
From which one did you learn the most? 
Which one forced you to rely upon God’s power the most? 
What one truth did you gain through these two experiences?

More from the Girlfriends
If I am not careful, I automatically gravitate to those who are easy to love and easy to serve.  I have to remind myself that Jesus Christ came for broken people like me.  I am not always easy to love and am prone to reject service because “I can do it myself.”  Sound familiar?  Today, choose to love and serve those difficult people in your path.  When someone loves and wants to serve you, accept that love and service in Jesus’ name, as a gift from God’s hand.  Be blessed. 

Need help?  Check out Mary’s MP3, Getting Good at Being Youand learn how to manage emotions, instead of allowing them to manage you. 

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Originally published Wednesday, 28 March 2012.