Galatians 5:13b “But do not use your freedom to indulge in sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love.”
Last Sunday—the Sunday before Christmas—our family had the privilege of working with our church to serve the homeless of downtown Dallas. In the pre-dawn hours the homeless began to line up on one side of a parking lot, while others mingled around hot coffee on the other side where the weekly outdoor church service and breakfast would be held. The line, I learned, was to get clothes. One shirt and one pair of pants per person. My assignment was to enforce that “one and one” rule. Most people were very respectful of the rule, but then there was one guy who tried to leave with his arms full of clothes. We got him to put a couple things back that clearly would not fit him, but he begged us to let him keep the rest. “Construction workers threw everything I owned over the bridge,” he said. Apparently he had been making his “home” at a nearby construction site. We let him keep the extra clothes.
As the sun rose the church service began. I stood on the side and watched as people began to take their seats on cold metal chairs. One woman caught my attention. As soon as she sat down she started to cry. I slipped into the seat beside her. “Is there something I can pray with you about” I asked. “Yes,” she sobbed. She then began to tell me how child protective services recently took her three children. “All I want to do is tuck them in bed at night” she cried. “I’ve been real good lately. I stopped doing drugs. I don’t know why I lost them” she said. I shared the gospel with her and she told me that she had accepted Christ as Savior several months ago but had stopped going to church because she felt she wasn’t good enough.
Fast forward three days—Christmas Day—and our family found ourselves out early once again, this time to sing Christmas carols at a nursing home during their breakfast hour. We try to do something like this every Christmas that we are in town as one way to model service to our now-teenage children.
That brings us to my quiet time this morning. I read the familiar Galatians 5 passage about the fruit of the Spirit, but what really struck me were the verses leading up to them, particularly verse 13. It seems that many people struggle living by the Spirit because they don’t practice serving others. As I read this verse what came to my mind were the faces of the homeless man who lost his possessions, the woman who lost her children, and the elderly men and women who I talked with in that nursing home. I thanked the Lord for these opportunities to serve them with my family. These service opportunities were different from my normal “ministry” and it helped remind me of the importance of serving others and living by the Spirit, not just at Christmas but all year long.
So what about you? As you think about the upcoming year, how are you planning to serve others in love? You may find that it is much easier to live in the Spirit when you are walking in service to others.
P.S. Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve written a Bible blog! 2013 has been a very busy year for me and our ministry, MaxPoint Missions, with trips to East Africa and assisting with work literally all over the world. In case you haven’t kept up, I would encourage you to visit our website at www.maxpoint.org to see what is going on these days and to sign up for our periodical eNewsletter.