Week 8 Lesson: Serving
Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.
1 Peter 4:10 (NET)
This summer my husband and I were able to take a great vacation to the beach, where we stayed at an all-inclusive resort. The service there was unbelievable, the best we had ever experienced! All of those who assisted us, from shuttle drivers to waiters to those who cleaned our rooms, were friendly and helpful; their great attitudes were evident as they interacted with us. They were what we believers should all be if we are to provide the world with glimpses of godliness involved in servanthood.
The Greek word “serve” means to wait upon someone, to attend to someone. It is akin to the word for slave or servant. It has sometimes been translated “minister to”.9
Read Mark 10:35-45.
1. How did Jesus explain his mission in v. 45, and what was he trying to teach his disciples?
Read Phil. 2:5-8. We read this passage several weeks ago but want to look at it again in the context of servanthood.
2. What attitude are we to have toward serving others? How did Jesus model it?
3. How do you feel as you think about what Jesus did to serve you?
Read John 13:1-17.
4. What lesson was Jesus modeling through his actions?
Diamonds in the Word: Read what commentaries say about this passage.
5. Sharing question: Who is most difficult for you to serve? Perhaps, you struggle with serving those who don’t deserve it, or those who have ignored you, or those who are ungrateful and selfish. Maybe someone has hurt you and so you don’t want to serve that person. In this John passage Jesus served the very man whom he knew would betray him within hours. What does that say to you personally about serving that person in your life?
6. Responding to God: Ask God to show you one way to serve another person this week, particularly someone who is hard to love. Write down what he shows you and what you do about it.
This week we will look at more than one Bible character who model serving. Although today’s character is only mentioned briefly, she gives us a great glimpse of what it means to serve.
Read Lk. 2:36-38, and note the context of this story.
7. Why do you think I chose Anna as an example of serving?
8. Sharing question: Put yourself in Anna’s place. What about her service would have been most difficult for you? Why?
9. Read these verses and write down how they encourage you to serve others in prayer:
a. Gal. 6:2
b. Eph. 6:18-20
c. Col. 4:2-4
d. Jam. 5:16-18
10. Sharing question: Look back at the verses in the previous question. What one is most encouraging to you as you think about serving through prayer? Why?
11. Sharing question: Have you considered your prayers as a way to serve others? Or is prayer more of an obligation? Perhaps it is mainly about yourself. If you begin to think of prayer as an opportunity of service, what do you need to change about your prayer life?
Diamonds in the Word: Go to a topical Bible and look up prayer or to a concordance using the words pray or prayer. Look up some of the other New Testament references.
12. Responding to God: Pray for a specific person using the pattern or theme of one of the verses in #9. You may want to pray for a specific missionary, friend, or family member. Write down your prayer and share it with the person for whom you prayed.
Our final Bible character is Priscilla. Like Anna, she isn’t given a lot of space and there is not a nice long story about her. But as a woman, she is a great model of service! I wanted us to finish our study with some women, particularly as we think about how we can serve as women.
Read Acts 18:1-3.
13. What do you learn about Priscilla’s background and career?
14. How did Priscilla serve in the early days of her acquaintance with Paul (v.3)?
15. What else do you learn about Priscilla’s service from Rom. 16:3-5? How did she fulfill the commands to serve in Heb. 13:2 and 1 Peter 4:9?
Diamonds in the Word: What other Bible characters can you remember who served this way? Look her/him up in your concordance and read the story.
16. Sharing question: Since hospitality is a necessity rather than an option based on Heb. 13:2 and 1 Pet. 4:9, what do you need to do specifically to obey God’s word? What is one way you can show hospitality to God’s people?
17. Responding to God: If you aren’t inviting others to your home, what is keeping you from fulfilling the mandate to show hospitality? Is it fear of what others will think about your home or your housekeeping or cooking? What did you learn about fear and faith in the lessons on obedience and courage that apply to this situation? Talk to God about your failure to trust him in this area of obedience. If you are inviting others to your home, ask God to show you a specific person, couple, or family who needs your hospitality. Write down your prayer below.
We complete our study of Priscilla today. I hope you enjoy getting to know a bit about her.
Read Acts 18:24-26.
Diamonds in the Word: Look up these verses in any resources available to you for more information about Apollos and the error of his teaching.
18. How did Priscilla serve in this situation?
Scholars have been intrigued with the fact that Priscilla’s name is mentioned first before Aquila’s in this context and most of the references to them. In that day the more prominent person was mentioned first. Some would say that she was the primary teacher in the situation because of this priority given her in this specific passage. Either way, we see a woman using her spiritual giftedness to serve the body of Christ.
19. Look up these verses and write down your insights about using your spiritual gift(s):
a. 1 Cor. 12:4-7
b. Rom. 12:4-6a
c. Eph. 4:11-13
d. 1 Pet. 4:9-11 (includes our memory verse)
20. Sharing question: Share one story of how you have served others through your spiritual gift. (There are talents that are not spiritual gifts, such as musical or artistic abilities. We are looking for a gift used for God’s glory given at the time of your salvation. There are lists of such gifts in the contexts of the verses in the previous question: 1 Cor. 12:8-11, 28-30, Rom. 12:6-8, Eph. 4:11-12. Although these may not be comprehensive lists, consider these as the ones to use in answering this question.)
21. Responding to God: Ask God to show you how you are to use your spiritual gift in your local church so that the body there is not missing a limb or a hand! If you are already serving, thank God for already putting you in that place where you fit exactly. Write down your thoughts.
Because we will take time to review tomorrow, let’s go ahead and read our story and application for moms before we forget that we are studying serving! I appreciate Kay S’s willingness to be so transparent with us about the difficulties of service. We can all relate whether we serve with children, on a mission trip, or in our homes in prayer. True service always involves sacrifice of some kind, and our flesh revolts against it!
Serving others comes very naturally for some people. God has given many of His children the spiritual gifts of helps and mercy. For such people serving others can be an almost automatic response. I do not have either the gift of helps or mercy. Serving others is not an automatic response for me, yet the Lord has chosen to put me into life situations where He can teach me what it means to serve.
Twice in my life God has called my husband, Terry, and me to serve in an overseas ministry. We lived in Moscow, Russia from 1991-1995 and currently we are living in New Delhi, India. India is a colorful, diverse, interesting, crowded, dirty and noisy country. The people can be gracious and brutish at the same time. Daily life here is much more labor intensive than in the States and is FULL of what Americans would see as inconveniences. We have gone for hours without electricity, been caught in the torrential downpours of what is called “monsoon” and had no water in our flat. We have had to sit patiently in our taxi waiting for cattle to cross the busy highway on which we are traveling or zigzag to make sure we don’t hit the occasional donkey wandering down the middle of the road. I buy our fresh produce at a market that swarms with flies and have to double check it for worms and insects once I get it home. When we lived in Moscow, we went as a family of four. Now, our children, now grown, are living in Texas. I miss them terribly. I miss our dog. I miss the independence of getting in my car and going where I want to go. I miss being able to open my mouth and knowing that what I say will be understood when I speak. There have been days when I have shamefully looked up at heaven and said to the Lord,” I can’t handle this. Let these people die without Christ. I don’t owe them the price I’m paying to live here.” It is at those times that the Lord has firmly reminded me what serving others is truly about. It is purely and simply serving Jesus Christ. Serving the people of India will never be enough motivation for me to stay in Delhi. Serving my gracious, loving, merciful and powerful Savior is.
Ultimately, the focus of our service is Christ and the strength to serve is from His Spirit. “…if anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11 NIV).
We looked this week at women who served – especially in the areas of prayer, hospitality, and spiritual gifts. Anna, a widow for many years, served at the temple day and night with her prayers and fasting. Priscilla and her husband Aquila served by being hospitable and allowing Paul to stay with them. Priscilla also served with Aquila as they took Apollos aside to explain the way of God to him more accurately. These women point the way for us as moms to serve the Lord both in ways that we consider, such as prayer, teaching, and using our spiritual gifts and in other ways such as opening up our home and being hospitable.
This is good news for us as moms. I used to hear sermons or testimonies that encouraged people to witness for Christ outside of the home. Most witnessing training with which I have been involved used workbooks or pamphlets and a program to share Christ in the marketplace rather than in the home. As a mom at home with young children, I could not identify with these testimonies and programs very well. I like being reminded that Priscilla used her home and her hospitality in order to support Paul’s ministry, to teach and encourage Apollos, and to host a house church.
On a mission trip to Ukraine and Russia, I experienced hospitality and saw the changed lives which resulted from one woman’s using her home and her gift of hospitality to win people to Christ. She invited widows, orphans, and others to come to her home, sit at her dining room table, and feel loved by someone who knows Christ. She invited so many to her home that others in her building tried to limit access to the building! The widows she reached are following her example and are bringing others to Christ. When I taught at the church in Kiev, I learned that a woman in my group had been brought by a widow who found her sitting on a park bench crying because she had lost her husband. The widow who knew Christ invited her to experience the fellowship of believers.
Someone I know well was drawn to the Lord after being invited to meals and special occasions in the home of a Christian family. Now she is using that same model to reach out to those in her family who do not know Christ. Her family is being drawn to Christ by experiencing the fellowship and love of those who already know Him.
I am convicted as I look at this lesson and as I write this. I want my home to look like Southern Living before I have people over. I want the meal to be perfect before I can be hospitable. I have a long list of excuses for why I cannot do things that are difficult for me. What about you? Are you using hospitality to draw others to Christ? Do you have a list like mine that you need to tear up so that you can be more hospitable?
Proverbs 31:20, 27
She extends her hand to the poor,
And reaches out her hand to the needy.
She watches over the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Action Step: Involve your children in a service project. Participate in one through your church or start your own family service project. Make this a “hands on” learning experience and pray that as you reach out to others your children will experience the joy of serving. Jot down your ideas here.
Today is your last day of study. I hope you can rejoice at what God has done in your life and the lives of your small group. We will review what he has done today!
22. Sharing question: Go back to the Table of Contents and review the list of godly qualities. Which lesson has been most meaningful in your life this semester? Why?
23. Sharing question: Review the characters that exemplified each of those qualities. If you can’t remember some of them, turn to the lessons to jog your memory. Which is your favorite character? Why?
215. Sharing question: Review your memory verses. You may now know them all; you may have learned some of them; or you may have skipped that part of your weekly assignment. Which verse is most meaningful to you? Why? If you haven’t learned it, memorize this one verse.
24. Sharing question: If someone were to ask you what God has been teaching you as you have done this study, what would your answer be?
25. Responding to God: Take time to thank God for what he has been doing in your life these past few weeks. Talk to him about the courage to share that with the large group during our final meeting.
I pray that you have been blessed and that you have grown as a woman who reveals glimpses of godliness in your life. May we all show forth what God is like to the world around us.
9 Strong’s #1247.