In the Bible, we are not only given the command to serve God but we are also given reasons why we should serve Him. Understanding these reasons motivates our service.
The fact that we should serve God is obvious in Scripture (see Luke 4:8). Why we should want to serve God is a more difficult question. Every Christian asked might have a different reason for serving God; different people are motivated by different things. However, the Bible does make clear that, when a person is in a real relationship with God, he will serve God. We should want to serve God because we know Him; an inherent part of knowing Him is a desire to serve Him.
It’s always been God’s intention to make us like His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:29). When we look at Jesus’ life, there’s no denying that He was a servant. Jesus’ entire life was centered on serving God—by teaching, healing, and proclaiming the Kingdom (Matthew 4:23). He came not “to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Then, on the night of His arrest, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, leaving them with a final teaching to serve one another: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (see John 13:12–17). So, if Jesus is all about serving, and God wants to make us like Him, then it’s pretty obvious that we should be all about serving as well.
Genuine service cannot be separated from love. We can go through the motions of serving God, but if our hearts are not in it we’re missing the point. First Corinthians 13 makes it clear that, unless our service is rooted in love, it’s meaningless. Serving God out of a sense of obligation or duty, apart from love for God, is not what He desires. Rather, serving God should be our natural, love-filled response to Him who loved us first (see 1 John 4:9–11).
The apostle Paul is a great example of how having a relationship with God through Christ results in a life of service. Prior to his conversion, Paul persecuted and killed believers, thinking he was serving God. But after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, he immediately devoted the rest of his life to truly serving God by spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Acts 9:20). Paul describes this transformation in 1 Timothy 1:12–14: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Once Paul became aware of the love and grace that God had given him, his response was to serve God.
The Bible offers several motivations for our service. We want to serve God because “we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28), because our service supplies “the needs of the Lord’s people” (2 Corinthians 9:12), because our service proves our faith and causes others to praise God (2 Corinthians 9:13), and because God sees and rewards our labor of love (Hebrews 6:10). Each of these is a good reason to serve God.
We can give away only what we’ve first received. The reason we can love and serve God is that He first loved and served us through Jesus Christ. The more we are aware of and experience God’s love in our own lives, the more prone we are to respond in love by serving Him. If you want to want to serve God, the key is to get to know Him! Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal more of God to you (John 16:13). When we truly know God, who is love (1 John 4:8), our natural response is a desire to love and serve Him in return.
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