Editor’s note: CTA offers a number of tools (many of them FREE) and all designed to help you invite volunteers and encourage them in their service. This week’s devotion grows out of those materials and can be used with several of them. Check them out!
I am going to say the first two words of a phrase, and I want to you complete the phrase. Okay?
Ready . . . Set . . . (Allow listeners to respond “Go”; gesture and repeat yourself as necessary until you get the enthusiastic response you want.)
Could you imagine a race where the official with the starting pistol said only, “Ready” and “Set”? The race would never happen! The runners would be left crouching in their starting blocks.
Let’s try another one. Lights . . . Camera . . . (Allow listeners to respond “Action.”)
Right! A movie would never make it to the screen if the director only said, “Lights” and “Camera.”
We want our lives to be lives of action. If we read a recipe and buy ingredients but never cook the food, we will go hungry! If we think about getting the oil changed, but never drive to the Quick Lube, our cars will break down! We can have the best intentions in the world, but without action, that’s all we have — our good intentions.
Getting to the Heart
You here today are people of action. Through the leaders here at (name your church or organization), you have heard God’s call to serve, and you have stepped up to accept the challenge, the call to action. Maybe you have been intending to volunteer for a while. Maybe you love to volunteer. Maybe you never thought in a million years that you would give your time in service. But here you all are. People of action. People of faith.
Jesus talked about faith in action. Two days before his entry into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and ultimately suffer and die for us, he spoke to his disciples on the Mount of Olives.
He spoke about signs of the end of the age, but also spoke about the lives of faithful disciples. Listen! (Read Matthew 25:35-40).
Faith in action. Service with no thought of reward. If you notice, “the righteous” in verse 37 are confused! They never saw the King hungry or thirsty or in need of a friend or of clothing. They simply acted out of the grace they had been given. They served as the King had served them. They served those around them with no regard for recognition or reward. In selflessly serving others, the righteous had, in fact, been serving the King.
Matthew 25 challenges us. The kind of service Jesus describes is never easy. We work really hard. No one understands how difficult it is to do what we do. Sometimes it seems that no one appreciates our work or our sacrifice. Truth be told, we sometimes do want the recognition! We do expect a reward—and not just in heaven, but right here now on earth!
Matthew 25 challenges us because sometimes we want to ignore the call to service altogether. We’d rather sleep in on the weekend or go right home after work instead of serving. “I’ll sign up next time,” we say to ourselves. Or, “I’m too busy to add one more thing to my plate.”
Matthew 25 challenges us because often Satan tries to convince us that our service simply isn’t having the impact we thought it would. We think things like this: “I volunteered to make a difference in people’s lives. I just don’t see any fruit. I quit.”
Do you recognize yourself in these descriptions? I know I do! How beautiful, then, that we have a God who forgives our selfishness and our bad attitudes. Because of Jesus’ life and his death on the cross, all our negative attitudes, all our selfishness and our excuse-making have been washed away. In Jesus’ resurrection, we have victory over sin, death, and the devil. We have the freedom to serve the least of these our brothers and sisters – and to serve them joyfully. We have the freedom to live out our faith in service to others.
Taking it Home
For Welcoming New Volunteers – We are thankful that you are a walking example of faith in action. We praise God for your willing spirit to serve. God has given you gifts and abilities and we are excited to work with you as we serve Jesus by serving his children. Please take one of (name the item you are distributing) as a reminder of all this as you serve our King Jesus!
For Encouraging Volunteers – We praise God that you have been serving with us. We know it’s not always easy and it’s not always fun. But sometimes it is! Thank you for continuing to be examples of faith in action. Because God is blessing it, the work you do makes a difference. It really does! Please take one of (name the item you are distributing) as a reminder that you are serving the Lord Christ!
For Thanking Volunteers – We praise God that you have been a shining example of faith in action. Your work and service among us have been invaluable. Thank you for volunteering your time and talents. Please take one of (name the item you are distributing) as a reminder that you have shared God’s love through Jesus in marvelous ways, and we are grateful.
Dear Christ our King, thank you for creating us, loving us, and coming to earth to die for us. Thank you for the opportunities we have to serve others, especially the least of these, your brothers and sisters – and ours. Thank you for putting people in our path with whom we can share your Gospel message. Send your Holy Spirit to encourage us in our work and bless the efforts of our hands. Amen.
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