Dressed to serve in the cold!

Yesterday morning, Black Friday, I was up at 3:00 am but it wasn’t for shopping. No, I crawled out of bed before Starbucks even opened, to participate in a little community service. Twenty-five people from our church arrived at Best Buy just after 4:00 am with 30 gallons of coffee and hot chocolate to serve the hundreds of people who were lined up waiting for the doors to open at five.

A little advance organization prepared us to give-away about 400 cups of hot liquid in 30 minutes. The crowd was a little skeptical at first, but after friendly greetings and assurance that the drinks were indeed free, they gratefully accepted the steaming cups. Many even interacted with us and asked why we were there.

So why were we there? Our goal was simply to serve the community. The Black Friday shopping tradition provides a perfect opportunity. Some of the shoppers had been lined up outside the store since 7 or 8 the night before. For West Texas, it was extremely cold on Thursday night. When I got in my car at 3:30 the thermometer read 19 degrees.

Serving others, without any selfish motives or personal intent, pleases God. Selfless service models the character of Christ. When an argument arose among Jesus’ disciples about who would get to sit next to Him when He came into His Kingdom, Jesus sharply corrected their thinking.

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28

Jesus also commanded us to follow His example. During the Last Supper on the night Jesus was betrayed, He washed the disciples’ feet in a pure act of service. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).

One act of service – like serving coffee to shoppers on a bitter Black Friday morning – is good. But anyone (even me) can commit to a once-every-so-often, sacrifice-some-comfort, go-out-of-my-way act. But that doesn’t change my attitude that dictates my actions in the long-term. I must have a heart of service that is motivated by love for others. I know I am not where I need to be yet. Remember, Jesus is my example and He laid down His very life. Even for sinners. Even for the unlovely.

How can we develop a desire to serve others? What can we do to set aside our comfort, schedules, and self-absorption so we can follow Jesus’ example? I would love to know what you think.

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