Do you remember your list of chores from childhood? Think about the chores your parents made you do before you could play outside or go over to your friend’s house. Take out the trash, clean your room, scrub the bathroom, cut the grass, feed the animals—what was on your list? (Allow time for responses.)
Did you do these chores joyfully? Most kids would not put joy and chores in the same sentence. Forget about enjoying it, you probably did your chores as quickly as you possibly could! And, if you dragged your feet, you’d probably hear the irritated voice of your mom or dad: “Susie, you’re not done yet!” If you’re a parent now, you’ve probably embodied that nagging voice more times that you can count!
No, joyful service isn’t found in a list of chores. It’s not found when there’s a nagging voice prodding you to get the task done. Serving joyfully happens when we are so filled with love that we can’t help but share it with others!
The Christian servants we are honoring here today at (name your church, school, or organization) know what it means to serve with the joy of Jesus. They don’t rush through their tasks. Instead, they take time to show Jesus’ loving care to those they serve. They aren’t simply checking to-dos off a list. They are taking in God’s wisdom and guidance, and then considering where their service is needed most. They aren’t responding to a pastor nagging at them. They are serving out of a loving, grace-filled heart. And we are forever grateful for their joyful service in Jesus’ name! We echo the words of Paul from 1 Thessalonians:
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father (1 Thessalonians 1:2–3 KJV).
All of us, as believers, are called to serve with the joy of Jesus—because Jesus served us with joy. His joy was present from the very moment he entered our world. (Read Luke 2:10.) In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus described the joy that he had in rescuing sinners. (Read Luke 15:1–7.) Even in the midst of the overwhelming sorrow and grief of his impending crucifixion, Jesus spoke of the great joy that would flow from himself to his disciples. (Read John 15:11.)
While it’s nearly incomprehensible to us, Jesus joyfully died on the cross. To serve us, sinners who deserve nothing but pain and death, Jesus joyfully offered himself up to be our sacrifice. He took all of our sins, all of our guilt, and all of our shame. He didn’t do it because it was on his list of things to do or because the Father was nagging him. He went to the cross because he loves us! Hebrews 12:2 tells us that he joyfully suffered for our sins and rose again on the third day because it was all part of the Father’s will—our God, who wouldn’t leave his children without a Savior. Jesus’ joy was on full display on Calvary’s cross, a joy that came from the pure love, grace, and mercy of our heavenly Father.
Because Jesus served us with joy, we now serve him with joy. We don’t need to worry about the obligation of Christian service, like we are building some sort of resume for heaven. We don’t need to carry ministry like it’s a burden, part of the Christian life that bogs us down. We don’t need to worry that God’s promises are too good to be true, approaching the gates of heaven with the worry that Jesus will say, “Oops, you didn’t do enough.”
No—we serve with the joy of Jesus! When our sins get in the way of our service, we go to God for forgiveness. He promises to cleanse our hearts and restore our joy in Jesus’ name. He promises to enable our gifts and bring us new opportunities to serve in his name. We trust that God is using our joyful service to bring glory to his Kingdom. Our joy will never end because his promises, his love, and his grace are eternal!
Throughout all of our days, God enables our joy and our service. We walk in his ways, remembering the call of the psalmist:
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD (Psalm 100:1 KJV).
Serve the LORD with gladness (Psalm 100:2 KJV).
Editor’s note: As you bring ministry programs to a close this spring, don’t forget to thank the people that made it happen! Check out CTA’s appreciation theme Thank You for Serving with the Joy of Jesus. The theme is packed with value-priced gifts and resources to help you honor and recognize all types of ministry volunteers.
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