Lesson 11 Discipleship: Service
Key Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11, Philippians 2: 1-11,Colossians 3: 23-24, Matthew 25: 31-46, Hebrews 10: 19-25 and James 2: 14-17, 26
Additional Scriptures: Titus 3: 1-8, Heb. 13:16, Eph. 2: 8-10, Gal. 6: 9-10, and 1 Peter 2: 11-12.
Because service is the natural outflow of Jesus’ ministry, in like manner these qualities should be evidenced in the Spirit-filled life of His followers. Such qualities should not become “works” for gaining a foothold in heaven. Nor should they in any way be overshadowed by a sense of guilt or obligation. Rather, they should be a resultant outpouring of deep love and thankfulness for Jesus’ love and the gift of grace that now makes us acceptable before the Father. Jesus’ blood has covered our sinful nature and because of this we now have a lifeline to the Father! When James says in his epistle, “faith without works is dead,” he refers to the fact that we are now empowered. Our very lives should be driven to show how before Christ we were blinded to God’s love but now have seen His Love. That Love now defines whom we are and how we are to act. Disciples should demonstrate a living faith by actions of service that are empowered by God’s Holy Spirit in us. Our goal in this lesson is to study the service of discipleship as revealed to us in Holy Scriptures.
Note for the Teachers: Please remember as we cover each subject, that each subject in no way exclusively defines discipleship. Each lesson helps us see the different facets of discipleship and should be viewed as inclusive parts of the very diverse aspects of discipleship. That is the danger in looking at only one arena of a disciple’s life and responsibilities. We must constantly remind ourselves and those we teach that our salvation is by God’s Grace and Jesus’ sacrifice. Our discipleship is a natural response to that Grace and Salvation.
1. The entire 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians is devoted to explaining how spiritual gifts are for service to others. In verses 4-11, what is the source of our spiritual gifts? What is the purpose of these gifts?
In these verses, Paul is reminding the Corinthians that spiritual gifts are to be used for service. These gifts, as we have studied in Lessons 7 & 8, are from God and are part of our daily expression of God working in our lives. As Paul says, the same God works through these gifts in all men. These gifts are manifestation of the Spirit “for the common good” of all disciples.
2. Using Philippians 2:1-5, what should be our attitude about service? What is the basis for this service?
The interest of others should take priority over our own interest. In other words, we should love others more than we love ourselves, which will be observed by the world. Paul uses a series of “If” statements, which highlights the reasons for service to others. If we find encouragement in Jesus, if we find comfort in Jesus, if find fellowship with the Spirit, if we find tenderness and compassion in Jesus, then we must respond by Loving each other and being united in a common goal. From these attitudes, we will be willing and find great joy as we serve each other. Jesus asks no less of us!
3. In Colossians 3:23-24, we read Paul’s encouragement to slaves to lead Spirit-filled lives under difficult conditions. Although we are not slaves, what do these verses say to us in our attitudes toward service?
These verses can apply to almost any situation. As we worship God by a daily life of sacrifice and as we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, we will work and serve others as if we are working and serving God. In having this attitude, our heart will be the guide and not guilt, duty or obligation. Never should we allow these attitudes to be a driving force to work and serve. Satan can use such motivators for service to disenchant and discourage us and to show the world that we do not love as the God who is Love does.
4. Read Matthew 25:31-45. What is the scene that Jesus is describing in these verses? Why did Jesus focus on service? What is the relationship in these verses between faith in Jesus and the action of service to others?
Jesus is describing his second coming to his disciples. Our understanding of these verses must be seen in the larger context of the Paul and James, as they each reveal our response to Grace, which should be an active faith that produces fruit. Thus, as Jesus comes to secure his disciples, he will gather to him the ones that have demonstrated their faith in him by serving others. In fact, Jesus states that if we have served the weakest brother then we have served him. This should be a moment in which we are humbled! How many times have we wished just to see or meet Jesus or to have been there to see a miracle and watch as he talked to his disciples? Here is where the “rubber” meets the road, because if we have served others then we have seen Jesus! Jesus spent the entirety of his three years on this earth was serving others. As disciples, service to others should be our greatest honor before God.
5. From Hebrews 10:24-25, what is our responsibility to each other concerning service?
As disciples we must support each other in many ways, including being united in the common purpose of following Jesus. Part of this support should include encouraging each other to love and produce “good deeds”. We can translate “good deeds” into our service to others. Jesus reinforced this concept as he stated in Matt 25 - “whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”. As we meet together, we are to encourage one another.
6. What is the relationship between James 2:14-17, 26 and Matthew 25:31-46? Ultimately who is the recipient of our service?
As we ask tough questions about our faith and our ability to discern active faith in our own lives, as we are being transformed and are made different from the world, we must understand that faith produces good deeds. Plainly, faith without a true focus on Jesus is going through the motions of practicing a Christian mimicking lifestyle. Yet, faith that is true and active will show fruit. We cannot claim a right to privacy or anonymity and bear fruit for Christ. Even the smallest animal or plant declares the glory of God. Our lives are not out own anymore. Either we crucified that condemned life on the Cross and rose to live a life full of the fruit of the Spirit or we are slipping back into this dead world. We cannot ride the fence. This is the same contrast that we saw in our lessons on transformation and living in the Spirit.
This Week’s Challenge: Why is it difficult to see ourselves as servants? Examine specific ways in which you can help serve others. What sacrifices are you willing to make to accomplish this service?
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