The Act of Serving

If you want to serve others but don’t know how, just listen to the Holy Spirit’s gentle prompts.

Romans 12:1-8

Spiritual gifts assessments are popular for good reason—learning about ourselves is interesting, especially when it comes to our role in the church. In today’s passage, however, Paul says we shouldn’t just know our gifts; we must “use them properly” (Romans 12:6, emphasis added). So let’s spend the next four days looking at a few that he mentions, beginning with service.

The apostle, whose writing can be somewhat verbose, tells us the proper way to serve is “in the act of serving” (Romans 12:7). That may not seem like much to go on, but there’s a beauty in the precision of his statement. He’s saying there aren’t fancy rules to abide by when helping others—the proper way to serve is simply to serve.

The Greek term Paul uses to mean “service” offers some clarity. At its most basic level, diakonia (from which we get the word “deacon”) means “waiting tables.” It refers to the idea of “active service, done with a willing attitude.” Furthermore, New Testament writers often use it in conjunction with the Greek term pístis (Romans 12:6), which means “faith, trust, or confidence.”

What does this mean for us? We’re to help willingly and in faith, knowing the Holy Spirit empowers us. He will tell us what must be done and how. All we need to do is follow His lead and pitch in whenever and wherever we’re called. It’s as simple as that!