THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SERVICE AND ITS GENERALITY
Service is not restricted to those who work in the field of education, but it is necessary for all and of benefit to all. It is considered as one of the general spiritual means. It is a general spiritual principle that is required from all the faithful: the old and the young, the married and the celibate. The saying of the Bible is sufficient:
“ To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas 4:17).
Sins are not only what is negative in one’s actions, but the lack of doing good is considered a sin. Therefore the spiritual person is the one who always does good, as an image of God whom we describe as “The Beneficent”, and as it was said about the Lord Jesus Christ that He: “Went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Are you like that?
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The spiritual person does not live only for himself...
There is a well known
saying: “He who lives only for himself never
lived.” Then in the service, you must get out of your shell to meet others.
You must get out of the “I” sphere to spread your love among all. You feel
that your message in life is to do good to all those whom God send in your
way. The more you gain experience in life and broadness in the heart, the
circle of your service will get bigger. It would not be limited to your house
and your family, and not only to your relatives, neighbours, friends and col-
leagues, but it will reach to a range that is wider and wider...
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The service, in its essence, is an expression of love that is stored in the heart towards God and people...
It is required from each
faithful to love God with all his heart, with all
his soul and with all his might. This is a commandment since the Old Testament (Deut 6:5). And it was repeated in the New Testament also (Mt 22:37-39). Love is not just a theoretical thing, because the Bible says: “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18). Practical love shows in the service. Because you love God, you express your love for Him by spreading the word about His Kingdom, by serving the church and serving the Word. And because you love people, you serve them by all means that are available for you and useful for them...
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The important thing is that the element of sacrifice and giving is present in everyone’s life, everyone.
so you find that the service has given you a spiritual virtue, that is
love, giving and sacrificing. By that, you would have benefited from your
service... You may serve the poor and find that due to their need, some of
them turned to lying, stealing or cheating to obtain what they need. Do not
get weary of them or give up. Do not get annoyed and let your reaction leads
you to treat them badly... Maybe God allowed you to meet those people to
learn patience and long-suffering and also wisdom in your way of acting.
Or maybe to serve them spiritually and help them to get rid of such bad
behaviour. Then you would have gained spiritual virtues while serving
TYPES OF SERVICE
are various types of service: some are social and others are spir-
About the spiritual
service, the Bible says: “He who turns a sinner from
the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (Jas
5:20). Also: “Take heed to yourself and save both yourself and those who hear you”
(1 Tim. 4:16). Then it is a service that concerns saving the soul. How glori-
ous!! And the Bible also says: “...Receiving the end of your faith - the salvation
of your souls” ( 1 Pet 1:9).
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As for the social service and because of its sublimity, God made it a scale for judgment in the last day:
As He says to those on His right side:”... For I was hungry and you gave Me food: I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Mt 25 : 35-40). Then He explained this by saying: “... Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Considering all those needy people exactly as Himself...
And the Bible also says: “ Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (Jas 1:27).
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We have seen types of services that include the whole society and have exceeded to an international level...
World organizations such
as the Red Cross and ambulance societies,
world organizations for aid and the like, they offer help to those who are in
need wherever they are, whether in countries where natural disasters, such
as floods occurred, or military disasters or famines. Relief comes to them
from far away countries that maybe they never knew before and never had
any relationships with them. But it is the humanitarian feeling and the love
towards all that automatically rushes to help those who are in need.
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These secular world organizations have no relation to the church to do such things, so how much more appropriate for us ?
are required to do something for your brother, the human being.
God gave us the example of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 30-37 ) who helped
a man on the road, although there was animosity between his people and
this man’s people. But it is the love that does not know discrimination.
Nobody should say to himself : “ I am not called for service”! No, you are called to love all and to express this love by serving. As for the educational service, it needs you to be sent by the church (Rom 10:15), because not everyone is suitable for preaching and teaching...
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Then there are many types of service and each one can serve according to the grace given to him from God.
can ever say that God did not grant him any abilities for serv-
ice. He must be able to do something... The serving person, I mean the one
who has the spirit of service, you find him serving in all fields: at home, at
the work place or at school, at church, on the road... with everyone and eve-
rywhere; he is a giver and whoever meets him has to receive something from
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Ask yourself then : what is the share of others in my life?
needs a call. As for the general service, it needs only love
and the desire of the heart to serve others. This in itself is a call from the
heart... I remember once that a surgeon asked me what could he do for oth-
ers. I said to him : At least one tenth of the fees you receive for the opera-
tions that you perform should be given to the poor and the needy. And so
God would have a share in your knowledge and in your work. And you
express your love for the poor by reducing your fees when you charge them...
THE SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF THE SERVICE
service strengthens the spirituality of the servant. And the spir-
ituality of the servant strengthens the service. By serving, you give and
we consider service as one of the spiritual means. As you give
those whom you serve love from your heart, your heart will also be satisfied
by this service. There is no doubt that the one who serves the orphans, the
sick, the disabled, the poor or the needy in general, his heart is enriched by
deep feelings that will elevate his soul and make him in no need of the world’s
vain emotions. The feeling that one acquires from facing pain and suffering
is stronger than the feelings offered by places of entertainment and pleas-
ure. And so you take from your service much more than what you give. Just
the mere feeling that you made somebody happy, or you solved a problem,
will make your heart overflow with deep feelings.
There are other types of service that are not educational.
I used to know a colleague
from Sunday School who was about forty
five years old. He had no class to teach but his service was visiting and solv-
ing people’s problems before they get complicated, and sometimes he would
solve complicated problems. He used to find great happiness in this serv-
ice. He used to see God’s hand in all the problems that God solved through
him. He used to tell us about God’s work; a very enjoyable, spiritual talk...
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Service benefits your life in giving you spiritual experiences.
a great honour for you in the service to work with God. As St. Paul
the Apostle said about himself and his fellow Apostles: “We are God’s fellow
workers” (1Cor. 3:9). In the service, you work with God, and God works with
you, works in you and works through you. In all that, you see wonders
from His work and you feel how God’s hand interferes and solves all com-
plicated matters, or He may open for you closed doors, or offer you solu-
tions so that you will then glorify God in all His works. As for those who do
not serve, they deprive themselves from all these experiences and from God’s
fellowship in the service..
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The service also benefits you by being a school for prayer:
The more you serve, the more you feel that there are matters that need divine help, so you train yourself to pray for them. You also pray that God may bless the work, enter it and not leave you alone. You also pray that your service may be spiritual and not just an activity or a routine, or mere social work. You also pray much with the ones you serve with, and so you train yourself in the work of prayer.
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The service generally elevates one into a spiritual atmosphere.
is no doubt that service offers much benefit, as one finds himself
in a spiritual atmosphere with spiritual persons, committed to spiritual prin-
ciples and values. In the service, one may also find himself committed to meetings and Masses. He finds himself also committed to a special, spir-
itual life in order to be a role model to those whom he serves, or at least not
to be a stumbling block for them. But he repeats the saying of the Bible:
“And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (Jn 17:19 ).
The Lord Jesus Christ said this phrase with a specific meaning, and we too repeat this phrase to mean that our lives may be sanctified in the service, and to be a role model for those whom we serve, in all good deeds.
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You may say to God in your prayer: those people, O Lord, need me to be always in touch with You for their sake. Grant me to have this relationship with You. Care for me and care for them, protect me and protect them. Would that I become a good bridge through which they reach You and in my heart I carry them before You...
In this way you will find that the service has created for you a special relationship with God, and this relationship becomes a necessity for the service. Gradually, the service also becomes a necessity that will always connect you to God. Therefore I can say :
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That most of those who left the service, have become lukewarm.
They lost the warmth that they used to have while serving. No prayer, no depth and no commitment... They also lost the holy zeal that they had before and the social virtues that accompanied the service.
The service also very often gives greater opportunity to read the Holy Bible and gives spiritual knowledge in general with what accompanies this of contemplation and commentary, especially for those who serve a spiritual or educational service.
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And so the growth of spiritual knowledge and maybe religious knowledge in many aspects, become among the benefits of the service.
This knowledge comes from
many sources: such as reading, whether
reading the Holy Bible or lives of the saints or spiritual books. It also comes
from attending religious meetings concerning the service... And also from
what one hears in Masses from chapters of the Bible and also from sermons.
This knowledge contributes to one’s practical and spiritual exercises. And if he leaves the service, he may leave all these blessings ...
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Nevertheless, one may gain other types of knowledge.
He will become aware of people’s problems and learn many details about the human nature and its feelings, and also learn about the devils’ wars and enticements.
He will also learn the practical solutions, if his service is the type that deals also with solving people’s internal and external problems.
If he fails to handle this, he will at least see the part played by the spiritual guides or the priests in these problems and how they solve them. His experiences in life, accordingly, will increase.
There are types of people who would serve servants, and offer their facilities for the service.
Many women used to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and : “Provided for Him from their substance” (Lk 8:3). At the outset of the first church, Mariam, the mother of St. Mark the Apostle, left her home so that it may become the first church where the faithful would meet together and pray, St Paul the Apostle also told us about Priscilla and Aquila that : “The church that was in their house” (Rom 16:5), and also of the church that was in the house of Nymphas (Col 4:15). History also described for us the many services done for the churches and the monasteries by the two well known benefactors : Ibrahim El Gohary and his brother Girgis...
Also some people may not serve the villages but donate a car to take the servants to these villages.
Or they may prepare a place to be used for the service or buy Bibles, Gospels, Agpias, pictures, prizes or whatever the priest distributes from crosses and icons, or they may help in the administrative work of meetings such as writing the names of those who are present, prepare lists of those who are absent so that they may be visited later on and such services that seem simple but are necessary and of benefit.
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And there are those who serve by praying for the meetings and their fruitfulness, and for problems and their solution.
Their prayers which are said in secret may be of greater benefit than those which are heard. The important thing, my brother, is to serve...
CONDITIONS OF THE SUCCESSFUL SERVICE
THEY PERISHED IN THE SERVICE
Not each service is a spiritual means. There are those who perished in the field of service and fell and were troubled ...
example, the older son who did not rejoice for the return of his lost
brother. He refused to enter the house and when his father came out and
pleaded with him, he said to his father: “ Lo these many years I have been serv-
ing you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time and yet you never
gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends...” (Lk 1: 28-30 ).
He was in the service for many years, but still his will was different from his father’s will and his heart towards his brother was not pure.
The sayings to the angels of the seven churches are another example.
they were shepherds of churches, the Lord said to one of them,
“ You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” ( Rev 3:1 ) . And said to
another, “ Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot , I will spew you
out of my mouth” ( Rev 3:16) . And to a third , the Lord said, “You have left
your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent” (Rev 2:4,5).
Others who were among the helpers of St Paul the Apostle, completely perished.
Those about whom he said: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction... and whose glory is in their shame - who set their mind on earthly things,” (Phil 3:18-19). Maybe one of those was Demas who forsook St. Paul, “having loved this present world” (2Tim 4:10). All these were lost, and others have fallen and repented.
The service was not the cause of their loss, but they forgot their spirituality in the field of the service, so they fell and some perished...
What then are the conditions of the spiritual service?
You love God, love the kingdom and love the people.
Love brings forth love. But if you serve and annoyance and weariness are involved, or if you feel obliged to give and serve without feeling joy, then do you think you will benefit spiritually ?!
It happens sometimes that some people can start the service without having the correct spiritual goal. But when they see the needs of those whom they serve and notice their pain and hardships, their hearts are touched by kindness and sympathy, so they’ll serve them with a loving heart. This love is a result of the service. Love is intermingled with their service and hence teaches them to serve with feeling.
Some serve the poor and find that those who are in need turn to lying and stealing. Their requests involve tiring insistence and raised voice... So in turn, servants sometimes become fed up with them. They may even send them away and treat them cruelly...
As for the loving heart, it endures their troubles... Because love bears all things (1Cor 13:7).
So if you serve and feel that your nerves begin to tire, and you become angry and impatient with those who stir trouble, you should know that there is something inside you that needs to be treated and that the service has uncovered in you a defect that needs correcting...
Do not say that the fault is in the service, but it is in you...
Say to yourself: I must be more tolerant, more patient and bearing of others, no matter how wrong they are. My endurance will be an example for them to follow.
Or you may say: service
showed me that those who are poor are not
only in need of money to cover their needs but they are also in need of spir-
itual work to lead them to repentance, to know God and to behave correctly...
And so you start a spiritual service with them so they’ll benefit both materi-
ally and spiritually...
The same thing with problem students or those who do not keep order during meetings...
Thus, spiritual service requires endurance.
service has troubles and each servant, as the Apostle said, will re-
ceive his own reward according to his own labour (1Cor 3:8). Our fathers
the Apostles laboured much in their service. St Paul the Apostle says about
his service and those who laboured with him: “But in all things we commend
ourselves ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,
in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fastings...
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report...” (2Cor 6:4-8).
He also says: “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2Cor 4:8,9). And the Apostle endured many hardships, “In labours more abundant...”, but he endured all things and gained glorious crowns because of his endurance.
And as we refer to St Paul the Apostle, we also refer to many personalities in the Bible.
example, the suffering endured by St John the Evangelist during his
exile on the island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation :”I,
John, both your brother and companion in tribulation” (Rev 1:9), and also the
Prophet Daniel who was cast into the den of lions (Dan 6), and the three
youths who were cast into the burning fiery furnace (Dan 3). Yet, we should
not forget the saying of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Disciples: “Behold, I send
you as sheep in the midst of wolves... They will deliver you up to councils and scourge
you in their synagogues. And you will be brought before governors and kings for
My sake... And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Mt 10:12-22). The
Apostles endured all things in patience.
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Perseverance gives the servant spiritual strength from God.
gives him strength in hope so he would not despair. It also strength-
ens him in hope, believing that God will intervene and solve everything. He
also acquires another virtue, which is to ‘wait on the Lord’, as the Psalmist
said: “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait, I say!” (Ps 27:17). He also described his deep spiritual experience: “My
soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning” (Ps 130). An-
other point which characterizes the successful service is :
Spirituality and depth.
SPIRITUALITY OF THE SERVICE
For many people, the
service is just an activity that consumes all their
energy; they are like a moving flame of production and work, but with no
spirit. Such a service does not benefit you spiritually because God has no
share in it... It is quite common for the dynamic activity to hinder the spir-
will find, for example, a Sunday School supervisor who has great
energy in compiling programs and preparation books, arranging for serv-
ants meetings, youth-group meetings, looking after the library and the club,
summer activities... But you ask him about his spiritual life, and he will re-
spond that he has no time for it! His spiritual life is lukewarm and conse-
quently his service becomes lukewarm. It becomes a giant collection of or-
ganizations, without spirit. It does not benefit his life and it does not benefit
The service turns into purely administrative matters.
This may also happen in
areas of social service, the service of orphan-
ages, old people’s homes, strangers and church committees... And in this
administrative work, there are many discussions, arguments, noise and shout-
ing. There could also be competition and partiality. The spirit of the serv-
ant gets lost in all this because the service did not contain any spiritual char-
acteristics. God was not a partner in it. Prayer and applying the word of
God did not take place.
Try then in any service you are involved in to keep away from routine and formalities and bring God into it. Let it have spiritual characteristics... Even in administrative tasks, let them have “the spirituality of administration.” This phrase needs a special topic to explain its details...
There is a big difference between a man of God when he administers and men of the world in their administration.
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Therefore, in your service, keep away from spiritual errors.
away from ordering and prohibiting. Have the spirit of humility
and good manners when addressing the young just as when you address
the old. No matter how much authority you are given in the service, do not
talk to people in a superior manner or become haughty. Do not let the spirit
of control and domination enter your heart. Remember the Lord’s saying:
“...He who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts him-
self will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt 23:11). And
also, “...The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a
ransom for many” (Mt 20:28).
Therefore do not let the service make you lose your gentleness and humility.
If you find that the tone
of your voice is getting loud and sharp in the
service, beware and examine yourself. If you find that you talk about your-
self and the great tasks that you do, beware also, lest the devil of vain glory
gathers all that you have sowed in the service. If you look with despise to
another, comparing his standard with yours, then you should know that pride
has entered within you... Place before you the Apostle’s saying, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim 4:16). Always tell yourself, I did not enter the service to fall into new sins but to grow spiritually!
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In the service, beware also of the Ego
Do not use the service as
a means to boost your ego and dignity. You
are a servant of the Lord, and so together with John the Baptist say, “He must
increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). And also what was said in the Psalm,
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory” (Ps 115:1).
of the Lord’s warning to the irresponsible shepherds who feed
themselves (Ezek 34:8-10), and let your aim in the service be the kingdom of
God and the salvation of people... and not the puffing up of your ego and
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The service that is of benefit spiritually is the one in which you forget the word “I” ...
The servant who forgets the word “I” also forgets his own comfort and his time. He does not seek praise or dignity and he does not mourn for the lack of them. He also prefers others to himself in all the matters of the service, as the Apostle said: “...In honour giving preference to one another” (Rom 12:10). If the servant does this, he will be loved by all and at the same time, he will not lose his humility in the service...
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service that is of benefit spiritually is also the one that is far from
Many enter the service and after a while, neglect themselves and their spirituality and involve themselves in managing the service. They then clash with the church, the priest, the committee and all those who are involved. They start talking about the behaviour of others; what they do - the right and the wrong - but they tend to concentrate on the wrong! This in turn results in their continuous gossiping about others, judging and defaming others, and ultimately destroying others.
Yet the amazing thing is that they do all this in the disguise of defending the truth!
And in the name of
defending the truth they fall into countless sins.
Quarrels and divisions can also occur as a result, and in order to win their
wars, they try to gain as many as possible on their side, to join in on the
judgment and defamation. The atmosphere of the service becomes troubled,
losing its spirituality, losing the spirit of love and losing gentleness and sim-
plicity! Is all this for the sake of defending the truth?! Yet in all this, does
anyone stop to ask himself : do I have the right to say that? Or, am I creating
a spiritual atmosphere in which to defend the truth?! How many were lost
and caused others to become lost, as a result of this negligence in “the serv-
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To benefit spiritually, pay more attention to the positives and not to the negatives in your service.
before yourself the proverb that says: “Instead of cursing the dark-
ness, light a candle.” Be an example for all and be certain that this, in itself,
is a message and a service... You must know that positive work is construc-
tive and will always remain. No one will criticize you for it, and in this way
you will do harm to no one. As for being occupied with negative thoughts
in the service, they will trouble your thoughts and your spirit and may lead
you to the way of destruction and cause you to fall into many sins.
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It is then better for you not to serve, than to serve in a manner that causes you to fall into sin!
For in this case, you will become a stumbling-block for others, and the Lord said: “Woe to him through whom offences come” (Lk 17:1).
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