So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving.
–John 12:2

In Romans 12:6-8, Paul listed seven spiritual gifts. The second spiritual gift Paul mentioned is the gift of serving. The gift of serving is the desire and ability to meet the practical needs of other people. A person in the body of Christ with this spiritual gift usually has little interest in teaching a Sunday school class or leading a Bible study group. What he or she wants to do is meet the practical needs of people. A person with the gift of serving wants to fix the meals or work on the bus or stuff the bulletins or otherwise take care of people’s practical needs.

When I think of somebody in the Bible who had the gift of serving, I think of Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus. In Luke 10, Mary was excited about the Lord being in their home, and she sat at the feet of Jesus and soaked it all in while her sister, Martha, was slaving away in the kitchen. Remember Martha’s reaction? Martha said, in essence, “Mary, if you want to spend time with Jesus, fine, but do it on your own time. Right now, you need to get in here and help me fix the meal.” Now, it is not that Martha did not love the Lord, but she saw a practical need that needed to be met. That is the gift of serving.

There are several unique characteristics of this gift. First, somebody with the gift of serving desires appreciation but does not need a lot of public recognition. Make no mistake about it: they want to be appreciated, but they get embarrassed if someone makes a big deal about it in public. Second, a person with the gift of serving can detect the personal needs of other people. Their internal radar leads them to somebody who has a practical need that needs to be met. Third, they are willing to overlook their own personal discomfort to meet other people’s needs. They will go without things in their own lives in order to meet the practical needs of others.

There are some dangers about the gift of serving we need to be aware of as well. First, a person with this gift can become bitter when he or she is not appreciated. If they sense that nobody appreciates what they are doing, they can become bitter. Second, they can emphasize practical needs over spiritual needs. If you have this gift, you need to be balanced. Remember, nobody ever became a Christian from eating a hot meal or putting a coat on. No matter how Christlike you are, nobody can be won to Christ through your good actions alone; they need to hear the gospel. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Third, a person with this gift needs to be careful about judging others who do not have the gift. A person with the gift of serving can be very judgmental about people who seem to be uncaring about meeting the practical needs of other people. That is the gift of serving.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “You And Your Spiritual Gift” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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