As God’s Son, Jesus deserved a palace with a throne, complete with servants waiting on His every need or desire. Yet for Jesus, it wasn’t about the lap of luxury or the fame. Jesus came for a different reason. He came to save us, and He focused His attention on serving, not being served.
Mark records it this way—Jesus said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free” (Mark 10:45, NIrV).
For us, we often think of service in terms of our experience with a waiter at a restaurant or the phone call we make for technical support. But as we lean into God’s heart and discover what it means to reflect His character to the world around us, we soon discover something more about service. It’s not just what people do for us, but rather what we need to be doing for the people around us.
My kids gave me some insight into this as my wife and I were out in our yard working on a flowerbed. My wife keeps all of these beautiful plants alive in our yard and I try not to kill them. As my wife and I were digging in the dirt with the only two shovels we could find in the garage, our daughters came up to us and asked if they could help plant some flowers. We explained that we only had the two shovels, but thanks for offering to help. Without hesitation, they both said “Oh, we don’t need shovels—we have our hands!” And they did. They got in there and dug around in the dirt and planted some flowers. We all had fun. The garden looked beautiful. The girls . . . well, they were beautiful too. Messy, but beautiful. And it turned out that they were a huge help.
I was reminded that to help out, sometimes all you need are your hands.
It’s like our definition for service: lending a hand to help someone else. There’s something pretty great that happens when we decide to take the focus off of ourselves and lend a hand to help someone who needs it.
I think that we all want our children to grow up and recognize that the world doesn’t actually revolve around them. That often life is about what can do for the people around us. We hope that kids start to understand that they really do have an important role in this world to give, to help, and to serve others.
We kick off the month with an interaction that Jesus had with His disciples. They had been known to argue about who would be the greatest. In Mark 10:32-45, we see that even James and John ask Jesus if they can sit at the places of honor in His kingdom. Jesus reminds them that He came to serve and give His life for everyone. He taught them that if they wanted to be great, they needed be the servants of all.
Bottom Line: Serve others because of what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the ultimate example of service. We’d love for kids and families to understand that serving others is part of what it means to follow Jesus. Because He loved and served us first, we should love and serve others.
We’ll head to the Old Testament and discover a principle from the book of Deuteronomy. Serving others has always been part of what it means to follow God, and Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10 remind us that it’s not just the act of serving that’s important; it’s also important that we serve others with the right attitude.
Bottom Line: Have a good attitude when you lend a hand. We want kids to learn they should give to others freely. Rather than complain when we serve others, we should joyfully serve those in need.
For week three, we look at a familiar story in John 6:1-13. Jesus had been talking to a crowd of over 5,000 people. Now it was late in the day, and they were starting to get restless and hungry. Jesus sent the disciples to figure out how to feed them all. A boy offered what he had for them to use: five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus used that boy’s small offering and turned it into more than enough food for everyone.
Bottom Line: Use what you have to lend a hand. Kids may not think they have much to give, but God can use what they do have to accomplish something great. We pray kids walk away from this week encouraged to use what they have to lend a hand.
We help kids discover a story they may not know very well, but we think it’s a great example of lending a hand. In 1 Kings 17, we learn that Elijah asked a poor widow for water and bread, but because of the severe drought in the country, the woman had only enough for one meal for her and her son. Elijah told her that God would provide flour and oil until the next time it rained. God did just that—and none of them went hungry.
Bottom Line: Ask God for what you need to lend a hand. There will be times when you’re not sure you have what it takes to serve others. In those moments, we want kids to remember that they can ask God to help them. God is able to come through for them and give them what they need to help others.
We end the month with a passage that Jesus spoke during the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus explains that when we serve or give it shouldn’t be in a way that is showy and puts all of the attention on ourselves. In fact, He even says to give to others in secret.
Bottom Line: Lend a hand without looking for applause. This week, we want kids to walk away knowing that helping others shouldn’t be about getting thanked. Often the best way to serve is to surprise someone and help them without getting any recognition at all.
What do you think would happen to the heart of a child, to the character of a child, if they grew up looking for good things to do for others in secret? Not to be recognized by people, but to realize that they were doing it only for God? That’s why our memory verse this month is Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine so others can see it. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will bring glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
The purpose of serving others isn’t so people will see how good you are. Rather, when you serve others, they see a reflection of God, which brings glory to Him.
God is up to something big in this world, and the amazing thing is that He wants us to be part of it. This month as we learn what it means to lend a hand and serve others, we pray kids are inspired to use what they have to join in the work God is doing and make a difference in the world.
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