The Lord has pressed upon my heart lately the desire to serve others more than myself. i.e., I’ve been convicted by the Holy Spirit, and He says to quit being so self-obsessed. It’s so easy to focus on me, me, me all of the time. Most especially when I feel like things aren’t going my way. I get caught up in this whirlwind of making myself feel better, and making myself happy, and feeling sorry for myself. It’s a downward spiral of selfishness that’s so hard to break.
But that’s not what the Lord wants at all. If you find a verse in the Bible that says “take care of numero uno above all else,” you let me know. In fact I’ll make you a deal; if you can find a verse that says it’s all about you then I’ll eat my hand.
Acts chapter 16 talks about someone who is just such an example of a woman who isn’t focused on herself. Her name is Lydia, and the Bible only gives a brief glimpse of her as follows:
And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us. Acts 16:13-15
Now here’s a little background on what was going on. Paul was on his second missionary journey. Persecution of Christians was beginning to run rampant. Lydia was a seller of purple cloth, which she means she would have been somewhat “successful” according to the standards of her time and also (as you see when she invited Paul and his companions to her home) somewhat of an established homemaker. Becoming a Christian meant running the risk of becoming greatly unpopular.
But Lydia took it one step further than that. She didn’t become a follower of Christ and then start working out how to keep it quiet, how to protect her business, and possibly even her life. No. Instead of worrying about herself, Lydia begged to play hostess to Paul and those journeying with him. To invite them into her home, and to serve them. In fact, if you read further on in Acts 16 you find that after Paul and Silas were released from prison they went into Lydia’s house. She had put herself aside to accommodate them yet again, offering her home up as a place where believers met.
The Bible says this:
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25: 41-46
So my challenge to myself (and you if you’ll accept it) is this: will you take an oppurtunity to clothe, to visit in prison, and to feed? We are provided every day with so many opportunities to serve, and still we choose to look at ourselves, assess our “needs” and seek only to satisfy our desires. There is such a blessing waiting for those who choose to serve. Now go out, put yourself aside, find someone who needs, and serve.