I'm always amazed at the desire and want of well-meaning Christians to help, but when the opportunity to help presents itself, there is little ability to actually give care. I attribute this to the "Golden Rule affect". Matthew 7:12 rings in from our Sunday School days and we begin helping the way we think we would want help. When, instead, the lesser known silver rule should apply: "treat others the way THEY want to be treated".
I learned this "Silver Rule" while in pre-marital counselling with my wife, Carissa. I might think she wants me to do ______ to serve her, when if I actually ask, it's something completely different.
This applies to missions as well. In the mid-1900's missions didn't always mean bringing the Gospel or assisting with a need that they had. Instead, missions often meant turning the people you were serving into something that looked and acted like me. In my time in Uganda we heard of well-meaning Christians who would give electronics to the people there...only to not know that there was no electricity to run them. This obvious miss is not good for the ones serving, or the served.
Consider the biblical story of Mary and Martha. One "served" while the other one served. Martha, busy doing things that very well needed to be done kept herself and all those who watched knowing that she was giving care. Mary, in contrast, sat with Jesus. Unknown to all except Him, His final week on earth was coming near. Mary gave service by being present, by listening, by being near Jesus at this time.
As I have challenged our church body over the past two weeks, who is it that God is calling us to be serving? The sick? The poor? The well? The rich? All are in need of service, but we must understand and know the person before attempting to be serving them.
How ridiculous would it be to eat at a fancy restaurant and have the waiter assume what we would want to eat? Consider how you are giving service to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and those God places in your heart. Are you "serving" them, or are you serving them?
Be blessed this week, and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.