Five Invitations - Day 19

DAY 19 - Grace and Gratitude
Ephesians 2:8-10 

Why should we serve others?

I suggest three motives. First, we serve others to strengthen our connection to God. Remember, serving is an invitation to connect with God. God shows up, we show up, and we’re changed for the better. This is enlightened self-interest.

Second, we serve because we recognize God in others. Authors of scripture say we have an obligation to care for one another because we're all made in the image of God. Every human being, no matter what, has a basic dignity that cannot be taken away. For example, James 3:9 says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. This should not be.” God channels a little bit of himself through our neighbor.

But there's a third and more powerful motivation woven throughout the Bible. We see it here in Deuteronomy 10:19. “You are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Moses says, “You know what it’s like, Israel, to be a foreigner, so have mercy on immigrants just like God had mercy on you.” What’s the motive? Gratitude!

The Bible sees a back and forth in our lives between grace and gratitude. God takes the first step toward us. God does for us what we could not do for ourselves. That's grace. Unexpected. Unearned. Undeserved. Grace.

We respond in kind with grateful hearts. We serve because God first served us. We love because God first loved us. Love one another as Christ loves you. Do for others what God has done for you. Forgive as God forgives you. Help like you’ve been helped. We gratefully serve God who first serves us. As Paul says in Ephesians, grace feeds into good works.

Think about the power of gratitude. What’s your first response when you get a lavish, unexpected gift? You want to do something generous for the gift-giver. In a sense, God says, “Pay it forward. Serve others like I’ve served you.”

What motivates you to serve others? How does gratitude fit into your serving others?

Come, Holy Spirit! Fill my heart with gratitude for your grace! Amen.
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