Bible Verses on Serving Others

  • Proverbs 11:25 ESV
    Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
        and one who waters will himself be watered.
  • Matthew 20:28 NIV
     just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
  • Matthew 23:11 NLT
     The greatest among you must be a servant.
  • Matthew 25:35-40 ESV
    For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
  • Mark 9:35 NIV
    Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.
  • Mark 10:44-45 ESV
    and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Luke 6:38 NIV
    Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
  • John 13:12-14 NIV
    When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
  • Acts 20:35 ESV
     In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
  • Galatians 5:13-14 ESV
    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Ephesians 6:7 NIV
    Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,
  • Philippians 2:3 ESV
    Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • Hebrews 13:16 NLT
    And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
  • 1 Peter 4:10
    Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
  • 1 John 3:18 NASB
    Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

Packing a Bag for the Homeless

He shuffled over to the line of women waiting to enter the arena for the first night of Women of Faith in Washington, DC.

He asked us for food.  I rifled through my bag because I had fully intended to pack snacks for just such an occasion.

I had nothing.

He asked for money.  I had none to give.homelessbag

He walked away.

I was angry at myself, frustrated that I had failed to prepare for compassion and service.  I had good intentions and no follow-through.

Hadn’t I just read a book I had discovered on the shelves of our church library called Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America?

A young college student chronicled the six months he and a friend lived as homeless men on the streets of America’s cities.  They played their guitars to earn money for food and went days without a single meal and weeks without a shower.  They had no access to running water or even a bathroom at night.  People avoided them and glared at them and they felt shame and knew they were unwanted.

Hadn’t I just finished Kelly Minter’s study, Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break and been reminded continually that “the Lord always has the poor on His mind, often paired with the widow, alien, and fatherless in Scripture’s pages”?  She wrote that “tangibly involving ourselves for the sake of justice is a biblical command” (p. 69).

After all, Isaiah 1:17 says:

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

It can’t get much clearer than that.

And before I studied Nehemiah, hadn’t I completed Beth Moore’s study: James: Mercy Triumphs? If ever there was a Biblical writer who echoed Christ’s heart for the poor and oppressed it was his half-brother James.

James asked:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16).

James summed our faith up this way:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

God cares passionately about the poor, the homeless, the oppressed, the overlooked, the widow, the orphan, the lost and the lonely.

He expects us to do the same.

I knew it.  I had read about it in book after book, study after study all year long.  I meant to bring food for the homeless to the streets of Washington, DC .

I forgot.

So the homeless man in faded clothes and a dusty face shuffled past me to another woman in line and another.

The day after I arrived home, I took my oldest daughter to the dollar store and we tossed soap and wash cloths into the cart.  We grabbed a box of small bottled waters, two packs of peanut butter crackers, and some canned peaches.

We packed our bags for a family vacation.  Then I packed some bags for the homeless.  I didn’t know if anyone else would shuffle over to me and ask for food, but I wanted to be ready.

I carried those Ziplock bags in a backpack all through our family vacation and it seemed like unnecessary weight.  We didn’t hand out a single one.

Until we were driving home, that is.  We stopped at a traffic light and I was busy thinking about the end of our vacation and the drive home and what happens next.  My husband saw the man with the sign:  “Homeless.  Please help.”

He grabbed one of our bags, motioned the man over and handed it out through the window.

The best part is that I now have a tangible reminder to pray for one particular man in need.

I have a lot to learn still.  My prayer is that God will open my eyes (clearly I need His vision) and prod my heart to prepare for ministry to “the least of these.”

Do you have ideas on how to minister to the poor and needy?

What I Want to Do Differently Next Time:

I had this brainstorm for the bags for the homeless and put it together based on ideas we picked up at the dollar store.  Then, I read a book that week called Cleaning House about a mom who lives in Dallas and encounters the homeless regularly while driving her kids around town.  She makes up bags of care items for the homeless, too!  I felt so excited that we had the same idea.

I loved some of the other items she adds, though.  Based on her thoughts and some of the ideas in the book Under the Overpass, my new care packages would look like this:

  • Wash cloth
  • Bar of Soap
  • Peanut Butter Crackers
  • Bottled Water
  • Other nonperishable food item
  • $5 gift card to a place like Subway, Wendy’s, McDonald’s or even an area grocery store
  • Pocket Bible or maybe a personal note with a Scripture verse
  • Information on a local homeless ministry

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

God in Muddy Boots

 Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,
  who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
  he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people (Psalm 113:5-8).

“Mom, can you tie my shoe?”

I kneel down, slightly off balance, and whip the laces into loops and knots.

“Mom, can you wash my hair?”

Bending over a daughter with her eyes pinched tightly shut, I scrub with shampoo and rinse the suds away carefully.

“Mom, can you show me how to play this on the piano?”

I stoop to press the keys, one hand pointing to the music, the other playing notes, showing melody, showing tempo, showing dynamics.

“Mom, can you hold my hand?”

Tilted to one side, I lean over to entwine our fingers and we swing our arms together to the rhythm of our pace.

“Mom, I’m hurt!”

Dropping to the ground, I clean the wound and press on the miraculous Band-Aid that instantly heals all hurts whether or not blood is involved.

Life with children is a life bent low.  It’s the ministry of kneeling down, stooping over, leaning, and bending to wipe, scrub, heal, hold, read, listen–to love.  So often, it’s the movement down to hug a child and lift her up.

God bends low to reach His children, too.

He could have sat, poised on His righteous throne, holy and unresponsive to our need, drumming His fingers while waiting for us to reach up to Him.

But He didn’t.  Seeing that we could never be righteous enough, He came to us instead, abandoning glory to take up the humble life in human flesh.  Jesus Christ, our Savior, our Sacrifice, is the great Love of God as He bent low in order to raise us up.

And He continued that ministry as He healed and forgave.  Finding Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever, Jesus “bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her” (Luke 4:39).  Petitioned by a leper for healing, Jesus “reached out his hand and touched the man” (Luke 5:13).  Confronted by an angry mob prepared to stone a woman caught in adultery, Jesus “stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:8).

Jesus could have simply spoken words of healing and forgiveness over anyone.  He had the power to heal with words alone, and sometimes He did.

But other times He chose to make it physical, and it so often required Him to bend low, to stoop, to reach out.  How else can a perfect and holy God touch us who are broken, sick, or dirty from sin?

Jesus didn’t mind the mess.  He touched people even when they were religiously “unclean,” when it was against the rules for them to have contact with other humans because they were so tainted that they’d stain the holiness of others.

This week, at an end-year celebration of a Bible Study group, a woman shared what she learned by studying David’s life.  She described putting on her muddy boots, the sweat pants she doesn’t care about and the raggedy t-shirt that means nothing to her and thinking nothing of getting down into the dirt.

Jesus got down in the dirt with people.  In the same way, this woman said, God didn’t mind getting down into the dirt with King David and He’s willing to do this for us, as well. 

God is not waiting for us to get cleaned up, to overcome, to fix it all up, to climb and clamber to success.   He isn’t put off by our faces smudged with dirt, our hands caked with mud, our fingernails lined with soil from trying to claw our way out of the pit we’re in.

Instead, David tells us:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2).

In order to lift David up, God had to reach down low, stretching a hand deep into the darkness to pull the shepherd-king on out to safety and firm ground and light and life.

For those who find themselves in the pit now, remember that God will reach low to you and He will lift you up.  You cannot be so deep in the darkness to be beyond His ability to save you. You cannot be so covered in dirt that He’s scared away or disgusted.

God puts on His muddy boots at times to wade in and rescue us.

Then He calls us to engage in this same ministry of bending low to reach others.  We don’t walk by friends in caverns and potholes and chasms, pretending that everything is all right or hoping for another bystander to reach down and rescue them.

We don’t turn up our noses at the dirt on another’s face,  refusing to stoop down to hold their hand and pull them up.

God wants us to be willing to kneel, stoop, bend, lean, and drop to the ground in all of the humility and love that naturally flows out of people who have been saved themselves.

It’s the ministry of a mom.  It’s the ministry of a child to an aging parent.  It’s the ministry of teachers and a ministry to the wayward and the lonely, the lost and the hurting.  It’s the ministry to the broken and a ministry to the least of these.

It’s the ministry of bending low to love another just as God has done for us.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King