There have been countless moments throughout my life where I have been faced with a choice: spend my time doing something I want to do, or spend it doing something for someone else. More often than not, I have preferred to choose what sounded best or most interesting to me—even though I knew that it was selfish. I used to cringe whenever someone would contact me at the last minute asking me to do a favor, make plans, or expect me to drop everything to go help them with whatever was going on at the time. Now, it wasn’t because I didn’t care about the person or want to be there for them, it was the fact that it was taking up my personal time.
It wasn’t until recently that I understood how much of an issue this really is. You see, by caring so much about “my personal time,” I am passing up on the opportunity to minister to the needs of others. When I really thought about it, I realized that I am not compromising “my time,” but rather HIS time. Everything that I have, including time, has been given to me by my Creator. There is nothing I own, partake in, or enjoy that has not been given to me by the grace of God. My time is His. My heart is His. My life is His.
When I think about it, I should look forward to each opportunity I have to serve and help others. Each situation that I am presented with to help someone other than myself is another chance for me to show the love of Christ through serving. In Philippians chapter two we see that Christ—although He was God—took the form of man and served others; “5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” How humbling is that?! If God in the form of His Son spent His time here on earth serving others, what should I be doing as his daughter?
The next time you are asked to spend time working for someone else, think about this: every moment you have is a gift from the Lord. Why not use that gift of time to serve others for His glory?
“17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17
Since October of 2014, I have been volunteering at Through the Gate. I have committed to staying on average 1-2 nights a week at the facility with the women in the program. Sometime after I became a volunteer, I was asked to come on as a Through the Gate board member, and have been a part of it ever since.
Over the past year and a half, I have been blessed with the opportunity to see the program grow and change in many ways. I remember when our Director first felt led to begin this program, and how much time and prayer was put into the ministry in order to get it where it is today. It is amazing to see how God has orchestrated it all in His timing. There were many times when it seemed nearly impossible to make Through the Gate a reality, but God has been faithful every step of the way. Philippians chapter four verse nineteen says; “19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I have found this to be absolutely true!
Although I will tell you now that I am extremely grateful for the chance to serve in this ministry, I must be honest and say that I have not always felt this way. I can remember about two years ago when we had a meeting after church one Sunday and our pastor asked for all the ladies of StoneWater Church to pray and consider volunteering to stay at Through the Gate. We are a small church, and I knew that not many would volunteer. I felt bad because I didn’t want to see only a few people sign up and each have to do multiple shifts. I had no desire to volunteer to stay myself…but I signed up anyway.
Truthfully the reason I volunteered was because of how close I was with the pastor and his family, and I did not want others to see me not helping out and wonder why. It was a pride issue. I was more worried about others viewing me as selfish with my time (which was absolutely true) than choosing to serve others like Christ. Driven by my pride, I reluctantly volunteered to stay on Wednesday evenings.
I remember being nervous (not knowing what we would talk about) as I went to stay my first night with our first woman in the program. Despite my worrying about not being able to carry on a conversation, we spent hours sharing with each other about our lives. I ended up staying awake way past what I had planned because of how much I was enjoying getting to know her.
When we finished talking, I was getting ready to go to sleep and saw a text from a friend saying how proud of me they were that I chose to serve in this way. I immediately felt guilty and began to cry, knowing that the heart behind my service was not right. I admitted that I did not choose to serve with the right motives, and cried to God in repentance. He showed me that night how selfish I had been and sparked in me a real desire to continue serving. I prayed about my heart, as I realized how much God had blessed me that night despite my wrongful attitude. I began to understand just how much influence I could have on a person’s life by choosing to submit to the Lord and serve. It was eye-opening to say the least.
After that night, I decided that I wanted to start volunteering for more than just my one day a week, and offered to cover whenever others needed a break. Since then, I have continued serving at Through the Gate in more ways than one. I cannot begin to express how blessed I have been through all of it. It has been amazing to see so many women grow in the Lord and watch as their lives are changed. I will say it’s not always easy, but no one ever said it would be. As believers, we are called to serve one another in love—not just when it is easy! Galatians chapter five tells us; “13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesha ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
I am so thankful for all the ways God has used this ministry to help women, but I am especially grateful for how He has used it to help me. I never anticipated that I would be so blessed by Through the Gate, as God has definitely used it to help me grow in my own walk.
I hope that others are encouraged to know that God can absolutely change your desires, even when it is something that you really struggle with. I have prayed for Him to give me a heart to serve others, and help me to be others-focused instead of self-focused. While I know that I will continue to struggle at times, I can definitely say that the Lord has been faithful in answering that prayer.
“23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” –Colossians 3:23-24
When you think about the word “holy,” what comes to mind? Do you think of God? Do you imagine something that is pure or without blemish? What about yourself—when you think of the word “holy,” does your name come to mind? The bible tells us that we are to be holy just as Jesus is holy. First Peter chapter one says; “15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” What a sobering command.
While studying Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book Holiness: The Heart God Purifies, I found myself feeling very convicted. It challenged me to take a deeper look at my walk with the Lord and examine my life in ways I don’t normally do. The bible calls me to be holy, yet I have spent most of my Christian life focusing more on other things than on becoming like Christ.
It is sad that I can spend so much time concentrating on my own entertainment or interests, while neglecting to pursue a life of holiness. I can spend time in my word and prayer each day, yet spend even more time watching Netflix or getting on social media. Now, I’m not saying those things are bad, or you have to have a ratio of 3 hours of studying/prayer for every hour you entertain yourself via different outlets—but I do want to stress the importance of evaluating where your focus lies.
Do you spend most of your time thinking about ways to serve God by serving others, being in fellowship with brothers and sisters, studying (not just reading) His word, and spending quality time with Him in prayer? Or do you spend your time thinking of ways to make you happier, feel better, and be entertained? Philippians 4 verse 8 tells us; “8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Paul gives quite a few things for us as believers to think on. Whatever we value most in our minds, we value in our hearts. We find this in Matthew chapter 6 “21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
One of the most convicting things I took from our study on Holiness was the question “Do you take holiness seriously?” My answer at the time was sadly no. Yet, the more I study, the more I learn just how important it is to cultivate a heart that pursues holiness. I have also found that the more I learn and grow, I am blessed with a deeper and more personal relationship with my Creator.
My prayer for those who are reading this is that you would take time to ask yourself that same question I was faced with. Do you take your personal holiness seriously? Do not be too quick to answer. If the answer is no, what can you do to begin your journey into holiness? The deeper fellowship that you will experience is well worth the work!
“22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only,” – James 1:22a