“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!”Luke 6:31 MSG – Jesus
Whenever I think about these words of Jesus, I ask myself, “How in the world does he expect me to do this? Doesn’t he see me? How can I possibly serve others when I myself am in a wheelchair? Am I not exempt from serving others because of my disabilities? Am I not the one that needs serving?”
His words have a way of rattling my cozy preoccupation with serving myself. They make me feel uncomfortable. They’re so counterintuitive and countercultural. Perhaps that is why I still feel like such a novice at serving others. But against all odds, God is challenging and changing my attitude of complacency, helping me to serve others.
If I am ever going to take his words seriously, I first need to remember that he has always served me in the self-sacrificial way he calls me to live out. I am humbled to see how Jesus gave himself so selflessly for me. He had everything in heaven and could have lived eternally content serving himself, paying no attention to me. Yet, he left all his glory in heaven to give his life in service and sacrifice for me.
I never grow tired of contemplating the depths of his love for me. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16 (ESV). As a follower of Jesus, I am invited and empowered by him to serve others with love, because he first loved me.
But God’s love is far more costly than my notions of love. He calls me to help and serve people everyday, not just when I feel like it or when I can receive something in return. To be honest, I am intimidated by the thought of following the selfless example of Jesus. He continually puts people’s needs first, ahead of his own.
How can I possibly deny myself and put others before me like Jesus did? It’s very hard for me to do, especially since I live in a generation that tells me that my life is all about serving myself. If it was up to my efforts alone to achieve such selflessness, I would despair and give up. But I am seeing God’s Holy Spirit is at work helping me put away my own selfish desires and put others needs first!
When I use my disability as an excuse not to serve, it shows the motive of my heart is to put myself first. I can sometimes allow my inability to excuse me from my ability in the Holy Spirit. I have to adjust my expectations to be sure, but I can always do something to serve others.
Despite my limitations God is showing me there are always places I can serve others. I have been blessed to serve in formal contexts at camps, sunday school, and church.
But most of the time, I can find opportunities to serve in small and personal ways. Currently God has led me to encourage a younger friend in high school who has the same disability as me. I try to pray for her often. I enter into her struggle with depression and can easily remember what anxieties high school brought for me. I can relate to her, and help her navigate the ups and downs from a perspective of faith, hope, and prayer.
As you can see, God is showing me that my disability doesn’t excuse me from serving others. I cannot give in to temptation, and let my disabilities get in the way of obeying the words of Jesus and putting others before myself. Even though my service may be limited and I sometimes make mistakes, I am learning to imitate God’s heart and serve people.
Finally, I have learned that serving others blesses me and gives me hope. When I help or encourage someone, it feels amazing! Sometimes they express they are blessed. I just feel like God is smiling down at me and cheering me on. I hope that you are encouraged to put others first because I know what a blessing it will be for you to serve others.
Take a moment and think about how much Jesus sacrificed for you. What excuses do you tell yourself as to why you cannot serve? In light of his example, his command and his empowerment, consider how you can serve others and most importantly think about them before yourself.
About the Author
She also gives some of her time mentoring a high school student who lives with the same disability. Olivia enjoys giving presentations to her former elementary school educating students about disabilities and how to treat people with disabilities. In her spare time she reads, sings, travels, swims and spends time with family and friends.