One of the most significant kinds of growing we can do is in serving Christ and serving others. The Apostle Paul mentored several young men into their roles as Christian leaders in the first century. Everyone is aware of Timothy because of the two letters that Paul wrote to him from prison that are part of the New Testament. But there were several others mentioned in the New Testament also. There was Luke, John Mark, Silas, Titus, Onesimus, Philemon and many others. There was one young man from Colossae named Epaphras. When Paul was in prison in Rome, the church at Colossae sent this man to visit Paul and to encourage him. When Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians, he spoke about Epaphras, and said, “Epaphras sends greetings. He is one of you. He serves Christ Jesus. He is always praying hard for you. He prays that you will stand firm in holding to all that God has in mind for us. He prays that you will continue to grow in your knowledge of what God wants you to do.” Colossians 4:12

There are several Spiritual gifts that we are all exhorted to exercise. Some have a special gift with regards to “giving.” Paul includes that one as one of the Spiritual gifts in his list of gifts. Ones with that gift have been specially blessed by God to make money in ways that most of us never experience in life. Paul expects them to be extra-generous. But all of us are challenged to give. Some have the special gift of evangelism and seem to reach people that others cannot. Yet nearly all the writers of the New Testament charge every Christian with the duty of sharing their faith with others. Service, itself, is one of the spiritual gifts, but we’re all called to serve.

Paul intimately connects the call to serve others with the new freedom that comes to us through our faith in Jesus Christ. The book on Christian liberty, Galatians, corrects false teachings regarding the role of doing good deeds and avoiding bad deeds as they relate to our salvation. We are set free from the confines of the law and that is one of the greatest enablements in the world. It’s surprising what I can do when I don’t “have to.” It seems like my whole life was lived under a system built on “have to”, “need to”, “ought to,” and “should of” kind of thinking. Removing the necessity of works sets me free. The question then becomes what are you going to do with all this freedom? Here’s what Paul says in his conclusion to the Galatians: “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.” (Galatians 5:13)

“Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully.” 1 Peter 4:10