Jesus came, takes mom by the hand, lifts her up, and the fever leaves her. What does she do in response? “She began to serve them.”
Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. (Mark 1:30–31)
“I serve because I want to give back a small portion of what I have been given. I want my children to know what it means to live in the ‘land of the free’ and the ‘home of the brave.’ I want others to realize the tremendous honor they have to live in a country based on the highest ideals man has ever seen.”1
With these words, Air Force officer Daniel Gernert shares the reason for his service in the military. In general, “service” is the action of helping others. It is good practice to review our motivation to serve. Whether we are serving under oath, volunteering in a group, or simply helping others, our motivation is an important factor in making our service meaningful.
Peter’s mother-in-law could have taught a class on “Why I serve.” Her story starts with a fever. In the ancient world a fever was not considered a mild condition—as in, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” In those days a fever was seen as an inner fire caused by a curse or a demon that could only be extinguished by God.2 Enter Jesus to the house where Peter’s mother-in-law is laid low with a fever.
From what I’ve read about Peter, even if he lived today with the ability to text ahead to his wife and give a heads-up that he was bringing someone home, I doubt he would have taken advantage of the technology. He was quite impulsive. Case in point: He just left his job to follow a wandering preacher! Imagine the miracle missed if he had been able to call ahead and warn his wife and was told, “The house is a mess and mom is sick. No how, no way, do you bring someone here!”
Thank goodness that was not the case. Jesus came, takes mom by the hand, lifts her up, and the fever leaves her. What does she do in response? “She began to serve them.” Her service is not something menial or demeaning but rather a sign of her physical and mental wholeness. The actions of this woman are proof positive that her healing was complete and her heart was open to Jesus.3 This is a model for any follower of Christ: when he transforms a person, the outpouring of that transformation is service.
Why do you serve others? Is it for social interaction? Is it to be recognized? Is it to do the “right” thing? If your reason for service is not founded in relationship with the Lord then you are missing an area of fulfillment that God intends for you.
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, I desire to serve you with faithfulness. Help me to show your love through my service to others. Amen.
1 Lt. Col. Daniel Gernert, “Why do we serve in the military?” Air Education and Training Command Commentary, accessed July 29, 2014, www.aetc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123-26914.
2 David E. Garland, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary: Mark (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 14.
3 David E. Garland, The NIV Application Commentary: Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 72.