Compassion and kindness are surprisingly common. People all over the world, from every walk of life, are willing to make sacrifices in order to help others. This is an important thing to remember because the call for Christians to shine their light is a call to be known for loving service, above and beyond the cultural norm.
In fact, as you'll discover from the following verses, humble service is one of the hallmarks of the kingdom of God. Here are 15 Bible verses about Christian service.
1. Do not withhold good (Proverbs 3:27)
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
Ask yourself this question: to whom is good due? If you answered "everyone," you're right. This verse is a good companion for Jesus' call to do for others what you would want them to do for you (Luke 6:31). For the writer of Proverbs, withholding the good that you’re able to do is wrong.
2. Lending to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17)
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
Imagine having the Lord in your debt. This is exactly what the author of Proverbs says happens when you're kind to the poor. This is intended to be an incentive. Not only does God see and recognize our service to those in need, but He promises to reward us for them.
3. Let your light shine (Matthew 5:14–16)
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
At one point in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus focuses on the metaphors of salt and light. Light represents the behaviors and activities that others see. Here Jesus makes a direct correlation between the good that the church does and its impact on the people who see these works.
When the church serves others, it glorifies God. People see these kind acts, and it turns their attention to the God the church serves.
4. The greatest will be your servant (Matthew 23:11–12)
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
During one of Jesus' teachings, He warns against the dangers of titles. After pointing out that the Pharisees love being greeted respectfully in the marketplace and called Rabbi. He tells his disciples not to rush to be called Rabbi, father, or instructor (Matthew 23:5–10).
We shouldn't be using our relationship with God to gain attention and respect from others. Instead, Jesus tells the disciples that the greatest among them will be servants. Why does He say this? Because the servant class in first-century Palestine didn't get a lot of respect. No one bowed to the person who washed feet for a dinner party.
The point here is that we're to put others before ourselves and our reputations.
5. Whatever you did for the least of these (Matthew 25:40)
The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus tells a story about two distinct groups of people facing God's judgment. The first are the sheep. And Jesus gathers them around Him and congratulates them on all the wonderful things they did for Him during their life. They visited Jesus in prison, they gave Him a glass of water, they took care of Him when He was sick, etc.
The sheep don't remember doing any of these things. And the Lord tells them that when they did it for "the least of these," they did it for Him.
Adversely, the other group (goats) was turned away for not doing these things for the Lord because they hadn't done them for others.
6. The Son of Man did not come to be served (Mark 10:42b–45)
You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark's Gospel tells the story of James and John coming to Jesus and asking to sit on His right and left when He comes into His kingdom. It's important to understand what this request meant. The most powerful and influential individuals sat closest to a ruler. The people furthest away didn’t have the same amount of authority. James and John weren't just asking to sit closest to Jesus because they were such great pals. They were asking to be given more authority than the other disciples.
Obviously, when the other disciples heard this, they were frustrated. But Jesus reminds them that His kingdom doesn't operate positionally like the other kingdoms. You couldn't recognize a powerful leader from their title or from the seating arrangement. In God’s kingdom, the most influential leaders would be the biggest servants.
7. Give, and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38)
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.
At one point, Jesus tells His audience that if they condemn others, they will also be condemned. If they forgive, they will also be forgiven. And then He launches into this verse. Jesus often talks about God's reciprocity. What you give, you will receive. But when it comes to doing good, God promises to accelerate this truth.
If we are generous, God promises to be even more generous. Why? We might be more condemning and accusatory than God, but we can never, ever be more generous.
8. It's better to give than receive (Acts 20:35)
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Here Paul quotes something Jesus said that didn't make it into one of the gospels. In the past, Bible critics have accused Paul of making a mistake, but when the apostle said this, the gospels weren't readily available yet. Likely, this was a saying of Jesus that was pretty well known.
And it obviously sounds like the Lord. When we accept the truth that it's more blessed to give than to receive, we have to take it on faith. Because sometimes it doesn't feel more blessed to give. But Jesus assures us that—in the long run—you'll be happier about the times that you gave than you are about the times you received.
9. Practice hospitality (Romans 12:9–13)
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Paul offers the church in Rome some very clear and simple rules about how to love well. These include hating what is evil and clinging to what is good. Being devoted to one another and honoring others above one’s self.
This also means living lives that are open to others (hospitality) and sharing with God's people who are in need. Living life with open hands toward other Christians is a critical part of kingdom servanthood.
10. Serve one another humbly (Galatians 5:13–14)
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Freedom is so important, but it should not be used for self-indulgence. Our liberty isn't intended to be spent on ourselves, but poured out in service to others. Here Paul reiterates Jesus' point that entire Old Testament law is fulfilled in loving our neighbor as ourselves.
11. Carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Life has its fair share of burdens, and they're not all shared equally. Some people struggle with great burdens that they didn't ask for or create. The beauty of Christ's body is that as we all share in one another's burdens, and as we do that, they become manageable.
At one point, Jesus told the disciples that the world would know we belonged to Him because of our love for one another (John 13:35). This is one expression of this truth. Everyone hungers for this kind of love and compassion, and when they see God's children treating one another this way, it affirms the truth of the gospel.
12. Value others above yourself (Philippians 2:3–4)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
It's hard to fathom doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vanity, but that's what Paul encourages from the church at Philippi. We should practice humility by looking to the interests of others. What does this mean? Jesus spoke of the same thing when He said, "... do to others what you would have them do to you" (Matthew 7:12a).
Those things you wish others would do for you, do it for them. Imagine what you would want if you were in their position and offer them the same consideration.
13. He will not forget your work (Hebrews 6:10)
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
When it comes to serving others, we’re encouraged to make it an act of faith. The Bible is full of promises that God sees and rewards our sacrificial service. The question is whether or not we have the faith to take Him at His word.
It's essential that we recognize that God values our service so highly that He isn't above incentivizing it with the promise to reward us for it.
14. Do not forget to do good (Hebrews 13:16)
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
If you love the Lord, you want to please Him. It just comes with the territory. Thankfully, we know the kind of things that please the Lord. The writer of Hebrews wants us to know that doing good and sharing with others pleases God.
If you have children, this is easy to understand. Imagine the feeling you get when you see your child being selfless and altruistic towards others. It fills you with pride and joy. Why wouldn't God feel the same way? And, knowing that, why wouldn't we do everything in our power to give Him that pleasure?
15. Above all, love each other deeply (1 Peter 4:8–10)
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.
It's one thing to show hospitality. It's another thing entirely to offer acts of service without grumbling. God doesn't just care about us doing the right thing; He also wants us to do it with the right attitude.
Peter also goes on to tell us that we're to use the gifts we've received to serve one another. Think of your best talents and skills, and then consider ways you can use those abilities to help others.
Ways you can serve others
There are a lot of ways you can serve people individually or through your local church. If you're looking for other ways to serve, check out our How-to-Help page. You'll find a number of suggestions for helping to reach the world abroad and around you!