“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13 GW).
What does it mean to “serve one another in love” as quoted above? Well, the answer may depend on how we define “love.” For instance, lets consider the following statements from Jesus…
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another” (John 13:34 HCSB).
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
“I correct and discipline everyone I love…” (Revelation 3:19 NLT).
With these statements in mind, we can say that love involves more than an emotional feeling or external display of affection. We can find a better indicator of genuine love in the defining standards of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” ( 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
If these qualities are reflected in our relationships with others, then we can be assured that we are acting in love. We can also look to a real-life example from the Biblical book of Acts for guidance on serving one another…
“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word'” (Acts 6:1-4 NIV).
In saying, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables,” the Apostles acknowledged their calling to work in a specific area. That calling enabled them to determine how to best serve others. In a similar manner, we can serve one another in love by allowing God’s call on our lives to help determine our primary form of service. That may involve saying “yes” to certain opportunities and “no” to others, just like the Apostles here in Acts chapter six.