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  • Shawn Thornton

True Service vs. Self-Righteous Service

Sunday - September 5th

Scripture to Read Today: Philippians 2:1-8

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.

Philippians 2:3-4



In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster provides one of the best resources on the various spiritual practices, or disciplines, that help us flourish in Christ. I first read Foster's book when I was in high school. God used it to help shape my spiritual journey for the rest of my life.


My favorite chapter from Celebration of Discipline is the chapter on the discipline of service. In it, Foster references what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4. Paul tells us to be looking out for the well-being of others over our own well-being. He explains that is how Jesus lived. We are to serve others like Jesus - in true, selfless, not self-righteous service. Foster provides a comparison of True Service and Self-Righteous Service. Examine your own life and service by prayerfully reviewing the comparison Foster provides.


True Service vs. Self-Righteous Service


Self-righteous service comes through human effort.

True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside.


Self-righteous service is impressed with the "big deal."

True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.


Self-righteous service requires external rewards.

True service rests contented in hiddenness.


Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results.

True service is free of the need to calculate results.


Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve.

True service is indiscriminate in its ministry.


Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims.

True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need.


Self-righteous service is temporary.

True service is a lifestyle.


Self-righteous service is without sensitivity. It insists on meeting the need even when to do so would be destructive.

True service can withhold the service as freely as perform it.


Self-righteous service fractures community.

True service, on the other hand, builds community.


Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, "The Discipline of Service."


As we seek to live and love like Jesus, we need to cultivate a life of true, selfless service.


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