"For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, 'Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.'" (Romans 15:8-9 ESV)
What are our goals when we serve others? It may be to bear burdens, be a listening ear or helping hand, or to bring comfort and encouragement. All of these are worthy aims as we minister to others. I was struck in reading this passage this morning how Christ came as a servant with some specific purposes. Three are listed here:
1) He came to "show God's truthfulness" (literally, "on behalf of God's truth"). This could be truth as in reality, but also more likely, with the connotation of God's truthfulness, i.e., his dependability and trustworthiness. See John 18:37..."for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth." Our role, too, in ministry is to point people to God, his trustworthiness, and the truth of his Word. I can comfort, bring encouragement, and console, but ultimately I need to lead people to trust God.
2) He came "in order to confirm the promises". He came as a fulfillment of all that was promised to the forefathers: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27) We too want to point people to the promises of God: "...he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature..." (2 Peter 1:4) And ultimately we serve people by showing them that all our needs are fully met in Christ himself: "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him." (2 Corinthians 1:20)
3) He came "in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy". Jesus came not just to redeem Israel, but that grace might be shown to all the nations. Our service should result in others giving praise and songs to God for his mercy. The end result is that God would be glorified (honored, enjoyed, delighted in) because of his merciful and gracious dealings with us. And this gratitude should overflow and affect others.
So when I minister to people, or meet with others, these are things I can pray for our times together: that God would be seen as true and trustworthy, that his promises (and Christ himself) would be embraced for all their needs, and that praise and joy would rise to God for his grace and mercy.