This week, we conclude our Small World, Big Heart series with a look at serving those closest to us.

In the first week, we explored the power of short-term mission trips in our lives. Last week, we saw the importance of communication and stories for bringing the experience into our living rooms.

Who Am I Serving?

When we think about serving those around us or closest to us, we tend to think about the following groups of people:

  • Homeless
  • Colleagues
  • Church Members
  • Pastors
  • Friends

When we hear or read this list, who is missing from this list?

If you said family, you would be correct. You might have also said, neighbors.

Who Am I Closest To?

If we are being honest, those that frustrate us the most are the ones closest to us – siblings, parents, close friends, and colleagues.

How are we to love and minister to them when they know how to push our buttons?

Parable of the Good Samaritan

Jesus modeled for us unconditional love. One of the most famous parables He told was The Good Samaritan.

Let me summarize it for you.

There was a Jewish man who mugged on the road and left for dead. A religious leader came upon the man in need and kept right on going.

Another religious leader came upon the traveler in need and did the exact same thing as the previous leader.

The third man, a Samaritan (an enemy of the Jews), came upon the injured man. Instead of walking by, he helped the man onto his donkey and took him to the nearest town, and made sure he was cared for.

Jesus asks, which of these men was a friend or a neighbor to the traveler in need? They replied with the third one.

He then instructs them to go and do likewise.1

Have you passed by your family members in the house when they might have needed you to pick them up?

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

Think for a minute…would you say you are judgey? Have you ever been called judgey? I have…and it hurt.

I had to do some real soul searching when someone told me that I was too judgmental.

You might be thinking what does being judgey have to do with serving someone closest to you? I would argue it has everything to do with how we approach others, and how we view them.

In James 2, he says in talking with the brothers and sisters of the church,

“…never think some people are more important than others.” – James 2:1b

He goes on to point out that we often place a higher worth on people who “appear” to have it all together. If they look good, then they must be good, and vice versa.

In 2007, Gene Weingarten writing for The Washington Post published an article titled “Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.

The hypothesis was a famous musician would play, and they would observe and see how people respond. Who was the famous musician? None other than Joshua Bell, a famous violinist who plays a 1718 Strataverias.

The article showed he only made $32 this day, seven people stood to listen, nearly 1,070 people traveled through the area during the 45-minute experiment, and one person recognized him.

Two days before…he played to a standing-room audience in Maryland, and a few weeks before at The Library of Congress.

As the article pointed out, people barely knew someone was playing music, consumed by their own thoughts, and unaware of who was in their presence.

What does this have to do with serving those closest to us?

Wrapped Up In Ourselves

I don’t like to admit it, but I can become consumed with myself, and lose track of the people in my life that need me the most.

In 82 days, I will be getting married (not that anyone is counting). As part of this new chapter in my life, I need to remind myself that there is someone who needs me.

The blessing of family and loved ones is a gift from God; however, if you have aging parents or children with diseases that gift can also feel like a burden at times.

You might find yourself feeling guilty that you think this way, but I want to encourage you…it’s okay to feel this way. What is not okay is if you allow yourself to stay in this feeling and let it turn into bitterness.

If we are not careful, our bitterness can become all-consuming, and drive out the voice of the Lord.

How To Serve Those Closest To Us

By nature, I am easygoing…some may say too easygoing at times. When we serve those around us or closest to us, it’s best to do it in partnership.

When we serve our parents (aging or otherwise), we fulfill God’s command to “honor our fathers and mothers”.2

When we serve our spouses or significant others, we honor them by placing their needs above our own.

When we serve our siblings, we show them honor and love even though it might be difficult.

When we serve our colleagues, whether they appreciate it or not, we fulfill God’s command to love our neighbors.

We could do none of these things, and probably still live a decent life; however, when we do these things with humility and love, we honor them and God’s commandments.

Encouragement & Challenge

I want to encourage and challenge you to serve those who are closest to you. Be on the lookout for ways to honor them. Maybe it's doing the dishes without being asked or taking out the trash or folding the laundry.

Maybe it's curling up on the couch with your spouse when you just want to be alone or leaving a note on the bathroom mirror telling them how much you love them, appreciate them, and value them.

This week, be on the lookout for a way to serve someone close to you whether it be in your family, church family, or work for family. God will let you know how you can best serve them.

As I found out recently…sometimes our short-term mission trip is serving those closest to us, and not across the border.


Lord, thank you for reminding us that serving our neighbor can be in our homes, and not across the border. Please show each one of us who we can serve this week. We thank you and praise you for the gifts you have given us even when we don’t deserve them. Amen!

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  1. The Parable of the Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37 ↩︎
  2. Exodus 20:12 ↩︎

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Hi, I'm Dave Anthold. I am a small group leader, short-term missionary, and visual storyteller. You can read my story here.

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