Spiritual Meaning of Service



All religions teach that to serve others is of paramount importance. Some people feel that we must first serve God, then we can serve others. But if we examine service to God properly, we would find that we cannot really serve God. God is not in need of anything. In fact in, one way or another, God supplies us with all of our needs. We can then say that God is serving us. To truly serve God we must serve others. God needs only our love and our submission to his will which really means to submit to the laws of cause and effect. Whatever we sow, that is what we will reap. In other words, we are creating our own destiny, and we need to accept whatever comes to us as a result

Service may mean different things to different people. For example, some people feel that when they are engaged in their job, that is, rendering service. For example, in Canada 73% of people are listed as employed in “services.” In contrast, China and India list 60% and 63% of the population engaged in agriculture. This does not leave too many people employed in the “services.” Canada lists only 3% of the population engaged in agriculture. This is to show that the services I am discussing in this article are not the employment of people in order to earn their living. People in all countries need approximately the same degree of “services” rendered in a religious or spiritual sense. It is in this latter sense that I am discussing services in this article. But in order for service in this sense to be rendered adequately, there are certain guidelines that we can list as follows:

Service done for personal gain is not service
Service done to impress others is not service
Service done to satisfy ego is not service
Service done in a condescending manner is not service
Service done with strings attached is not service
Service done with hesitation is not service
Service done grudgingly is not service
Service done after persuasion is not service
Service done with boasting is not service
Service done with criticism is not service
Service done because of guilt is not service
Service done as lip service is not service
Service done for fear of criticisms is not service
Service done only to earn a living is not service

Perhaps it is good to mention here what Satguru Kabir said about service:

Service rendered without being requested is equivalent to milk.
Service rendered after being requested is equivalent to water.
Service rendered after being requested, and you argue about it, is equivalent to blood.

Perhaps you can add others along the same lines to show what are not services as long as there are personal motives involved; then we can say that it is not really service in the sense in which this article presents the subject

We may then ask the question what is service? We can give an approximate meaning of what service is. We can say that service is any activity, in thought, word, or deed, which is rendered unselfishly, purely for the welfare of others. It means to give of yourself in every way possible to promote the welfare of others. It is in serving others we can truly serve God. In this context it would be well to remember John Wesley’s Rule which states the following:

Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.

(John Wesley was an 18th century Christian Methodist leader in the Church of England)

There are many examples in the world of people rendering this kind of service. A notable example is the late Mahatma Ghandi of India who remained poor, but served others unhesitatingly. All the great spiritual teachers, saints, and prophets have served others not for any personal gain but only because of love for others. There are many people who volunteer their services, often in foreign and poor countries, for the welfare of others

Why is service so important? Service to others enables us to purify our own actions. We must not have ego and seek personal gain. We need to realize that the soul dwells in all, and that the soul is divine. Recognizing this divinity in all beings allows us to serve them purely for the love of God and his creation. This type of service gives a sense of wellbeing and meaning to life. It makes life sublime and divine.

Jagessar Das

2 thoughts on “Spiritual Meaning of Service”

  1. Mr Dass , thanks for bringing awareness to service . Your insights are much valued and appreciated .
    If we can be mindful ,and practice it , very rewarding .
    In our path we have a prayer
    Grateful for your contributions.
    Many Blessings

    1. Thank you Umerath for your appreciation. As you mentioned, we need to be mindful and practice the spiritual virtues embodied in selfless service. If all people could follow this teaching, can you imagine to beautiful, cooperative life we would all enjoy!

      Blessings to you!

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