Virtue of the Week: Service

Put on a Coat or Build a Fire?

When we are thinking about the virtue of service we need to remember that “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

A revered wise man once journeyed to visit a younger wise man who was known for his spiritual devotion. The older wise man was very much impressed with the young man’s total immersion in prayer and study, and asked the secret of his unwavering piety. The young wise man replied that by concentrating deeply and exclusively on his studies; he was able to ignore any outside influences that might distract him. The older wise man had noticed that many of the nearby villagers from the young wise man’s town were involved in activities that were quite contrary to living a life of virtue. This disturbed the older wise man so he said to the young wise man, “When it is very cold, there are two ways to warm yourself. One is by putting on a fur coat; the other is by lighting a fire. The difference is that the fur coat warms only the person wearing it, while the fire warms anyone who comes near.” The point being that the young wise man should be spending more time teaching and serving the people of his village than in self-indulgent prayer.

Our gifts and blessings are not intended for our use alone, they’re intended to benefit all people – from those in our immediate families to those in larger community. Each of us has been given distinct talents and abilities, and, it’s our duty to share them with others through service. A skill you or I take for granted might fill an indispensable need for someone else, and have a far greater impact than anyone could imagine. A kind word, a caring gesture, for example, might make someone’s day, or encourage an addict to enter rehabilitation, or even convince someone not to commit suicide!

Serving others means acknowledging that you are more than an individual concerned about yourself alone; that you are part of a larger community, and therefore responsible for your neighbor.

Serving others means dispelling the cold by building a fire that warms others as well, instead of just putting on a coat that warms only you.

Videos about Serving others: