God in himself, for himself, does not need to be served, worshipped, praised, loved. Our good deeds do not benefit God himself. He gains nothing by our words, actions, love. That is part of our classical Catholic teaching. Human beings gain by our serving God, by loving God, by doing God’s will; and of course the one who truly loves and does good benefits by his or her own actions. One could then argue—and some have—that all talk about “serving God” is irrelevant; that what should be taught is, “Serve your fellow human beings.” Well, the logic may seem sound, the argument appealing, but it is flawed and even dangerous.
Truly to serve your fellow human beings, you need to love truth, goodness, beauty, and to act with justice and self-control. Because of our flaws and lack of virtues, human beings in themselves are often less than fully lovable. And yet one loves human beings because of dignity and potentials, which are not rooted in ourselves, but in God. There is no goodness that is not grounded on God; and no genuine love that is not ultimately God’s love flowing through a human being. The best way to serve one’s fellow human beings is to love truth and goodness—and ultimate truth, which we call God. To try to “serve one’s fellow human beings” without openness to divine goodness throws one back onto the resources of his own finite self. We see the results in public figures, such as media stars and politicians: they talk about “serving others,” but often much of self-service and self-exaltation shine through, rather than the beauty of God.
To serve God: to seek God, to put His will into practice, to strive to act justly and as kindly as possible towards one’s fellow human beings, to help tend God’s creation with due respect for each creature. One can imagine the LORD’s voice speaking about every creature and the whole of creation: “Who honors you, honors Me.”