Humility and charity characterize the Augustinian value of service. It is humble service because it is done in the spirit of gratefulness (=utang na loob) and in recognition that the service is owed to God must be rendered to man. It is generous service because love does not count the cost. Indeed, the measure of love is love without measure. Service is love in its dynamic dimension; it is love that builds up the community by being directed towards persons. Jesusí command: "Love one another as I have loved you" is given a concrete gesture: the washing of the disciplesí feet. This gesture is the paradigm of Christian servanthood. The spirit of humble and generous service intended by Augustine finds formulation in Rule 5,2:
No one should seek his own advantage in his work.
Everything you do is for the service of the community,
and you are to work
with more zeal and more enthusiasm
than if each person were merely working for himself
and his own interests.
For it is written of love that
"it is not self-seeking (1 Cor. 13:5);"
that is to say,
love puts the interests of the community
before personal advantage.
Service is love in action. It is not the "Service" offered in gas stations for the customers. This latter refers to the added attention given to those who patronizes oneís products. This kind of "service" is offered in the hope that customers keep coming and sales do not diminish. Augustinian service is explained by T. van Bavel thus:
As far as material provisions are concerned, a person ought not in the first place to be concerned about himself, but about the other... If a person looks after himself only, he utterly disregards the basic law of life in community, that is, love. Augustine supports this position with several references to Paulís hymn in praise of love. "Love is not self-seeking" (1 Cor. 13:5), in other words, it is not loveís aim to serve only its own interests... Moreover, "the way of love is exalted above all other ways" (1 Cor. 12:31). Thus our temporal care for others is given an eternal value, for love is the enduring element in the alleviation of human needs on earth. The needs of human beings are transitory; either they will be alleviated in this life or they will come to an end with death30.
To serve others, therefore, is to live life in the dimension of gift, a project that one lives out in utter gratuity because conscious that life itself has been gratuitously received. "Service" is the dynamic and temporal manifestation of "community." It is, as the old preachers would say, "the horizontal dimension of charity."