Service is to do something to help someone. `Abdu’l-Bahá says: "To live the Life you must be the very kindest woman, you must be the most pure, you must be absolutely truthful, and live a perfectly moral life. Visit your neighbors when they are sick or in trouble, offer your services to them, try to show them that you are longing to serve them. Feed the poor, divide what you have. Be contented to remain where God has placed you; be faithful in your care of those to whom He has trusted you, never waver in this. ..." Star of the West Vol 19 number 3.
`Abdu’l-Bahá says that God has trusted us with these people. As a parent, our children have been trusted to our care. As a teacher, the students have been trusted in our care, for a doctor, the patients have been trusted to his care and so on. Now, all the persons I meet have been trusted to my care.
Then `Abdu’l-Bahá continues with: "show by your life you have something different, so that all will see and will say, 'What has this person that I have not?' Show the world that in spite of the utmost suffering, poverty, sickness, you have something which gives you comfort, strength and peace -- that you are happy -- serene -- satisfied with all that is in your life. Then they, too, will want what you possess and will need no further teaching after you tell them what it is."
In Paris Talks (page 81), `Abdu’l-Bahá says: "Therefore strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers." So another kind of prayer is actions, and actions can become prayers. Then `Abdu’l-Bahá continues with: "Turn towards God, and seek always to do that which is right and noble." He elaborates this with a list of what this is. He says: "Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute! This is the work of a true Bahá'í, and this is what is expected of him. If we strive to do all this, then are we true Bahá'ís, but if we neglect it, we are not followers of the Light, and we have no right to the name. God, who sees all hearts, knows how far our lives are the fulfillment of our words."
Love must be expressed in action. We may think we love people but if it is not manifested in action, it is not love. It is just a wish. The quickest way to love someone is to serve them. In many prayers we read about "nearness to God". What does this mean? `Abdu’l-Bahá explains that "nearness is likeness" `Abdu’l-Bahá says: "Bahá'u'lláh proclaims in the Hidden Words that God inspires His servants and is revealed through them. He says, "Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation." Therefore, we learn that nearness to God is possible through devotion to Him, through entrance into the Kingdom and service to humanity; it is attained by unity with mankind and through loving-kindness to all; it is dependent upon investigation of truth, acquisition of praiseworthy virtues, service in the cause of universal peace and personal sanctification. In a word, nearness to God necessitates sacrifice of self, severance and the giving up of all to Him. Nearness is likeness." Promulgation of Universal Peace page 148.
So nearness is likeness. Nearness is not a physical closeness to something but being like something. `Abdu’l-Bahá chose the name of `Abdu’l-Bahá, the servant of Baha. Of all the nouns, of all the titles he had been given by his Father, of all the titles he could have chosen for himself, he chose `Abdu’l-Bahá. Close to the end of his life, he was knighted and given the title Sir Abbas Effendi. He was knighted for his service to the poor during the first world war, not for being a Bahá’í. `Abdu’l-Bahá says that we should not sit by the sandals wishing to be in the front. You know, in the mosques, people sit but they leave their sandals before entering the room. So those who sit far behind sit close to the sandals listening to the one sitting in the front. By this is meant that we should not pretend to be humble but wish to be in the center. You have to serve the poor, the downtrodden and so on but also the other Bahais.