Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the importance of serving devotees.
When Achyutānanda went with us to my birth place, some educated people there asked him, “We are so near, but we cannot understand Mahāprabhu. How is it that from far away you have come to appreciate Him? We cannot conceive how you can understand Him clearly.”
guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja
That was his answer. “We are within the limits of His creation, and it is said that from wherever anyone gets sukṛti (spiritual fortune), he may come forward. A few miles of distance—what is that?” I am adding to his answer. There are different casts within the creation. A tree may get sukṛti when its flowers are offered to Kṛṣṇa by a devotee. A cow gets sukṛti when its milk is given to Kṛṣṇa by a devotee. A dog may get sukṛti when it watches over a Temple area and barks. Sukṛti may be distributed in this way to any and every direction. So many leaves are offered to Kṛṣṇa, and thereby vegetables get sukṛti. In connection with the devotee, so many things acquire sukṛti.
The door is open only through the devotee.
spṛśaty anarthāpagamo yad-arthaḥ
niṣkiñchanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat
The medium of His devotee is indispensable. We must have a connection with His devotee. To go to Him, the indispensable necessity is His medium, His devotee. That is the door to enter. It is indispensable.
“I cannot tolerate any criticism against My devotees because their very business, their very tendency, their very existence, is to give Me out to all. If you criticism them, you are committing suicide, you are going to kill your own Guru, the source of your fortune. I cannot tolerate Vaiṣṇava-nindā, Vaiṣṇava-aparādh (criticism of or offences to devotees). I cannot tolerate it. I especially want to serve them, but I cannot. They won’t allow Me to serve them. My inner tendency is to give them something because they are giving Me everything. I want to give them something in return, but I am not eligible for that. So, if anyone comes to do that, I give Myself wholly to them.”
This is the underlying theory. “I always tend to give something to My devotees, but they will not accept anything from Me. Because of love, I cannot go against My devotees, but if anyhow I find someone is doing My work—serving My devotees—I cannot but be inclined towards them with great intensity.”
The Lord said to His servants in Vraja,
“I declare that I fail. I fail to give you something in return, so I am in debt to you. The quality of service that you are rendering to Me is so great that there is nothing in My store to be found that I can give in return. So, I remain indebted to you. The quality of your service is so noble, magnanimous, great, and pure that I have nothing in store to give in return. I am indebted to you.”
sva-sādhu-kṛtyaṁ vibudhāyuṣāpi vaḥ
yā mābhajan durjaya-geha-śṛṅkhalāḥ
saṁvṛśchya tad vaḥ pratiyātu sādhunā