I’ve learned that it is guidance that’s given more than 100 times in the New Testament. When a follower of Jesus hears or reads this command, how we respond says a lot about the current condition of our faith.
We all desire to be good, faithful servants of the Lord and of each other.
It’s what scripture calls us to do. But the moment we begin to see what servanthood really requires of us is (too) often the same moment we fall back into selfishness.
The apostle Paul talks a lot about this in his writings. He went through a life-changing encounter when he met Jesus in his journey on the road to Damascus. As he then transitioned from one who persecuted Christians (Saul) to one who became one of our biggest proponents and wrote more than half of the New Testament (Paul), it’s as though he must have had to re-read the entire Hebrew Bible all over again and through a completely different lens. And this time, he began to see Christ Jesus…everywhere!
One of the things he began to see is Jesus’ almost radical call to us to serve and love one another. When it comes to serving and loving, Paul knew where the true motivation to serve and love others comes from. As we continue working to transform our minds, we, too, must adapt and begin to see things from new perspectives.
Our fuel for this kind of radical service to others is found in Christ Jesus, himself. Time and time again throughout the Gospels, we see examples of Jesus loving, serving, and coming to the aid of others. And he asks us to do the same – he calls us to be in humble service to one another.
Luke 22: 24 – 27 (NIV) records it this way:
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
In fact, all 4 Gospels recount Jesus’ admonishment to serve and to do so with humility. It’s the repeating theme that, Jesus came, not to be served, but to serve and that, regardless of our station in life, we are to do the same.
Paul similarly echoes these sentiments and guidance in Philippians 2:1-17 and there are numerous other references throughout the New Testament. If you’d like to review them here is a link to one such listing.
The call to servanthood teaches us:
- Not to act selfishly.
- To treat others as more important than yourself.
- Consider the interests and needs of others above your own.
Did you catch that?
We need to be humble enough to truly listen and consider the interests and concerns of others above our own. Jesus calls us to be servants. But as one of my teachers (Charles Morris) recently asked on his Haven Today radio program, “Why should we:
- …say that our neighbor is more important than us?
- …humble ourselves and not insist on our own rights or our opinions are what count the most?”
And then answered with, “Do you know Him?
If you know Him, are you following Him?
As you follow Him, are you serving others through Him as he requests?
Do not expect that becoming a servant will take place without additional cost.
How easy is it to fall into the trap of first serving ourselves…of becoming our own king and doing what we want before serving the King of Kings?
Yet, Christ remains our supreme example.”
Charles goes on to state, “The Son of God; with all authority and power and wisdom and might, came down from Heaven and personified himself as a servant to all mankind. Even to death and that on a cross.
He took our punishment for our failure to serve others as we’re commanded.
He’s the one to whom every knee will bow and tongue confess on that final day.
Some will bow gladly.
Others will bow in fear.
But everyone will bow.
He is Jesus…the exalted Lord.
And though he initially came as a servant, he’ll come again, in power.
He alone can save.
In our attitude toward servanthood, we must also be careful to not let the enemy allow our differences to become divisions among us or, just as bad, to allow us to think differences are valid reasons for our not being willing to serve one another.
That doesn’t reflect humility and it certainly doesn’t exemplify true, Biblical servanthood.
We can do better.
We must do better.
Service to others comes in many different forms.
It can begin with your simple question, “how can I help?”
Won’t you join me again today, in submission to Him?
May we be a people who continuously pray,
“Sovereign Lord, please extend your grace and have mercy on us as we endeavor to carry out your will in our lives that we serve one another.
Right here with you,
A few questions to ponder this week:
- When have your served others and felt better for doing so?
- What are some specific actions you might take or what do you need to re-prioritize in your life in order to put others first?
- Where is God calling you to serve?
- Who has God put in your path recently that you could legitimately serve?