Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
We are studying five primary goals of the Christian life, taking each goal in three steps of natural progression: knowledge (head), conviction (heart), and action (hands). All five goals are:
- Living Like Christ
- Proclaiming Christ
- Serving Like Christ
- Worshipping Christ
- Fellowship in Christ
So far we’ve learned that we must live like Christ and we must proclaim Christ. To demonstrate the authenticity of both, and to realize THE most fulfilling and God-pleasing life we attain, our next goal is to SERVE like Christ. In keeping with the pattern for this series, we will learn (head) some of what the Bible says about serving (I say “some” because ‘servanthood’ could be volumes of lessons), then we will learn how it should change our life (heart), and finally, practical steps to serving others (hands).
It has been several weeks since I wrote the last part of this lesson because my daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia, and things have been pretty out of sorts. However, I’m glad for the time since then because I have seen Christian service modeled in many different ways during that time. My wife and I have served our daughter and family. Our family has served us by helping in countless ways take care of the other kids while much of our attention had to be on Abby. Our Christian family has served us in a list of ways, helping at every turn, over and above what we could have ever imagined or asked for.
So the real life lessons about serving I’ve watched in the past six weeks, will make bringing you a lesson about serving more real-life and substantive.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (NKJV)
First of all, you may wonder WHY we must be servant-minded, servant-hearted. While we could give an entire list of reasons, only one is necessary: because Jesus served us. Jesus is our role model. He lived life for us as a demonstration and inspiration that we must imitate.
Jesus came to serve when He deserved to be served by others. He was perfect. We are full of sin and wickedness. He was humble. We are prideful and selfish. He healed, loved and saved. We hurt, hate and kill. This leaves us without excuse or reason NOT to serve others. If Jesus came to serve us, how much more should we then serve each other?
Don’t pass over this point lightly, or too quickly. STOP for minute and think about it. If your life is not characterized by a servant attitude, by acts of service, and by a love for serving, then what does that say? Are we better than Jesus? Do we deserve more than Jesus? Are we to be served by others, and think primarily of ourselves, while the King of the Universe washes feet and dries tears?
What we think about SERVING affects every aspect of our Christian life.
John 13:14-17 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (NKJV)
Service to others is maybe the single most foundational characteristic of a mature, victorious Christian life. Service is the outpouring and fruit of genuine love. All the praying, giving, studying and Church involvement in the world means nothing if there is no love (1Cor 13:1-13). Love is made manifest most tangibly by our servant attitude towards all those around us. A true Christian demeanor of service is a mixture of humility, self sacrifice, deference to others, eternal perspective and obedience.
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. (NKJV)
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31… you’ll find that we are all parts of one body. Just like the human body has many parts, the Church body is made up of different parts working as one. We all have different functions of service. The Shepherd who teaches is no more honored or valuable than the widow who gives her time to comfort the sick. The doctor who heals the sick is no more valuable than the person who gives cares for the orphan. The wealthy who give large sums of money to missions work are no more valuable than the man who fixes the broken water heater at the elderly couple’s house.
God does not measure service by quantity or type.
He measures service by attitude and motivation.
We have no need of measuring or comparing our service to what others have done. We need only to pray, ask God what He would have us to do, and then obey with all our heart. If God says “take them a meal” and you do, you have been a good and faithful servant. If God say “sell all you have, and give it to the poor” and you do, then you have been a good and faithful servant. If God says, “go to the nursing home, and spend time with the lonely and forgotten”, and you obey… then you are a good and faithful servant.
We must not judge a “servant’s heart” by what we see on the outside (Luke 21:1-4). We must not compare our own service to others. We our only accountable to God, for what God leads us to do personally with respects to serving. No man, Christian leader, or church organization should impose standards of service on individuals. On the other hand, we must be careful that we are not trying to put on an image that is not true so that we look more ‘servant-hearted’ to others than we really are (Acts 5:1-11).
Finally, being a true servant helps us to mature, protects us spiritually, and keeps us anchored in the truth:
Ephesians 4:11-16 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (NKJV)
I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons so many Christians are chasing after sensationalism and supernatural experience, being “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” today is because:
At least to them. Who wants to take clothes to the poor when we can go to the “miracle healing service”? Who wants to visit the sick and imprisoned when we can hear stories about visits to heaven, and people being raised from the dead through the television? Who wants to minister, confront and counsel those who have gone astray when we can fill our own storehouses through ‘seed faith’ and ‘prosperity’ living?
Servanthood is not flashy, doesn’t usually come with any recognition and requires us to give ourselves away (time, money, emotion, strength). There’s not much in it for US, humanly speaking. However, there is nothing more Godly, more rewarding (both eternally and temporally), more fulfilling or more enriching than being the servant God calls you to be.
The Christian life is OPPOSITE of the world: gain your life by giving it away; be fulfilled by fulfilling others; take care of yourself by caring for others. A servant heart is the basis for spiritual growth, fellowship with God, obedience, humility, contentment and happiness (just to name a few). A few verses to consider:
- Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (NKJV)
- Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good [serve] to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. (NKJV)
- 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. (NKJV)
- Romans 15:2-3 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” (NKJV)
- Mark 9:35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (NKJV)
Do you want to be truly GREAT? There’s nothing wrong with that ambition done right:
- Matthew 20:26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. (NKJV)
We should WANT to be great… in God’s eyes… where it will count for all eternity. Who cares if we are great to MAN. That means nothing, and only lasts a few short years. Be a servant. Be great. Be great in a way that counts for all eternity.
In the next part of this series, we’ll look at how you take this knowledge of servanthood (head), and have it become the conviction of your life (heart).
Lord God, help us to seek true greatness by becoming the servant You want us to be. Help us to see how Jesus served, and imitate Him. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?