(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
Okay, last time we talked about how we need to be servants, just like Jesus. Now we know that, but how does that translation into real conviction (the heart)? Let’s be look at three convictions we should have as Christians:
- Jesus works through each member of His body through serving to accomplish His purpose.
- We need to be committed to a humble, servant mindset, engaged in ministry to others.
- We should have a commitment to discipleship, in other words, duplicating and multiplying the servant heart.
A servant heart realizes that not all servants have the same responsibilities or gifts. Jesus uniquely blesses each of His children for the specific purpose He has called them to fulfill. This means we should not expect everyone to have the same convictions as us in the areas of liberty or service. It means we shouldn’t expect everyone to do things the way we think they should be done. It means we enjoy the liberty, and allow others to enjoy the liberty, of being led by God to fulfill their service as GOD leads, not as we expect.
The true purpose-driven life is about serving,
not personal happiness or success.
Jesus uses each servant, in a unique way, to not only fulfill His purpose, but to give us purpose for this life as well. That is the true purpose-driven life. Not success, not personal happiness (which only comes when we are truly in God’s will, living God’s life), not a life of fulfilling our own desires… the true purpose-driven life of Christ is the life that serves where ever Jesus leads and whenever Jesus needs.
We need to be committed to the servant mindset. We need to be committed to servant humility. It is a worldview and way of thinking that saturates our entire life and leaves no room to sit around bemoaning our self-esteem, self-worth, self-image and self-love.
There is no SELF in servant.
There is only “serve”.
“Yeah” people say, “but aren’t we supposed to take care of ourselves? Are we really supposed to NOT care about whether we are happy?”
That’s misses the point completely. Living a life of serving, living a life pleasing to God, living a life in obedience to Jesus IS what brings happiness… it is the ultimate in caring for ourselves. Just like the Bible says, if we want real life, we have to give up, lose, sacrifice, lay down our own lives first (John 12:25). It is the single greatest key to personal happiness in all the universe, and one that is universally ignored by the world, and sadly, almost just as ignored by the Church as a whole.
The servant heart also seeks to disciple and teach others about serving. How? Through serving of course. We teach our family, friends and co-workers about being a servant by serving them. We train, mentor and disciple new and weak Christians in the ways of the servant by both demonstrating it (serving them), and teaching them what the Bible has to say about it.
This is a point we would do well to recapture in the modern Church. It seems we now have megachurches full of people who are looking to BE SERVED, rather than looking for an opportunity TO SERVE. This is an expected result of the seeker-friendly, “what’s in it for me”, social Gospel convert that must be constantly entertained, ear-tickled, made comfortable and have endless amounts of personal help and resources available (self improvement, success, lifestyle, emotional support, self worth validation).
Consider these passages (emphasis mine):
- Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (NKJV)
- 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)
- 2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (NKJV)
Ephesian 2:10 tells us that we are each created by God to do the works (service) that He has planned for us. God prepared those good acts of service before we were ever born, specifically for us, to give us a true purpose-driven life (“that we should walk in them”).
In Philipians we find that the genuine servant heart is not SELF-ish, which flies directly in the face of today’s emphasis on self-esteem, self-love, self-worth… self, self, self. Sadly we see the results of this type of thinking in men like Ray Boltz (singer of such famous Christians songs as “Thank You” and “Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb”) who has now learned to love himself and accept himself as the homosexual God made him to be. What deception! What evil this “self esteem” pop psychology has unleashed on the Church!
The servant is unselfish, and has LOWLINESS OF MIND (trying teaching that truth in today’s self-esteem crazed world/church), esteeming others higher than himself.
Now some might say that verse in Philipians implies that we SHOULD esteem ourselves, just esteem others higher. That is as poor (and dangerous) an interpretation as those who teach “love your neighbor as yourself” is God telling us to love ourselves.
Both verses are clearly teaching the real problem: WE LOVE OURSELVES TOO MUCH, which is our natural, fleshly tendency, and that we have to WORK HARD to love others, and esteem others, more than we love and esteem ourselves.
The truth is, it is part of our sin-cursed flesh to be SELF oriented. We have no problem loving ourselves, thinking highly of ourselves, esteeming ourselves, putting our SELF first. The mature and humble Christian admits this fact and REJECTS the “self” teaching of today that has invaded the Church. The Bible tells us to love others and esteem others in response to the obvious: WE OBVIOUSLY LOVE SELF, AND ESTEEM SELF TOO MUCH, TOO OFTEN, AND FIRST. God wants His servant-hearted children to overcome that by loving others, and esteeming others.
Finally, Timothy tells us that we are to take all that we learn as servants and teach the servant-life to others. This is the essence of discipleship and a part of the Christian that most Christians neglect. Are you discipling anyone? Have you ever? Are you teaching anyone how to live like a true Christ-servant?
Next time, we’ll look at some ways to put all this into action (hands).
Lord God, help us to be true servants… humble, putting others first, and teaching others to be servants. 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?