Everyone enjoys being served, but it often seems like few enjoy serving others. People often don’t mind being called servants, but they do mind being treated as servants. Mature followers of Jesus are marked by what they will do for others without expecting anything in return. A servant loves in their serving.
Christ is Our Example
Christ’s purpose in coming to this world was to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 CSB
Some of the ways Jesus served people:
35 Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. Matthew 9:35 CSB
The Lord demonstrated what it means to be a servant in John 13.
1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 And during supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He tied it around Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the washbasin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel which He had tied around Himself. John 13:1-5 LSB
There is a freedom and security to do menial tasks that we can have in the same way that He had (verse 3).
Verses 14-15 tell us why the Lord served them in the way He served them.
14 “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” John 13:14-15 LSB
Philippians 2:5-11 tells us about Christ’s attitude, His humility, and the result.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV
- What Christ gave up and the position He took is in verses 6-7.
- How He demonstrated His servanthood is in verses 7-8.
- How and when God rewarded Him for His humble and obedient service is in verses 8-11.
Consider that Jesus served even His betrayer. Who are the most difficult people for you to serve? How do you feel about serving them? What specifically can you do to serve them?
Christ’s Desire For You
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. 5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, … Philippians 2:3-5 CSB
How do you feel when you are treated like a servant? How do you deal with these emotions? Can you think of a situation in which you acted out of “selfish ambition or conceit” instead of considering “others as more important than yourself”?
Who We Are Called to Serve
26 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26 NIV
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13 NIV
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10 NIV
During the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus gave the disciples clear instructions about having a servant attitude.
24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 But not so with you; rather the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27 For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:24-27 LSB
- The disciples were arguing about which one of them is to be regarded as the greatest disciple (verse 24)
- The way the world operates is given in verse 25
- The Lord Jesus gave them clear instructions on how the disciples are to conduct themselves (verse 26)
The cause of Christ is empowered by fully devoted followers who get close to Him by seeing themselves as servants to others for the cause of eternity. We must never take for granted the reality that when the God of the universe became a man, He chose to come in the form of a servant (Phil. 2:5-11). It is a staggering thought that out of all the attributes He could have chosen, He chose humility so as to empower us toward growth and glory. Dr. Joseph Stowell, Following Christ
Believers have been set free in Christ. We were not set free so that we do whatever we want. We have been set free to love and to serve. We are no longer under obligation to serve the things of the old life; rather, we are free to voluntarily serve the things of the new life.
18 … and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. Romans 6:18-19 CSB
16 Submit as free people, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16 CSB
13 For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. Galatians 5:13 CSB
Paul saw himself as a servant.
5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5 CSB
He gave his life as a servant.
15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for you. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 2 Corinthians 12:15 CSB
Keys to Being a Servant
Always keep in mind that Jesus is our Teacher and our Lord. He is greater than we are.
13 “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.” John 13:13 NASB95
16 “Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:16 NASB95
Do not develop pride in your serving God and serving others.
10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” Luke 17:10 NASB95
Observing and Meeting the Needs of Others
A servant is observant and aware.
12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
The LORD has made them both. Proverbs 20:12 NKJV
Use your God-given hearing ears and seeing eyes in your relationships with people.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. James 1:19-20 CSB
A servant doesn’t withhold good.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
When it is in the power of your hand to do so. Proverbs 3:27 NKJV
A servant meets other’s physical needs for food, drink, clothing, and relationship.
35 … ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Matthew 25:35-36 NKJV
17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17 NKJV
How can you serve the people listed below in the coming week?
- Spiritual leaders
A Servant Gives
One of the most tangible ways to serve others is to meet their material and financial needs. If you are willing to give what is tangible, you will be more likely to give to other people what is intangible: time, experience, love, life.
Some of the New Testament Principles and Promises Concerning Giving
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 CSB
6 The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6 CSB
8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 CSB
19 And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 CSB
Our motivation for giving is important. It isn’t about obligation but rather a heart of worship and love.
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, the one Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there; Martha was serving them, and Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive nard, anointed Jesus’s feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot (who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor? ” 6 He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of the money-bag and would steal part of what was put in it. 7 Jesus answered, “Leave her alone; she has kept it for the day of my burial.” John 12:1-7 CSB
What was Mary’s motive for giving?
What in general is your motive for giving?
Can you think of a specific person to whom you could give to as described in the verses below?
17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD,
And He will pay back what he has given. Proverbs 19:17 NKJV
14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:14 NKJV
6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Galatians 6:6 NKJV
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? James 2:15-16 NKJV
Evaluate your giving.
- Do you have a giving plan?
- To whom are you giving presently?
- Do you need to change any of your giving practices? If so, what will you do?
5 Have this way of thinking in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although existing in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a slave, by being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:5-7 LSB
How has Jesus served you this week? How have you served Him and others this week?
Points to Remember
- Jesus Christ was not obligated to become a servant, but He did so voluntarily, giving of Himself to meet people’s needs.
- Christ has helped all believers, and their response should be to serve Him and others.
- Believers must “die to self” in order to live for others. Then they are free to be servants.
- A servant must be humble and observant in little things as well as bigger things.
- A servant is a giver—not only of himself, but also of his material and financial possessions. Each believer ought to have a personal plan for financial giving based on scriptural principles.
Things to Ponder
God has given us spiritual gifts to serve others with love. Read about them in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12:4-8. Which of these gifts might you have? How are you currently using or how might you use your spiritual gifts to serve other believers?
The call to humility is a call to serve God with sober minds—with full awareness of our gifts and our limitations. Gordon T. Smith