While space will not allow an indepth exegesis, it is hoped that the following highlights drawn from several New Testament passages will draw our attention to a few vital principles that describe the spiritually mature quality of living as servants. Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink? Rather, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father. But whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.
Living in the Vision of God | Dallas Willard
A consideration of Matthew and Mark shows us that there are basically two options open for people. Either we will seek to serve ourselves, a choice that nullifies our capacity to live as disciples, or we will learn to live as servants out of a faith relationship with God through Christ. When we serve money, we are really serving ourselves and our own desires for what we think money will purchase like significance, power, pleasure, security, or status.
Money is not evil and having it is not evil, but if it becomes our master, it controls our values, priorities, and pursuits rather than God, and that is evil see 1 Tim. Christ shows that His organization or organism, the body of Christ, is to function on the basis of service or servant-like ministry to others. A mother approached the Lord, probably at the request of her sons, and sought a position of status for them.
Foolishly thinking that such status would give them happiness and significance, they wanted positions of authority, praise, and power. Rather than thinking with the mind of Christ Phil. Thus, if they were to serve as His disciples, their thinking and orientation needed drastic transformation see Rom. Naturally, the model for mature spirituality and leadership and all Christian living is the Lord Jesus. It is instructive to note that in this context of serving, He spoke of Himself as the Son of Man.
This was a favorite designation of Himself one used some 90 times and a Messianic title based on Daniel As such, it linked Him to the earth and to His mission, but it also stressed His pre-eminence, dignity, and authority see Luke ; John In other words, He came to serve in order to set men free to be the people God had created them to be. Since in this passage the Lord was correcting the thinking of His disciples, this clearly illustrates how we need to spend time with Him in His Word that we might allow His life and the teaching of Scripture to transform our thinking and thus our sources of trust, aspirations, and actions.
When the other disciples got wind of the request of the two, they became indignant and a certain degree of division occurred among the disciples. This shows how longing and striving for position, power, and praise quickly ruins relationships in the body of Christ and creates disunity and division. Servant living does the opposite. Principle: the purpose of serving others is to set them free to love and serve God, not to make them our servants or to serve our wants or needs. We are all responsible to serve one another, but never in order to be served or to satisfy our immature cravings.
We see again that one of the greatest hindrances to service or servant living is the desire for some form of exaltation—position, praise, prestige, and power. Those who take the secular route so typical of the world and who exalt themselves will eventually be humbled. They will not only eventually lose the very status they seek, but if they are believers, they will also lose rewards in the kingdom.
List of Latin phrases (full)
Following the statement of verses , the Lord began to pronounce woes on the Pharisees who typically longed for status and praise. These woes illustrate some of the consequences when men fail to live as servants. Instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves.
Is it not the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. This scene presents a graphic picture of how preoccupation with self-centered interests position, praise, and acceptance by others ruins our capacity to even properly worship and relate to the person and work of the Savior. Because they were seeking their happiness and significance by trying to manage their own affairs they were blinded to what He was seeking to teach them and to what His life meant to them. Servant living will be rewarded in the future.
Therefore, one of the keys to effective service is faith and constant orientation with the weight of eternity 2 Cor. When we seek our reward now through the praise of men as did the Pharisees, we lose the power of God on our lives and ministries and we lose rewards in the future cf.
But why do we do that? He had loved his own who were in the world, and now he loved them to the very end. Perhaps no passage illustrates the source and nature of the heart of a servant more than John Here, in the upper room on the night before His crucifixion the Lord Jesus dramatically drove home the issue and nature of what it means to be a servant. Imagine the scene. All had been prepared for this last meal with the disciples with the exception of one thing.
According to the custom of the day a servant, with a basin of water and towel in hand, would wash the feet of the guests who had walked down the dirty, dusty roads of Palestine. But who would take the position of this servant and perform the task? I can just see the disciples looking around expecting someone else to do this, but never for a moment considering it himself. Then out of the blue, as a perfect picture and lesson of servanthood, the Lord Jesus rose to the task, laid aside His outer garment, put a towel around his waist, took water in a basin and began washing the feet of the disciples, all of which was a fitting analogy of yielding His privileges and assuming the role of a slave.
Jesus was completely aware of His sovereign authority, His origin, and coming destiny as He submitted and depended by faith in what the Father was doing cf. Thus, in that confidence, He voluntarily took the place of a slave and washed the feet of His disciples.
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His thinking and action contrasts sharply with the self-seeking insecurity of the disciples, none of whom were willing to pick up the towel and take the place of a servant cf. This attitude, faith, and action portrayed His entire ministry on earth cf. But this also demonstrates how servant living is accomplished in us—through faith and understanding of who we are in Christ and by confidence in the eternal glories of the future.
After Jesus finished washing the feet of the disciples, He returned to His place and made this very pointed application:. Ironically, and contrary to the thinking of the world, true blessing comes in serving others. This classic passage on the humiliation of Christ verses is here set forth as the supreme example for unselfish servant living for Christians.
The apostle presents the Lord Jesus as One who, in his supreme superiority, manifests what is the model for all Christians; it points us to the humility needed to live as servants of others. Though existing in the form of God with all the rights and prerogatives of deity, Christ Jesus emptied Himself by taking on the form of a slave , by becoming true humanity.
Christ veiled His deity and voluntarily laid aside the right to use and manifest His divine prerogatives in submission to the Father. In doing this, He humbled Himself that He might die even the death of the cross.
It is what can be called the response condition. Paul was not questioning the reality of these blessings in Christ. Rather, he used the first class condition as a kind of rhetorical device to get the reader to think through the issue and respond properly. The point is there is encouragement, comfort by love, and fellowship in the ministry and power of the Spirit, and the result—compassion and mercy that all believers should have for others. The goal and result must be servant living, living as expressed especially in verses The home was characterized by poverty.
He did not come into a royal home so that He might be respected as heir apparent even though He has the right to rule this earth. His station in life was that of a servant. A servant is characterized not so much as a person to be despised, but as someone without rights; a servant submits himself to the will of his master.
The One who had all the rights that belonged to the eternal Son of God gave up the exercise of these rights; He came into the world as a servant who has no rights but is subject to the authority of another. The real test of whether we are truly maturing and learning to become a Christ-like servant is how we act when people treat us like one. Even when engaged in religious or humanitarian works, selfish pursuits can so easily come to the surface.
While there are undoubtedly many reasons for this, two fundamental concerns come to mind that I would like to address. The Christian community generally understands they are to live as servants, but our preoccupation with our own significance robs us of the ability to serve. Part of the problem is that in our society today such a selfish pursuit is no longer seen as a neurosis or as a disorder. In fact, it is not only seen as natural, but it is presented as a legitimate need and something everyone should pursue.
see It is more important today that children feel good about themselves than learn their ABCs. But the problem is that the world is searching for significance in all the wrong places and by all the wrong means. A search for significance as it is promoted by the world naturally produces the opposite of servanthood. It produces extreme selfishness and aberrant behavior. People today often wear themselves out, overtly demonstrating the Christian model while inwardly they are actually serving in order to feel better about themselves or to gain position, praise, acceptance, etc.
Again, such behavior stems from the worldly model that operates by a different world viewpoint. As a result, many people serve in various capacities in the church from a host of false agendas. If we are not extremely careful and constantly check our motives, we can fool ourselves. We can be engaged in all kinds of service while actually serving our own neurotic needs—desires for acceptance or feelings of significance or for control or for praise, position, power, and prestige.
We can serve to feel important rather than because we love people and the Lord and because we are resting in who we are in Christ, complete in Him. We live in a self-centered society that wants comfort and happiness. It is also a society that wants to be served by others. Paul immediately, therefore, points his readers to their responsibilities in Christian ministry Rom.
Again, in the realm of surrender and sacrifice, the Lord Jesus is our perfect example. Therefore, as He was willing to sacrifice and surrender that He might serve our needs become our Redeemer and Advocate , so we are to be willing to serve, surrender, and sacrifice to meet the needs of others as a display of the mind of Christ Phil For the Christian, then, this means a knowing the Word which identifies the true needs of people and then b working in the power of the Spirit to meet those needs according to our gifts, opportunities, and abilities see Acts ; Col.
It also means caring about people and getting to know them personally so we can help meet their particular needs as we are given opportunity, as we have ability to do so, and as the Lord provides a way to do so. In Him we are complete Col.