Servant of Jesus Christ
A Servant Of Jesus Christ
In the New Testament, of the terms which are used to describe Christians is the term "servant": "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus" (Romans 1:1); "And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome" (2 Timothy 2:24); "For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5).
The Concern Over Greatness
At times we find the disciples of Jesus arguing over who was the greatest among themselves, "And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest" (Luke 22:24). What is tragic about this concern, is that Jesus had just told them that one of them would betray Him (22:21-23), but they seemed more concerned about their own personal rank, prestige and recognition. Most probably this dispute among the disciples was the immediate cause of the Lord’s action in washing their feet, as described in John 13. "When He noticed---we may thus picture the course of events to ourselves—how full of self-seeking and personal ambition His disciples still were, even after all His previous teachings, He stood up without a word, girded Himself and washed their feet. When He had finished this and all were again seated quietly around the table, He uttered the words recorded in Luke 22:25-30.How forcibly these words would have spoken to the disciples under those circumstances! The rulers and leading men of earthly kingdoms act with outward power and make their inferiors realize very thoroughly that they are their rulers. Obviously, under such circumstances there is a constant competition among the earthly rulers—whosoever acts with the most dominating force is regarded as the most important. In addition, earthly potentates are often so conceited that they claim the title of ‘benefactors’---they look for fame and honor which they even extort forcibly" (Luke, NICNT, Norval Geldenhuys, p. 562). In like manner, Christians need to realize that we are surrounded by the same temptation. We live in a society which has idolized the individual and his or her rights. Furthermore, prestige, power and position are still very powerful temptations. F. LaGard Smith, in commenting upon why some of his liberal brethren are moving towards accepting the denominations, says, "What I think is happening is that some of us are so thrilled to be asked to dance that we don’t want to spoil our welcome by posing hard questions. On our euphoria over being liberated enough to wash the feet of the celebrated denominational preacher, are we reserving time either publicly or privately to hammer out what Scripture really teachers about baptism?" (Who Is My Brother? p. 74). Unfortunately, apostasy can often start when we lose sight of the fact that we are servants of God and others, and instead want human praise, earthly recognition and power (Acts 20:30 "to draw away the disciples after them"; 3 John 9 "Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them"-"loves to push himself forward" (Tay); "loves to have the foremost place" (Wey). "Serving" has become a lost art in our society. Instead of serving their families, men argue that they need time and space for themselves, female subjection has become a dirty word, employees are convinced that management owes them something, and there is very little respect for civil government. Even Christians can lose sight of the fact that our fundamental mission is to serve. We have been so influenced by our society at times that even Christians balk at such passages as, 1 Peter 2:13 "Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution"; 2:20 "Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable"; 3:5-6.
One of the common Greek words rendered "servant" in the New Testament is the term "diakonos": "It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 20:26); "But the greatest among you shall be your servant" (23:11); "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all" (Mark 9:35). The fundamental meaning of this word is one who waits on tables. In addition, Vine notes, "The word is probably connected with the verb dioko, to hasten after, pursue (perhaps originally said of a runner)" (p. 272).
Points To Note: 1. What type of service do you appreciate from a waiter? All of us want a waiter to be prompt, polite, efficient, happy to see us, eager to serve and not flustered by our requests or the unexpected. And poor service at a restaurant can in fact spoil the entire experience. 2. Do you see yourself as a spiritual waiter? As one who is eager, and runs to serve others. Do you offer service, but complain, do you serve, but let others know that they are really being an inconvenience? Remember what Peter said, "Be hospitable to one another without complaint" (1 Peter 4:9)? There are so many people in this world like the Pharisees, who do sacrifice, but they want people to know how much they are giving! (Matthew 6:16) 3. When we serve are we cheerful, or do we view such service as a burden and inconvenience? Paul said, "He who gives, with liberality; he who leads with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:8). That is, no one should attempt to show mercy in a half-hearted or indifferent way. Greater damage can be done, if the one receiving mercy gets the impression that the one showing the mercy is tired of them or resentful. 4. Do we serve half-heartedly, as if we would rather be doing something else? We encounter waiters (and other people in the "service industry"), who view customers as people who are getting in the way of getting their job done. But do we view our Christianity in the same light? Do we say to ourselves, "Well, once I do my Christian duty today, I can get on to the real fun?" Paul said, "And since we have gifts differing according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them….if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching.." (Romans 12:6-7). "If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well" (Tay). "The imperative phrase: ‘In that ministry!’ throws the field wide open and bids the Romans plunge in" (Lenski p. 763). Sometimes Christians will say to themselves, "Well, I’ve been doing this for awhile, and I’ve put in my time, I’m going to stand aside and let someone else do it". But Paul says, "What are you good at? Well, then keep on doing it!" Peter said, "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified" (1 Peter 4:10-11). Just as poor service keeps you from returning to any establishment, so poor service rendered by Christians can turn people off from the gospel.
"As To The Lord"
We can balk at serving others, or giving them our best effort, time and energy, because we might be tempted to say, "but they don’t deserve it". Or, "but they haven’t done anything for me lately". God quickly reminds us, that we aren’t serving others because they deserve such service, but rather, in serving them, we are in reality serving God. God said to slaves or employees, "With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men" (Ephesians 6:7). God tells wives, "Wives, but subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (5:22); and children, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord" (6:1); and citizens, "Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him" (1 Peter 2:13-14). In serving others, we are actually serving God. God is asking us to serve others, not because others have earned the right to be served, but because such service will glorify God and make others take a serious look at Christianity and the gospel message.
"Imitators Of Christ"
"Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). And the pattern which Jesus set for us to imitate is a pattern of service and self-sacrifice. "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28); "Yet not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42); "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant" (Philippians 2:5,7). The word "form" here means, "The special or characteristic form or feature of a person…..properly the nature or essence" (Vine p. 123). Jesus is the very nature and essence of Deity (Hebrews 1:3). In fact, Vine says concerning the word "existing" in the above passage, "Denotes to be, to be in existence, involving an existence or condition both previous to the circumstances mentioned and continuing after it" (pp. 60-61). Jesus also took upon Himself the essential nature of a servant. In fact, could we not say, that at the very heart of God, is the heart of a servant? (John 3:16) When Jesus washed the disciples feet (John 13:4-15), was this something new in the character of God, or something new for God? Or, has God been washing our feet since the Garden of Eden?
The Early Church
The Early Christians took very seriously the command to love and serve others. Tertullian reported that the Romans would exclaim, "See how they (Christians) love one another!" (Apology, chapter 39). Justin Martyr said, "We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hated and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies" (First Apology, Chapter 14). "When a devastating plague swept across the ancient world in the third century, Christians were the only ones who cared for the sick, which they did at the risk of contracting the plague themselves. Meanwhile, pagans were throwing infected members of their own families into the streets even before they died, in order to protect themselves from the disease" (Eusebius History of the Church, book 7, chapter 22). The early church didn’t have any fancy evangelistic programs and neither did it have unlimited resources, and yet Christianity spread rapidly throughout the ancient world(Colossians 1:23). The love and the service they practiced naturally drew the attention of a self-absorbed world, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).
"So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith" (Galatians 6:10); "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to deep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27); Titus 3:14 "And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful" (Titus 3:14). As individuals we have an obligation to help all men, Christians and non-Christians. We need more Christians who are volunteering when it comes to helping unbelievers who may have various needs. Such service is a tremendous opportunity to let your light shine and introduce others to the gospel message.