“…whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant… just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” Matthew 20:26-28.
God’s grace is the key to the whole Christian life. Without an understanding of the grace of God, people will serve God from a wrong motivation:
- Out of a sense of duty
- Out of a desire to gain acceptance
- Out of a need to prove something to others
Before we can serve God out of a right motivation, we must see what God has already done for us.
Taken to the Throne
The grace of God has brought us into the position of sonship. There is nothing we can do to earn that position – no service, no sacrifice, nothing! This revelation of God’s grace releases us from any hint of self-effort and self-attainment. We do not need to earn anything from God. In Christ, we have all things!
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” Eph.2:6-7 (read verses 4-9).
When we received the Lord Jesus, we received everything (2 Peter 1:3). We became complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). There is nothing to work for, nothing to earn from God. Everything has been given freely as a gift (Ephesians 1:3).
Only now – when we understand that we don’t have to do anything in order to get anything from God – can we begin to serve God, not out of “selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3), but out of love for God and for others.
The Attitude of Christ
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” Philippians 2:5-7.
Jesus did not become a servant to get anything for Himself. He was not “grasping” after any position or favor. His sole motivation was love for His Father and love for a lost world. God now wants you to have the same attitude. Like Jesus, you have nothing to grasp after. You have eternal life, you are a son, you are seated with Christ. But now, because of the same attitude of love, you can voluntarily step down from your position of comfort and “take the very nature of a servant”. Like Jesus, we are not servants striving to become sons, but we are sons who have chosen to become servants (1 Peter 2:16).
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses…poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” 2 Corinthians 6:4,10.
A Choice of Masters
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” Matthew 6:24.
The Bible tells us that a person is a “slave to whatever has mastered him” (2 Peter 2:19; John 8:34). As Christians, we are given the choice of either serving the world or serving the Lord. There is no other choice.
“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” Joshua 24:15.
Mary and Martha
“[Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” Luke.10:39-42.
Jesus used this occasion to teach an important lesson about serving. Even though Martha loved to serve (see John 12:2), she had allowed herself to become “distracted” by her serving. If we become “worried and upset” in serving the Lord, this is a signal that our focus has moved from the Lord to our service. True servanthood is “serving the Lord”, not just “doing things for the Lord”. We should be like Martha – wholeheartedly serving the Lord – but have the heart of Mary – who counted relationship with Jesus as the most important thing.
Servanthood in Grace
“…we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” Rom.7:6.
Servanthood out of a sense of obligation or duty brings no joy to the heart of God (1 Cor.9:17). Servanthood must come from a heart of joy (Psalm 100:2) and enthusiasm (Romans 12:11). In order for our service to be pleasing to God, it must be:
- Because of all God has done for us (Romans 12:1).
- Because in serving we find fulfilment (Psalm 40:8).
- Because of love (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).
Our service is firstly to the Lord. God takes everything that we do for others as if it were done for Him (Matthew 25:35-40; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Ephesians 6:6-8).
Waiting on the Master
“As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God.” Psalm 123:2 (see also Luke 12:35-36).
The Bible describes true servanthood as “waiting on the Lord.” Service to God is not just doing things for Him, but is being with Him, watching His hand, listening for His voice, ready to obey the moment He commands.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” Colossians 3:23-24.