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Wednesday, January 13, 2016


"But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." 
Matthew 20:26-28

For two millennia, the Gospel has churned out generations of servants fashioned after the image of the servant Christ. When Christ began to call on men to repent, He created new men, regenerated or born again unto a new behavior that can be summarized as the servant. Let’s take a look at this aspect of the Message of the Ages.

The other day I was listening to a hymn called "Lord Make Me A Servant," which moved me to do this study.  As I meditated on each word of this song, I could not help but think about what characterized the life of our Lord and Savior:  the quality of selfless servanthood.  Jesus said,

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."  (Mark 10:45).

Soon after, the apostle Paul added, 

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."  (Philippians 2:4).

Then speaking of our Lord as the most excellent example of servanthood, Paul said,

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  (Phil. 2:5-8).

The Word of God commands Christians to be servants and be willing to serve.  The purpose of my study is to encourage you and me to develop the heart of a servant, to put God first (Matthew 6:33) and then everyone else (Phil. 2:2-4), which requires us to develop the fruit of humility, the very essence of Christ in our lives, then finally ourselves (Gal. 6:1-5).

Our culture misses the idea of true servanthood since their primary focus is on personal happiness and comfort.  We can surely see this in slogans like "be all you can be" or "experience your potential" and in many book titles like "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life."  The list goes on and on.  These have but one purpose: to pursue comfort and self-expression rather than growing in the character and standard of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

It is very discouraging to see a significant number of Christians focusing primarily on satisfying their goals (such as how to become more of a person, realizing one's potential, experiencing the thrills each day, improving our shape and diet, managing our money, and so forth) rather than growing and seeking the kingdom of righteousness.  I do not deny that many of these things are important; the problem is that it takes our focus off what is truly the heart of a faithful servant of Christ according to the example of Christ.  Indeed, this is the truth of knowing and loving God and the source of our relationship with Him.

Sadly, many are more motivated by a desire to be served, to lead, get honor and receive praise rather than to have the heart of a servant, to empty ourselves and be like little children (Matt. 18:3-4).  As long as we continue on that carnal road, we will never become servants of God.

In this study, I will explore Christ the Servant, the Christian as a servant,  servanthood, and the success of evangelism.  Serving is costly!  It demands humility and sacrifice, but when one considers the humblest Servant of all, Jesus our Lord, one can truly serve from the heart, and serving is no longer hard.  We must imitate our Lord's attitude of service (Phil. 2:3-8, Hebrews 5:8-9).  True greatness is found in service. 

"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."  (Matt. 23:8-12).

Consider what the Bible says about servanthood and how we can apply the same Word to our service.


"Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.  He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope."  (Matthew 12:18-21).

We could not have a better example of a servant than our Lord Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul presents Christ's model of servanthood for all Christians.  He points us to the humility needed to live as servants of God and others. Jesus, our Lord and Christ, deliberately chose to become a servant for us at a high cost. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, existing in the form of God with all the sovereign rights of deity, emptied Himself by taking on the form of a slave, becoming a man (actual human).  He voluntarily laid aside His royal rights in submission to His Father.  In doing this, He humbled Himself that He might die, even the death on the cross.

"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  (Phil. 2:1-8).

Notice the main focus of what Paul is saying in verse 2 and the implication drawn from this, "complete my joy."   There is no greater joy than to see men and women serving and being devoted to one another, seeing them mature in the character of Christ (Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:13).  Nothing gave Paul greater joy (verse 2) than to see Christians die to self and live unselfishly, serving one another with the mind of Christ (verses 2-5).  Our goal must be that of a servant living, as expressed in verses 3-5, rather than being motivated by our selfish ambition or vanity. In Christ, God demands all Christians to live as servants, serving others with the Lord Jesus as our perfect example.

"Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something.  And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, 'Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.'  Jesus answered, 'You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?' They said to him, 'We are able.'   He said to them, 'You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.'   And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers.  But Jesus called them to him and said,'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,  even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."'  (Matthew 20:20-28).
  • In Matthew 20:20-28 and Mark 10:35-45, Jesus shows us that we have two choices.  We can either seek to serve ourselves or learn to live as servants.  Our greater Servant also commands that we, His followers, be servants.  
  • In Matthew 6:24, our Lord Jesus stated, 
" No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money."

When we serve money or the things money can buy, we serve ourselves and our carnal desires.  We deceive ourselves, thinking money can buy power, pleasure, security, or status.  Money is not evil but can become evil when we allow it to control our values, priorities, and pursuits (1 Tim. 6:8-10). 
  • In Mark 10:45, Christ left us with the greatest act of servanthood.  
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
  • In Matthew 23:11-12, ("The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.") we notice that greatness in God's kingdom is not in status, power, exaltation, or prestige, and the praise of men but in our servant-like service to others.
  • In Matthew 23:13-29, Jesus pronounced a series of woes on the Pharisees who normally longed for status, prestige, and the praise of men.  They reflected the Pharisee's failure to live as humble servants.
  • In John 13:1-5, 12-17, Jesus illustrates and models for us the heart of a servant.  
"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him,  Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him... When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 'Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."'

The night before Jesus was crucified, He delivered His message of being a servant. According to the custom of the day, a servant was to wash the feet of the guests (with a basin of water and a towel in hand) who had walked down the dirty, dusty roads of Judea.  The disciples were likely looking around, waiting for someone else to perform this task rather than themselves.  Our Lord Jesus rose to the task as the perfect Servant, to their surprise and out of the blue.  He laid aside His outer garment, put a towel around His waist, took water in a basin, and began to wash His disciples' feet, assuming the role of a slave.  Jesus willfully took the place of a slave and washed the feet of His disciples.  Jesus' mind and character contrast so often with our self-seeking insecurity like that of His disciples to pick up the towel and take the place of a servant (Matt. 20:20-24; Mark 9:33-34; Luke 22:24-30).

Christ's attitude, love, and confidence in the Father allowed Him to assume the position of a slave (servant).  What an amazing example of submission!  Jesus modeled this pattern throughout His ministry on earth, providing the perfect example of what He wants us to do through faith and understanding of who we are in Him.  

Christ’s ultimate act of servanthood was His death on the cross for the redemption of mankind. Salvation is an act of God's grace. God served us in a way we could not serve ourselves, that is, save ourselves.  Because of God's great love for us, He sent His only begotten Son, His Servant, to be our Savior.  God served us to save us, showing us His lovingkindness and riches at Christ's expense.  Our Father sent His Son to bless us so we might turn away from our wickedness (Acts 3:26).


"If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him."  (John 12:26).

All Christians are commanded to be servants and to submit to His will. 
"Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’?  But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?  He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?  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 17:7-10)

The following is a song dear to my heart that speaks of what it means to be a servant.

 Lord, Make Me A Servant!

Make me a servant; Lord, make me like You
For You are a Servant; make me one, too
Make me a servant, do what You must do
To make me a servant, Lord, make me like You.

To love my brother; to serve like You do
I humble my spirit, I bow before You
And through my service I'll be just like You
So make me a servant, Lord, make me like You.

Open my hands, Lord; teach me to share
Open my heart, Lord; teach me to care
Service to others is service to You
So make me a servant, Lord, make me like You.

Since Christ was the Servant and left us a great example to follow, we, His followers, must be servants like Him (Matt. 10:25).  We must decrease (John 3:30).  What this means is that we must empty ourselves of all arrogance, selfish ambition, and prominence.  We must learn to serve others in the Spirit of Christ.  The Spirit will affect how we interact with non-Christians and with those of the same precious faith (Gal. 6:10).  Serving one another in the army of committed volunteers is what must motivate us. Our decrease is by increasing our servanthood.  Of course, this requires humility, which is often hard for most Christians to maintain. Our goal must be to get to know one another better to find out how we can serve each other better and help one another carry his loads, cares, and burdens that he may not have disclosed.

So, how can we develop a servant's heart?

We must learn to develop a servant's heart.  It is possible only when we follow Jesus and walk in His footsteps.  Developing a servant's heart demands that we focus on Jesus alone since He is our perfect example of humility, maturity, and leadership.  He is now seated at the right hand of the Father glorified.  He ministers to us as our Advocate, Intercessor, and Head of His body.  Consider a few things that can help us develop a servant's heart.

  • We must learn to submit!  (Luke 17:7-10). 
"But who is there of you, having a servant plowing or keeping sheep, that will say unto him, when he is come in from the field, Come straightway and sit down to meat;  and will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?  Doth he thank the servant because he did the things that were commanded?  Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do."

The Greek word "doo-los" is found three times in Luke 17, verses 7, 8, 9, and 10. The translated word "servant" literally means "slave" (literal or figurative, involuntarily or voluntarily; therefore, in a qualified sense of subjection!). While under servitude, we must do whatever our Master asks, whenever He asks, and however He asks, whether we like it or not.  Our Master wants us, servants, to submit to His will alone. 

The servant/slave must be in complete subjection to his Master!  We are God's bondservants (Phil 1:1).  Notice the word used in Phil. 1:1 of the bondservant is the same as "doo-los."

  • We must be willing to learn to serve (Luke 17:8).  
"And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?"  

In this verse, the word is used differently.  The word used is "diakonos," which translated means "serve" (to wait upon; to minister to; to serve).  This same word is used for "deacon" from 1 Tim. 3:8-13, a special servant.  In Ephesians 3:7, the word "diakonos" is "minister" to serve the needs of others.  
    • As servants of the great Master, we must learn the principle of servanthood toward our brethren in need. "But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?"  (1 John 3:17).  
    • Toward our brethren who are spiritually sick.  "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted."  (Galatians 6:1).  "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,  let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."  (James 5:19-20).

  • We must learn to sacrifice and die to self (Luke 17:10).  
"Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do." 

Do you acknowledge at all that God owes us nothing?  Yet He loves enough to give us everything!  In Him, we are complete (Col. 2:10) and blessed with every spiritual blessing (Phil. 1:3).  Therefore, we, His servants, must learn to consider the needs of others above ours.  It means to be considerate and kind toward others.  We must seek to serve one another in love and selfless service.  We must die to self to learn humility, putting the good of others before ourselves.  It is losing one's life to serve God and others. It is the opposite of pride and arrogance and elevating self.

A servant learns to expect nothing in return for his service (consideration of repayment). 
"If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to receive back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men."  (Luke 6:34-35).

  • We are commanded to live a life of sacrifice  (Romans 12:10-11).  
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;  not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." 

To do greater things for the cause of Christ, we must learn to rid ourselves of all the layers of self-worthiness and those things we value the most.  We must learn to set our minds on what is the most important for Christ's sake.
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more."  (1 Cor. 9:19

The heart of a servant is preferential to another, putting others first.  

  • Jesus taught us this need to sacrifice and die to self to serve Him(Luke 9:23).
"And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me."'

It is not easy to learn or develop a servant's heart and live for others, but we must if we want to serve God and enter the kingdom of heaven.  It will demand our everything!


As one reads Paul's letter to the Colossians, it is remarkable how many times the word "servant" appears at the opening of the letter (three times in chapter 1).  In verse 7, Paul describes Epaphras as a "faithful servant of Christ."  Then he describes himself as "a servant of the gospel" (verse 23).  Lastly, as a "servant of the church" (verse 25).  Indeed, Paul had the mind of a servant.  Why?  Because he served Christ first and then the Gospel and then the church. Paul submitted as a faithful servant to the will of God, the Master.  Consider Paul's opening words in Philippians 2:19-24:
"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.  For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.  But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,  and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also."

Timothy was sensitive to the needs of the church (verses 20-21).  Paul tells the Philippians, 

"But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel." 

  • A genuine Christian is genuinely interested in other Christians.  
Timothy promoted the interests of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, "For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ" (verse 21).  Timothy stood out because he was always looking out for our Lord Jesus Christ's interests (furthering the Gospel of grace).  Timothy proved he was able to work with other men.  "But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel" (verse 22).  

  • The mark of a genuine, faithful Christian is that often, he is not a loner, but he proves himself to be able to work alongside others.  
Although he may disagree, he does not resign at the drop of a hat.  He is working alongside other men. Timothy learned well how to lead by first being led.  Sadly, some want to be leaders but are unwilling to be led first. After all, the servant's heart grows when there is a servant's spirit and a servant's actions.  

In this beautiful letter to the Philippians, we see a picture of a father and son working together for the church's welfare.  You see, Paul had worked with Timothy as a young man until Christ formed in him. Thus, Paul became his spiritual father and mentor.  This relationship was instinctive rather than formal.  In fact, Paul could write a letter to Timothy later saying, 
"You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,  my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me."  (2 Timothy 3:10-11).  

Evidently, Timothy knew Paul as many know their fathers.  In Philippians 2:22, Timothy served with Paul.  Both Timothy and Paul were fully involved in the work of the Gospel.  Notice that Timothy was working with Paul rather than for Paul.  There was a joint service as co-workers and partners in furthering the Gospel.  

Paul told the Philippians that Timothy had proven himself to be a servant worthy of Christ, His Gospel, and His church as Paul was.  Both were proven worthy servants because they were earnest followers of our Lord.  They completely walked by faith, trusting and doing the Master's will.

So what can we learn from the servant's heart that Paul and Timothy had?

  1. If we have the attitude of service (like these two great men of faith had), we will have compassion for the lost and a desire to take the Gospel of our Lord to them (Jude 22:23).
  2. If we apply the servant's principle, we will not be concerned about who gets the credit for teaching others.  The only important thing will be their soul!
  3. If we apply the servant's principle, we will not refuse to do the work, no matter what it is, especially the work of saving souls.  This is the essence of true evangelism.  We must learn to work together (leaving our differences and disagreements behind) to be genuine servants of Christ, His Gospel, and His church like Paul and Timothy did.
  4. Applying the servant's principle will motivate us to do whatever it takes to reach out to the lost.
  5. If we apply the servant's principle, we will not seek to convert people to "our philosophy" or "our church" but only to Christ.
  6. The servant's principle will be sensitive to the welfare of the church and the furthering of the Gospel of our Lord that saves souls.  It promotes the interests of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  7. The servant's principle yearns to serve Christ first, the Gospel, and then the church.  


In Philippians 2:1, the apostle Paul reminds us that there is encouragement in Christ, comfort provided by love, fellowship of the Spirit, and affection and mercy. The first three (encouragement in Christ, comfort provided by love, and the Spirit's fellowship) come to us as we walk in His footsteps and are the products of our fellowship.  Affection and mercy express Christ living in us by selfless service.

Although God is the God of peace and comfort, He is more concerned about the character of our servant living than our comfort.  His ultimate goal is to perfect us spiritually, conforming us to the image of His Son.  Our Lord Jesus gave Himself on the cross for the redemption of man and to restore us to His Father, producing a people who would live as servants of God, serving others by proclaiming the "good news" for Him.  Therefore, as Christ gave Himself for us, our heavenly Father wants us to give ourselves for others.

So why not give ourselves to others who need us?  Those who need a word of encouragement because of their heavy burdens and cares; those who need mercy and compassion because they are laid aside; those who are sick and need a meal; those who have lost a loved one and need a word of compassion; those who need kindness since they are slow and easily overlooked.  This list is long!   Remember the words of our Master.

"And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."'  (Matt. 25:40)

Christians must serve (Christ, His church, and one another) without becoming disgruntled, discouraged, or disappointed.  We must learn to have the mind of Paul, who regarded himself as a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1).

To be faithful servants, we must learn to submit (Luke 17:7-10).  It is our job as servants to submit to the will of our Master since we are God's bondservants.  Likewise, we must learn to sacrifice, laying aside what we find of great esteem or value to do the greater things of God for the cause of Christ. Only when we empty ourselves, dying to self, can we take up our cross and follow Him daily.  Having the heart of a servant takes hard work.  It demands all of self!  It demands humility.  It is the most excellent demonstration of love.  It is the hallmark of a mature Christian.  Mature Christians have developed a dedicated servant's heart because of their love for others, even when they don't deserve it (Mark 12:31; John 15:13).

For a church to be mature and healthy, each member must "put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.   And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."  (Colossians 3:12-15)

You can rest assured it will affect the welfare and health of a church. We all must learn to serve! It is a challenge, but we must strive to do it to please our Master.

God is always opening doors with opportunities to serve within the church and others.  We have opportunities to share the Gospel and serve within our homes and community.  Those who are Christ-like (mature in Christ) have learned to respond to life's interruptions as opportunities to serve others.  They follow Christ in humility rather than pride.   It is pride that justifies our lack of service (servanthood).  It is pride that divides and destroys.  Lest we forget, all Christians are called to be servants.  God wants us to empty ourselves to be like little children (Matt. 18:3-4).

When we humble ourselves and put the good and interests of others before ourselves, we can serve God from a genuine heart, becoming a true servant.  It demands losing our life to serve Him and others.  Let us then learn to have the heart of a servant whose mind is set to become a servant to all to win souls to Christ's cause without repayment or consideration whatsoever (I Cor. 9:19; Luke 6:34-35).  Our Lord Jesus has left us a perfect example of service, servanthood (Phil. 2:3-8).  Remember the words of Jesus, who said that the path to true greatness is found in service (Matt. 23:8-12).  Jesus has shown us how to serve and demands no less of us.  He wants us to carry on His work.

May the Lord help us to have a servant's heart.  May we be humble and kind servants like our Master, who died for us so that we might live and have the hope of eternity. May we bow before the Father and ask for mercy and strength to become genuine servants of Christ, His Gospel, and His church as Paul, Timothy, and many heroes of the faith did.  May we have the right attitude of service to have compassion on the lost, desiring to share the Gospel of grace with them.  May we learn the true principle of servanthood so that we may not ignore the work that must be done to save souls.  May we hear our Master say on that final day, 
"Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."


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