By Brian MItchell
The following are the words of a beautiful song from our song book entitled “Heart of a Servant.” It reads, “Give me the heart of a servant, tender and faithful and true. Fill me with love, then use me, o Lord, so that the world can see you.” As you think about yourself, especially in light of your relationship with God through His Son; who are you? How would you describe yourself?
What descriptive terms for the children of God are you most comfortable with? Do you think of yourself as a disciple, a saint, or a Christian? What about the term Servant? One day a woman was interviewing a prospective butler and asked him, “Are you trained to serve guests?” The prospective butler replied “Yes, ma’am, I have been trained to serve guests both ways.” The woman looked puzzled and asked, “What do you mean, both ways?” The prospective butler replied, “I’ve been trained to serve them so they’ll come again, or so they’ll stay away. You just have to let me know which way you desire for each guest.”
Would you say that you have been trained to serve? Serving others, if we are being honest, is not something that comes naturally to most people. The truth is that we live in a very self-centered and selfish “Me-First” society. Thus, living a life of service is something that must be sought after and cultivated. But serving others, in following the example of Jesus Christ, is exactly what we have been called to do.
But what does it really mean to be a servant? What images immediately come to your mind? Do you think of the slaves of Egypt building the pyramids or the African slaves brought to the United States in the early days of our country? If these are the images that immediately come to mind, then the idea of being a servant of God is not likely to be very appealing to you. And it is for this reason that servanthood represents a path of life that most are unwilling to travel.
What we must always keep in mind is the fact that one of God’s major objectives for the followers of His Son is that they become like His Son in all ways. Paul puts it this way, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom.8:28-29). God’s desire is that we be conformed to the image of His Son, that we be like Him.
Obviously, there are many things about Jesus that we should want to imitate: His walk with God, His knowledge of Scripture, His prayer life and His purity. But what about Jesus’ example of service? I believe that this is one of the most important ways that God wants us to conform to the likeness of Jesus. Look at how Jesus characterized His own life and purpose: “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 20:28).
Another song in our hymnal, called the Servant Song, says: “Lord, make me a servant, Lord, make me like you; for you are a servant, make me one too.” Jesus came to serve, not be served and if this was true of the Master then certainly it must be true of the follower.
- Brian Mitchell preaches for the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.jacksonchurchofchrist.net