Called to Serve
God’s call to serve others is a theme in Scripture (Phil. 2:4-11). Serving should grow out of an attitude, a disposition; a state of mind that results in the overt action of assisting others. This attitude of mind moves a person from a conscious awareness of status to an unconscious willingness to sacrifice for others. Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you MUST be your servant, and whoever wants to be FIRST must be your slave – 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.” (Matt. 20:25-28)
It is interesting that the “sheep” on the right hand of Jesus in Matthew 25 were unaware of their service to the Lord, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” (37-39). This attitude is in stark contrast with the record keeping older son in Luke 15: “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (29-30). This older son was very aware of his acts of service.
Paul indicated that the disposition to serve is seldom achieved, that most people are driven by a personal agenda rather than led by the Spirit of Christ. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have NO ONE else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For EVERYONE looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 2:19-21).
Paul said of himself and Apollos, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants…the Lord has assigned to each his task.” (1 Cor. 3:5) In the next chapter of Corinthians he wrote, “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ…” (4:1). He went on to say, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (4:4) In spite of his good intentions Paul indicated that he could be failing the servant test.
So? How am I doing as a servant of Christ? How are you doing? Are my hands open before the Lord? Palms up? Is my body on the altar? (Rom. 12:1) Is my love sincere (Rom. 12:9)? Do I honor others above myself (Rom. 12:10)? Do I keep a record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5)? We are admonished to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. “Test yourselves,” Paul wrote (2 Cor. 13:5).