“to serve…not to be served”

by Bryant Evans on January 23, 2011

Service is a hallmark of our faith. The founder of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) said of his own life that he came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). His life was a daily reminder that he surrendered the glories of heaven to come here and serve mankind. He did not seek his own will but that of his Father who sent him (John 5:30). His apostles, from Peter to Paul, were servants. The example of Jesus, his apostles and early disciples was one of service.

Service comes naturally to Christians once they begin to appreciate all that has been done for them. As our love for the Christ grows deeper our desire to serve him rises too. It is a natural maturing of our faith that we seek to imitate our Lord in all ways.  As he loved and served so we love and serve; we do things that put others first even at discomfort and inconvenience to ourselves.

The example of the original church in Acts 2 was of service. They served one another by selling what they owned and giving to the needy (Acts 2:42-47). This unselfish attitude continued beyond the first days (Acts 4:32-37) and became an identifying mark of the disciples. By Acts 6 their work had taken on greater organization and men were appointed as leaders of the care of the widows (Acts 6:2-4). As years passed and the church grew the members were always encouraged to serve (Romans 12:11; Galatians 5:13; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Peter 4:10).

It is useful for every Christian to occasionally consider their service record and ask whether there is more that can be done. By its very nature, service is sacrificial. It costs something to serve others. An honest evaluation might mean more sacrifice. It might mean pushing ourselves more to serve the one who saves us.

An honest questioner might ask: “What does Jesus expect of me?” An honest answer is just as forthright: “Everything – hold nothing back.”

We are familiar with Jesus own words when he calls us to seek the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33). We remember his call to the young rich man to sell everything and come and follow him (Mark 10:17-22) and the implication that even family must take a distant second place to the service of the Lord (Mark 10:29-31; Luke 14:26). His call is uncomfortable. It interferes with our own tightly scheduled life. We reason that we must have time to ourselves. We figure it is too much to ask to ask a man to do even more. We have convinced ourselves that attendance at Bible study and church worship services is sufficient when in reality we are only beginning to scratch the surface of our service.

Serving Christ is far more important than rest or recreation. Duty to God comes before homework and overtime. We are his servants, owned through his blood which redeemed us from the grip of sin and the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13). We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; I Corinthians 7:23) and that price his blood (Acts 20:28). Our goal is to be a “profitable servant” (Matthew 25:21) which the Lord will reward (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

We will never be able to repay the price of our redemption. A thousand years of serving will not reduce the debt we owe. It cannot be repaid and we cannot, by our own goodness, earn salvation. Let us instead find satisfaction and comfort in serving everyday to the best of our abilities. We will not be disappointed.

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