The prayer: Make me a vessel Lord that I may serve You. Why? Because I am His child and I long to please Him. But not only am I His child, in Acts 16:17 you and I as believers are described as “servants of the Most High God.” Along with other believers we are described as “fellow workers” in the New Testament, all of us, in service to God.
We are a people who belong to an eternal Kingdom (a royal Priesthood in 1 Peter 2:9). As people belonging to this heavenly Kingdom, we serve the King. By calling Him our King, we give our allegiance to Him, which is why we pray: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We serve His purposes here on earth as “ambassadors” (2 Cor 5:20: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”)
As Kingdom people, we recognise WHO we are in Christ, but sometimes like James and John, we think that this should come with certain privileges of position: Mark 10:35-44
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’
‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked.
They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’
‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?’
‘We can,’ they answered.
Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’
When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as 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 slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (my emphasis)
From this passage, we can see that:
- Jesus saw himself as a servant, and as such,
- expected His followers to regard themselves as servants,
- not seeking places of honour “to be first,” but
- seeking places to serve as “slave of all.”
Jesus said in Luke 22:27: “I am among you as one who serves.”
We often do not consider Jesus as a servant, but rather a leader, our King! But what made Jesus so different is that He did not follow the world’s plan for leadership. The world’s system of leadership has a very different approach to leadership compared to God’s Kingdom. Worldly leaders are often selfish and arrogant, clawing their way to the top with no concern for others, very often not even considering the needs of the people who appointed them to leadership. Jesus, however, is the prime example of what is known as a servant leader.
A Servant leader asks: How can I serve you better? It goes counter to the normal trend in our world and puts other people’s needs above their own agenda. In God’s Kingdom and by extension, believers who belong to His Kingdom:
A Leader is the ONE who serves BEST.
Abraham Lincoln is a modern-day example of such a servant leader. Lincoln’s actions during the US Civil War are prime examples of servant leaders behaviour. In particular, his preservation of the Union during the conflict and the freeing of the Southern slaves. In all his actions, Abraham worked as president in the interest of the people he led, rather than his own interests.
This servant attitude of a leader is seen in Jesus’ command in John 15:12-13
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
In fact, a new command for leadership is given us by Jesus in John 13:34
‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’
If we miss this, we miss everything about leadership and serving. It is all about serving and loving the people around us, even if it means we lay down our rights, agenda’s, goals, comfort etc.
To love others is all about submitting ourselves to God’s leadership and purpose so that we may be useful to God and serve one another as per God’s will. Serving for pure “agape” love’s sake because the divine love of the Master compels us.
“ For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” – 2 Cor 5:14-15
We as servants have an appreciation for our freedom from the slavery of sin and death, given to us at no cost, by Jesus Himself, our King, who bore a great cost to purchase this freedom for us. This freedom from sin is given to His servants, not because we serve the Master, but because the Master first loved us and did this for us. As His servants, we choose to serve the Master, not because we have to, but because it is the most appropriate response to the love of the Master and everything He has done for us.
When we serve for pure love’s sake because the divine love of the Master compels us. Then, in these situations, “love never fails.”
In contrast, human love often fails. But love brought about in us when we are serving, submitted to His love, and obedient to Him, that love never fails.
To serve the Lord is a calling. He calls us to serve Him because we choose to, not because we have to.
- When called to serve people, have you ever considered WHO calls you into service and WHO it is that you are serving? Very often, we are so focused on the people we are serving rather than on WHO’s behalf we are serving.
- If loving and caring for people, serving them, is what God calls us to do, do you have to be in a special ministry in a church to serve the Lord? Do you wait for people to ask you to serve others, or do you serve because God asked?
- Make a list in your journal of three reasons why you would want to serve the Lord.
Lord Jesus, I thank you for being the sacrifice for my sin, the great cost to Yourself, so that I may be free from the impact of sin in my life. Thank you for that freedom which includes the freedom to walk into Your presence and ask what You would have me do. Thankyou that serving people and loving them demonstrates that I am your disciple and in Your service. I choose to serve You out of the experience of Your love in my life. Help me to serve even if there is no benefit to myself. Help me serve better just within my immediate circle of friends and family. Whomever may cross my path in the normal walk of the day. Help me to be faithful in this service to You as I do life right now. I love you, Lord, and I love doing life with You.
Next: The Mark of a Slave