Empowered Servants

My thoughts on the power of humility

If you haven’t heard last Sunday’s sermon, go check it out here. Pastor Dennis clearly illustrates the power of humility in a world of prideful leaders. I would love to write a piece directly addressing everything he said, since there was so many good points and biblical references mentioned throughout, but for now, I want to share with you a small insight I had toward the end of the sermon.

When set in the context of earlier chapters, Luke 17:1-10 cleared up several foggy illustrations I had previously never fully grasped, that largest being the equation of Christians = servants of God. I’ve always found this strange, since servants aren’t viewed or understood the same way now as they were in Jesus’ era. According to my previous notion of service, by serving, we are being obedient to our Lord’s commands, which seemed like a good enough reason for me.

But I thought about my attitude toward service, and as I pondered, the more I began to feel uneasy. I’ve been a Christian since I was 12. I went to Christian schools my whole life, even through college. And still, with all my learning and life experience gleaned from God’s word and His Spirit, there was never any true desire to serve in my heart, because it felt more like an obligation than anything else. My priorities were to love God, love my fellow man, and to live a righteous life. Somehow, service plopped into various vacancies in my schedule, but it never was a spiritual discipline. And the saddest realization that I had when I thought about my attitude toward service was this – my view is not a minority view among young adult Christians. Most of my friends and acquaintances, all Christian, rarely served regularly. Why is that?

Well, Dennis said it clearly on Sunday: pride rules our culture. Humility has no place in the corporate world or in the sporting arena. Why serve others when all of us are so destitute within? Serve yourself first! Strengthen your esteem and emotional stability first! Take a load off! You’ve worked so hard today! You’ve suffered so much injustice when they got your Starbucks order all wrong! Or so our culture screams out from the media and from our jobs.

Why did I feel so entitled and so frustrated with my daily life? Then it hit me. I would rather be selfish with my free time than be with those who need love and encouragement, because I find myself to be more important than my brothers and sisters. Ain’t that the hard truth.

I was shocked to hear myself disclose such a twisted admission. With an attitude like that, was I even changed by Jesus? Or was I like the rich man in Luke 16, who was so full of personal pleasure and selfish living, he didn’t notice the starving bum on his doorstep. I cried out to Jesus like the apostles in verse 17:5: “Increase my faith!” And the Spirit gently nudged me in the right direction.

Now, I am beginning to see how service isn’t forced servitude. It is a beautiful blessing which improves the world around us, grows the kingdom, nurtures your own relationship with Jesus, and combats the works of temptation. How did I make that jump from obligation to blessing? It’s actually simpler than you might think. Without Jesus, mankind lives striving to be a Pharisee: they work and struggle to become somebody, somebody who everyone else envies and serves. If they can cloak all of that glory in the mantle of religion, then even better. But Jesus is far too shrewd to let anyone get away with a lifestyle like that.

Jesus saves us through grace and grace alone. Everything he does, he does for the Father, including saving our sorry butts. But Jesus’ salvation isn’t a one-time investment. He literally purchases us from the bondage of Sin. Before, we worked for the devil and for ourselves as prideful liars and cheats. Now, we are bought to work for him. We are HIS servants, with a very clear job description: love God and love others. Therefore, since loving God and others includes serving God and others, it is our literal DUTY to serve. But this duty isn’t a burden because of what happens when we serve. Instead of serving ourselves, which destroys love and isolates people, we can serve God’s family, which builds up the everlasting kingdom and unites people. Honest, humble service isn’t possible without salvation. And since salvation was a gift, so is service.

If you know anything about unemployment and the struggle to live off of very little, then you also know how any secure job is a blessing, even if it is hard work. Think of life without Jesus as living as a gangbanger. No real purpose beyond supporting your own interests and working for the boss (Satan). Then think of Jesus as the perfect CEO who personally invites you to work for him forever and even live in his apartment complex. Instead of killing and stealing, you are now part of an ever-growing team that desperately needs you to be a willing, humble worker. But never forget that though the work is often hard, you are still being paid and loved and cared. And the best part is your inclusion in this wonderful community that will remain forever together, getting stronger and more unified throughout eternity.

So it is with service. To put it plainly, serving others and helping them resist sin and seek God is far more potent, beautiful, and lasting than anything you can do for yourself. What lives on after you die? Your soul and the kingdom of God. Service adds to both of those, while also blessing people with immediate benefits too. And when we accept Christ but don’t serve, we are labeled a the wicked servant who is stripped of his honors and cast out. Either you join in the beautiful work of the saints which blesses you, or you ignore the Spirit’s tug on your heart and find yourself separated from goodness and the body of Christ.

I hope this helps some of you to look at service a little differently. I am totally motivated to serve consistently and to enjoy it too, since I now know how it is by Jesus’ grace that I can even do righteous things, like serving, that have everlasting consequences.