We have abundant scriptural evidence of Jesus demonstrating that he practiced what he preached. From the prophetic utterances in the famous servant passages through Isaiah (Is 52:13-15 and Is 53:1- 12) to Paul’s letter to the Philippians we find the pages of our Bibles peppered with examples of Godly self-sacrificial servanthood, primarily demonstrated by Jesus but also by other men whom God commended, such as young David who was described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) for his willingness to do God’s will. God loves willing servants.
The rights of a servant
It is instructive to study the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians; it tells us so much about Jesus’ servant-attitude.
First, what were his rights as a servant? He had none! As a man walking this earth faithfully doing the Father’s will (he did nothing unless he knew the Father’s will (Jn 8:28 etc)) he had emptied himself of all his rights to have ‘equality with God’ and willingly took on the form of a servant, thus abandoning himself to ‘his master’s will’ (Phil 2:6, 7).
So the word ‘volunteer’ can be unhelpful in the context of church; it tends to undervalue ‘commitment’ and ‘faithfulness’. we are all servants of the living God! Common usage of that word implies the freedom to pick and choose what we do and when we do it. Unlike a paid job, if we volunteer we like to feel we are in control of our time and so on. But when we are saved we come under Jesus’ authority so, in one sense, we lose our rights to self-determination. He has a purpose for our lives and it is for us to use our free will to choose to walk in humble obedience to his will, not to follow our own fleshly desires.
When a soldier joins the army he ‘comes under orders’. He cannot decide to have a ‘lie in’ one morning and turn up on the parade ground an hour late. If he tries it he will not find life very comfortable! We too are ‘under orders’. Because we serve a loving God who is committed to our best interests this is not a heavy thing, even if at times it does feel uncomfortable. No child likes his father’s discipline but that discipline is administered in love for the child’s best interests.
So it is with us. God expects us to serve faithfully and this can be seen in such practical ways as being reliable if we commit to serve in some area of the life of the church. We should have the reputation that if we say we will do something everyone will know that we will turn up on time and that the task will be accomplished. Jesus alludes to reliability in the parable of the two sons recorded in Matthew’s gospel (Matt 21:28-32). One son said that he would do the father’s will but did not, the other did not agree to do to it but then did so. The latter is the one whom Jesus commended.
So, a servant has no rights. What about his humility and obedience (Phil 2:8)? We will look at these next time.