By Pastor Ay Nee Ng
Questions raised when we talk about Servanthood:
• What was the significance of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples?
• Why should I want to serve God?
• Why is serving God important?
Do we enjoy playing pranks or do we enjoy doing good? I just received a video from some friends.
On their walk along a farm, a teacher and his pupil spotted a pair of old torn shoes. Being cheeky, the student wanted to play a trick on whoever owned that pair of worn out shoes by hiding the old shoes, thinking it would be fun to watch the owner’s reaction when he couldn’t find them. The teacher told his student that it is not good to play such cruel jokes on a poor person. The teacher came up with a better idea of putting coins in each of the worn out shoes and hide themselves somewhere to see the owner’s reaction when he finds the coins in his shoes.
After a while, they witnessed a farmer putting his foot into one shoe. He felt something hard; he checked and found the coins. He looked around to see if anyone had lost these coins, but he couldn’t see anyone, and so, he kept them. He got emotional when his other foot felt the same hardness that revealed some more coins. Tears came rolling down his cheeks. He folded his hands and looked toward the sky and said, “Oh God. Thousand times thanks to the unknown person helping me in this time of need. Because of that person’s kindness and help, now I will be able to buy medicine for my sick wife and bread for my hungry children.”
Tears came streaming down the student’s face after listening to the farmer. When the farmer had left, the teacher asked his student what lesson did he learnt. “What would have made you happier? Hiding his shoes or placing coins in his shoes?” With tears in his eyes, he told his teacher he will never forget what he learnt today and thanked him. He understood the meaning of these words: The joy of giving is much more than that of taking, for it is truly limitless.
Doing good is service. The Bible has a great deal to say about servanthood because the central theme is the Servant of all—Jesus Christ. The quality which so completely characterized the life of Jesus Christ is the quality of unselfish servanthood.
Folks, do you believe that servanthood is God’s work for every believer? You should because it sure is. All our actions should reflect the fact that Jesus is not only our Saviour but also the master of our lives. We are to be His servants. In the Old and New Testament, many were referred to as servants.
[Some of this content was taken from GotQuestions.org]
1. What does the Bible say about being a servant and servanthood? The Bible has a great deal to say about servanthood because the central theme is the Servant of all—Jesus Christ.
“But Jesus called them (his disciples) and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high position use their authority over them. It must not be this way among you! But whoever wants to be 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 a ransom for many.’” (Mt. 20:25-28)
Also, Jesus said: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:45)
When we give Jesus Christ His rightful place as Lord of our lives, His lordship will be expressed in the way we serve others (Mk. 9:35; 1 Pet. 4:10; Jn. 15:12-13). This service is born out of compassion for the lost, poor, sick and needy.
2. What exactly is servanthood?
A servant is first of all one who is under submission to another. For Christians, this means submission to God first, and then submission to one another. Then, as one in submission, a servant is one who seeks to meet the real needs of others or of the person he is serving.
Servanthood is the state, condition, or quality of one who lives as a servant. To put it another way, servanthood is the condition or state of being a servant to others, of ministry to others rather than the service of self. It means being willing to give oneself to minister for and to others and to do whatever it takes to accomplish what is best for another. It is not about service to self and self-gratification.
Some of us grew up having maids to do our chores, but majority grew up with at least someone serving to your needs. Guess who? Your parents, your mum and dad, or some grandparents to look to your needs. One way or another you were being served.
Saturday 25th November 2017, Today and Sunrise shows both reported that parents spent 850 hours chauffeuring their kids for sports every year! Parents do a lot for their kids! What about the many sleepless nights your parents go through diapers and feeding you? Remember those days? No, you can’t because you were too young. But when you become parents, then you would realise how much we appreciate our parents and what they did, and are still doing for us.
3. Why is servanthood so important? How were you treated when serving others and how did you treat them? Well, it is important to note the differences or, if they are, similarities in the treatment of those serving us and of us serving others. Servanthood is important to God because it helps build us stamina, humility and a great depth of understanding and wisdom. It is a matter of our HEART and ATTITUDE. That is what God is looking for!! How you serve others is how they will serve you and treat you. “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Mt. 7:12).
4. Why is serving God important? Our service to God demonstrates our love for Him. Our love for God will be expressed in our love for others. “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5). Also, it demonstrates who we are–His children, identified with Jesus Christ as He came to serve humankind as well as He is our Lord, Saviour and Master.
Then the five words in the New Testament translated “ministry” generally refer to servanthood or service given in love. Serving others is the very essence of ministry. All believers are called to ministry (Mt. 28:18-20), and therefore, we are all called to be servants for the glory of God. Living is giving; all else is selfishness and boredom.
5. What is servanthood leadership? True Leadership is servanthood, and the greatest leader of all time is Jesus Christ. Servanthood is an attitude exemplified by Christ “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6-7).
In Matthew chapter 20, a mother craves position and prominence for her two sons serving Jesus, but Jesus had other plans about leadership. His plans do not suit the world; the world fights for and envies position and power, but God’s kingdom is about humility, understanding others, and compassion to serve, give and help others succeed with no jealousy!!
“Those who desire to be great in God’s kingdom must be the servant of all” (Mt. 20:26). It has been rightly stated, “Rank is given you to enable you to better serve those above and below you. It is not given for you to practice your idiosyncrasies” (General Bruce C. Clarke, USA).
Let us serve others by serving Christ (Col. 3:23-24). God the Father has served us by sacrificing Christ on the cross for our sins, and we should serve others by giving the gospel and our lives to them (1 Thess. 1:5-6).
6. Who do we serve? Do we need to serve at all or serve God?
The Apostle Paul points that “each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but the interests of others as well” (Phil. 1:4). He then directs his focus onto our Saviour as our great example, saying: “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had.”
Paul then followed this exhortation with a strong reminder of the humiliation of Christ (Phil. 2:6) who, though being God of very God, emptied himself by taking the form of a slave. There is no question that if we as Christians are going to grow and mature into Christ-like character, we must experience progress in giving of ourselves in ministry to and for others.
We are to serve each other. That is our ministry, right? Who do you serve?
• At work? Your boss, your clients.
• In the university? Your professors, lecturers, tutors and fellow students
• At home? You serve each other, right? Your home is your sanctuary and you need help from each other. You serve because there is love.
• Then at church? You are not being paid and you step into church voluntarily. Who do you serve? To some, no one; to others, maybe for self-gratification; the rest, we serve God, hopefully, by serving others.
There is a difference when we come to church. We think that we are not expected to serve, especially if we come with the attitude to “get”. This kind of attitude (ex: “if I don’t receive from the pulpit or worship or get my way, then this is not for me”) is sad because we don’t come with the attitude of serving each other and God. When you serve to one of the least among you, you are serving to God himself.
Let’s read Matthew 25:31-46 on The Final Judgment.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Church, as all believers are supposed to be His disciples and the church is the body of believers, why are we short selling on serving? The church is in need; the church is hungry for lost souls, and in a way, if we don’t grow, we can become sickly. I implore you, there is so much to grow our church, and God has put you guys here to help each other to grow and to grow His church–our SGC.
7. Are we willing to put our hands to the plough? Or why shouldn’t we be willing to put our hands to the plough and serve our Lord Jesus Christ? Church, while we can and should find comfort and encouragement in Christ, we need to understand what the Apostle Paul is saying.
Let’s read Philippians 2:1-7 on Imitating Christ’s Humility.
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
Church, when we properly grasp what the Apostle Paul is saying, that comfort should propel us into being servants of the Saviour and one another. The world we live in is preoccupied with self today and is readily seen in slogans like, “Be all you can be”, “Experience your potential”, or “Do it for yourself.”
Therefore, the concept of servanthood stands opposed to the primary concerns of our culture and society, which are more focused on our own personal happiness, comfort and self-expression rather than growth in the character and quality of the life of the Saviour which is the heart of discipling.
Simply put, our modern day society, and this includes a great number of Christians, is focused on making satisfaction its goal, indeed, its religion. There is much more concern for self-fulfilment than for pleasing God and truly serving Him and others as seen in the life of Jesus.
Again, while many of these things are important and have their place, it does take the focus off of what is truly the heart of Christianity—knowing and loving God, and out of that resource and relationship, living as servants in the power of the Spirit according to the example of Christ.
Christ’s plan and that which produces maximum blessing to the world and the church is servanthood. A servant is one who, even when in positions of leadership, seeks to lead and influence others by giving his/her life in ministry for the blessing of others and their needs. The Lord Jesus came as a servant with a commitment to serve. Just think, if He had come to be served, our redemption could and would never have taken place. Likewise, our failure to live as servants throws up a huge barrier to effective ministry as representatives of the Lord Jesus.
Having pointed to His actions as an example for them, Christ then drove home an inescapable lesson, here defined as a “solemn truth” and for which we answer our first question. What was the significance of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples? Well, the significance is that if He, their master and the One they worshipped, assumed the role of a servant to minister to others, then certainly they must likewise take the towel of servanthood as to minister to others rather than seek to elevate themselves. Ironically and contrary to the thinking of the world, true blessing comes in serving others.
Let’s read John13:12-17 (NLT).
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”
God, please change our hearts to one of servanthood and mould us to your image day by day. We give thanks and praise your mighty name. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.