The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:11-12 NLT
I serve each week in a variety of ways. Serving is very important, because it is the activity of the body of Christ manifest in this world through me and you. It took Christ coming to earth and walking it out as a visible example to others for the way, the truth, and the life to become visible to blind eyes. In the same way, our lives are to be signs shining brightly, pointing to Him by loving and serving others.
But the act of serving isn’t the part that determines whether or not I’m participating in His greatness. You see, if I’m doing works to earn favor or reward, then I’m little more than a hired hand. And when the perceived cost outweighs the benefit, I’m going to run away from the trials and the struggle to try to find something else that has a better return for my time and effort. You see, in that perspective, it is still all about me and what I’m going to get. And this perspective is dangerous because we are laying claim to our works and expecting a payment in return. This is pride.
But true serving starts out of gratitude. We do it because we love the Lord and because we want to serve Him by serving others. And then something beautiful happens. You see, serving starts out as being work that we are doing in grateful obedience to the Lord. It starts out as a sacrifice, giving up our time and energy and money to help others. And for a season, it will even seem worthless and pointless as you weather the storms and fear that you are not making any difference at all and that you are suffering for no good reason.
But what you don’t realize at the time is that the storm clouds will be rolled away, and the sun will shine upon you, and you will know blessings that you weren’t even seeking or expecting. By selling first the Kingdom of God, all these things truly are added to us. Yes, His promises are true. But it’s the perspective that matters. It’s the perspective that gets us there.
You see, I’m falling in love more with Christ each day, and I’m falling in love with those that I serve. And there is no greater blessing than to see bonds of love touch another heart and for them to know that it is truly love – not pity, not self righteous piety, not exalted benevolence, not seeking favor or reward, but true love for my brothers and sisters in Christ and for my neighbors who are not yet found. So now it is not work, it is not a sacrifice, it is not even a burden, it is the blessing in each week.
But to receive the blessing, we have to step out and be a servant. We have to step out and want others to know that Jesus loves them. We have to get past our complacency and comfort of not participating actively in the work of God on this earth. We also have to get past or fear of being humbled by the Lord. If He is your heavenly Father, your Lord and Savior, you will not die from the rod even if you need to be disciplined and humbled from pride – you will learn a valuable lesson.
If we step out in faith as a servant, we are guaranteed blessings – either the clear blessing if we are doing it for the right reasons – or the discipline and correction that will humble us if we aren’t doing it for the right reasons, which results in a double portion because of 1) the lesson learned in the humbling and 2) the blessings received in serving.
Don’t be foolish and miss the blessing because you are afraid to be wrong and in turn be humbled by the Lord. His correction, His discipline, His molding us in His hands into the vessel prepared for His use is exactly the ministry that we are called to as we are reconciled to Christ, as we grow glory upon glory to become more like our teacher.
You can serve in every breath you take. It does not have to be a grand gesture, it can be a lot of little things – but it should be a sacrifice made in grattitude if you want to be tested and to see real growth in your life.
Step outside your comfort zone – and even though you won’t see the mountain moving as you carry a handful of dirt at a time, you will one day look back and realize that there was an undeniable move of God in your life, because the mountain has been cast into the sea, right before your very eyes.
Faithful servant, go forth and serve.