Friday, May 1, 2009

A Portrait of a Servant

This is a devotional posted in one of my classes by Stanley Lawson, a youth pastor in an Ethiopian Church in Colorado. He gave me permission to use this.

“But is must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many,” Mark 10:43-45 (Holman Christian Study Bible,2003)

We don’t have a lot of domestic servants in the United States. Over the last century the numbers have dwindled. The idea of being in total service to another human brings back images of slavery and Uncle Tom, in the United States we tend to frown on that sort of thing. Not so in other countries. Many of the Ethiopians that I “serve” as a Pastor once had domestic servants. In Ethiopia servants are very affordable. A small wage, no worry of heath care, social security or a servants union; many are just glad to have a roof over their heads and consistent meals. I have heard what it is like to have someone waiting on you, sounds like fun. Someone to fetch your slippers, wash your hands for you, even clean your feet. Some of my Ethiopian friends confess how poorly they treated the people that served them. Now they are ashamed of the behavior, but then it was quite common after all they were just servants.

Taking the form of a bond–servant…(Phil.2:7) Jesus understood His rightful place yet for all of us He left His place. He took the place of a bond servant, a slave, and then He served, even to the point of death. I often wondered what that service must have looked like and then I read 1 Corinthians 13 again. Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish, is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things , believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corithians13:4-7). Each of these actions of love to me also provides a picture of what it really means to be a servant. In fact I can even substitute the word love with servant and it still makes full sense. A servant does not envy or boast , is not conceited or act improperly, is not selfish , not easily provoked…bears ,believes , hopes and endures. This person, who could do such things, would be the very best servant. Jesus said He came to serve and not be served (Matt. 20:28) Later as a testimony of what is means to be a leader He turned the tables and said you had to serve and to be a slave (Mark 10:43,44) He also said to follow Him you had to deny yourself…all these thing are submissive acts of a servant. Can I do that?

Can I go along and be patient when I am suffering, be kind when I am hurt, not envy when I do not have, not boast or be prideful when other think me less. Can I not tally the wrongs people do to me waiting for them to be punished? Can I endure? I confess, apart form Christ I cannot. Many times when I am wronged I want to lash out, correct, even punish but not say “Father Forgive them.” I am not talking of being a doormat here. What I am saying is though I may have the power or the right; can I choose to react in love, like a servant. Do you really want to know if you are able to be a servant? How do you react when you are treated like one?

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