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Serving Jesus and Serving Like Jesus
“One Who Serves”
Mark 10:45
 
A  couple of weeks ago, while preparing to preach on “obedience”, I told you there was a passage of Scripture in Luke 17 from which I really wanted to preach and that we would return to it at a later time. 
 
And while we’re not going to study that particular passage today, that really got me thinking about the whole subject of what it means to be a servant of God and what we’re going to do for the next couple of weeks is spend some time with that topic.  In particular, I want us to concentrate on what it means to serve Jesus and serve like Jesus. 
 
Now as you probably know, the Bible has a great deal to say about the subject of service and how it is to be expressed in and through our lives as Christians. 
 
When I went to the dictionary to see how the world defines “servant”,  I found this definition: 
 
  1.  a person employed by another, especially to perform domestic duties.
  2.  a person in the service of another.
  3.  a person employed by the government:
a public servant..
 
That really didn’t help me very much, so I went to the thesaurus and looked up the word “servant” to see what synonyms are listed in the English language for the word servant, and I must tell you that was an eye-opening experience. 
It said, “A servant is an assistant, an underling, a subordinate, a hireling, a waiter, an usher, an office boy, a page, a bell boy, a boot black, a lackey, a stooge, a maid, a hired girl, a bedmaker, a milkmaid, a serf, a vassal, a captive, a slave.” 
 
I looked under adjectives and found “menial, low, lowly, abject, base, mean and servile.”
 
Well no wonder nobody wants to be a servant! With a definition like that, it’s not much to put on your resume. I was a milkmaid. I was a servile bellboy. When you read words like that, you understand why that is so rare—because being a servant in our culture has a bad name.
 
Chuck Swindoll wrote a book about it several years ago that you may have seen.  It is called "Improving Your Serve". He wrote it way back in 2004.  It was really a series of sermons that he preached in his church.  He said that when he approached the whole question of servanthood, he was very negative about it. He said,
 
    “I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to study it. It didn’t seem very interesting to me. The whole idea of being a servant sounded negative. In fact, to me, when I thought of the word servant, I thought of Roots, African slaves and migrant workers who aren’t paid very much and who are abused. In fact, when I thought of the word servant, I thought of a human mule.”
 
That’s a good word picture. Just some dumb animal that is abused and misused and you lay your burdens on and don’t take any care for. And he said, “Who wants to be a human mule?”
A few years ago, the California Conservation Corps came up with a program to entice young people to volunteer a year or two to work for the state in the forest or building roads and bridges and things like that.
 
Their motto was “Long hours, hard work, low pay.” You would see that on a billboard. That was their enticement. That is what we think when we think of being a servant. Long hours, hard work, low pay. It doesn’t sound like very much fun.
 
Swindoll makes the comment in his book that he went to the Christian book store and couldn’t find much on servanthood. He found a lot about self fulfillment and getting your needs met, and handling your problems, but not much on servanthood.
 
That was 12 or 13 years ago, and unfortunately, you still won’t find much in your average Christian bookstore about being a servant and you don’t find much evidence of it in the life of the average church member either. It is just not a popular subject.
 
But I find it interesting how much the Bible has to say about this subject. In fact, let me just point out to you a couple of interesting Biblical facts.
 
1. “Servant” was Paul’s favorite title for himself. “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” In fact, in almost every one of his letters that’s how he introduces himself—in Romans, I Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, Thessalonians. It’s not “Paul the big shot,” but “Paul the servant of Jesus Christ.”
 
 
2. Jesus Christ himself is presented to us as the model or ultimate servant.  According to Philippians 2, when He came to the earth, he came in the form of a servant. There we read, “Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing.”
 
What does it mean “made himself nothing?” Taking the very nature of a servant. The definition of being made nothing is becoming a servant. Being made in human likeness.  He became a servant.  In fact, that’s the very reason that He came.   
 
And not only that, but Jesus Christ came to show us how a servant lives and how a servant dies.
 
Listen to what we read in
 
Mark 10:45
 
Jesus said, “I came to show us how a servant lives and how a servant dies.
 
Now in stark contrast to that, we have a situation in Luke 22 that reveals the attitude of the disciples. 
 
Luke 22:24-27
 
Notice in particular what Jesus says in verse 25. 
 
They’re arguing about who is the greatest and in so many words, Jesus says, “You’re acting just like the Gentile kings act.”
 
They ‘exercise lordship over them”.  So what does that mean? We live in a world where greatness is measured by power, position, perks.
In this world your position is measured by how much education you have, how many degrees you have after your name, what your title is, how much money you make, what your net worth is, how many people you can command, how many people you can pick up and call on the phone and know will have to return your call back.
 
In this world, your greatness is measured by the car you drive, the size of your office and all of those outward things. In fact, if we were to go out in the world and take a survey and ask who are the ten greatest people in America, you know who they would name? They’d name people in the White House or the Supreme Court or Congress. 
 
Or perhaps they would name entertainers or sports figures with lots of money or C.E.O.’s of the Fortune 500 companies, the powerful people of the world. They would call those the greatest. And unfortunately, if you do the same survey in the church, the responses wouldn’t be that much different.
 
And by the way, Jesus doesn’t say anything negative about that system.  That’s the way the world operates.  And somewhere along the line, somebody decided it wasn’t fair for some people to be more important than other people, or to have more money than others do, or wield more power or influence. 
 
But what Jesus says is not a judgment call about the way the world operates.  He’s just pointing out there needs to be a marked difference between them and the way the church does things. 
 
For all of my ministry, I’ve been warned about ordaining deacons who are white collar because many think they can run things at the church the same way they run things in the world.  We ordain men to the lowliest servant roles in the church and then they want to act like CEOs. 
 
And Jesus is saying, “It may be that way out there, but it is not to be that way in here because in here, among the people of God, greatness will be determined another way.”
 
So how is greatness to be determined in the family of God? Read it again. 
 
Verse 26-27
 
He’s obviously right.  In just a few moments, you may go out to eat. You may go over to the Cow or El Chico’s or Santa Fe.  Now when you go to a restaurant to eat today, you’ll be the most important person in the world.  As soon as you go in, someone will greet you and smile.  Eventually, they’ll take you to a table and before long the waiter or waitress will come and serve you.  They’ll give you a menu, take your order, will do your bidding, will do exactly what you say.
 
And if they don’t, they’ll hear about it.  In fact, some of the ugliest things you’ll ever hear come from people who’ve just left a worship service and now their teas doesn’t have enough ice in it or some other nonsense and they’re putting on a show at the restaurant, because they want everyone to know they are the most important person in the world. 
 
They’re in charge.  They’re the greatest.  And when the meal is over, you’ll walk away and forget about that man or woman who served you. You will never even see the person who washed the dishes or prepared the meal. But listen carefully.
 
Jesus says, “That’s not how things work in my kingdom.”  In fact, I have an idea if Jesus was the one at the restaurant, He wouldn’t be sitting at the head table like some almighty big shot. You probably wouldn’t even see Jesus because he’d be back in the kitchen helping wash the dishes and prepare the food because that’s what a servant does.
 
He’d be the one to come out and make sure everything is ok at the table and give you the menu and take your order, then he’d disappear and you wouldn’t notice him.  They’re always behind the scenes.  The servant is never the center of attention if he does his job. 
 
And that point begs to be made.  Servants do whatever needs to be done. They don’t wait to be asked, they don’t wait to be told. They don’t have to be assigned anything. If you’re a servant, you don’t look on the list to see what you’re supposed to do today.
 
You just find something to do and you do it. Servants serve voluntarily, on their own initiative.
That is what Jesus did. Wherever there was a need, that’s where Jesus was.
 
If there was somebody sick, He healed them. If there was somebody mourning, He comforted them. If somebody was hungry, He fed them.
 
Today the most likely place where you will find Jesus Christ is not necessarily in a church at 11:00 on Sunday morning. The most likely place is out there with the forgotten people, with the hurting people, with the homeless, with the people with diseases and those who are down and out. 
 
That’s where you found Jesus 2,000 years ago and that’s where you’re likely to find him today.  And if we’re going to be like Jesus and follow that servant model, then it will make a marked difference in the life of our church.  Like what?  What difference will it make in this church if we decide to take servanthood seriously?  Let me suggest some answers to that question.
 
  1. There will be a big increase in the volunteer spirit.
 
There has developed in the church a spirit of consumerism.  We come to church because of what it can do for us.  If we don’t like the product that is offered, we’ll go somewhere else. 
 
This church doesn’t have the kind of youth ministry we want, so we’ll go somewhere else.  This church doesn’t sing the kind of songs we like, so we’ll worship somewhere else. 
 
We don’t like the preacher, so we’ll go somewhere else. 
 
We come to church as consumers. We love to come to get, to receive.  But Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.  There are way too many professed Christians we never give anything. 
 
We never give any money; we never give any time; we never give any witness; we never give any love; we never give any worship.  We don’t come to give anything.
 
But a servant says “Where can I help?  What can I do?  Where can I go? What can I give?” And oftentimes, a servant doesn’t even say anything.  He just grabs the basin and a towel and starts washing dirty feet.
 
In a church this size, there should never be a shortage of people to take care of the ministry.  That means there ought to be plenty of people to teach Sunday school and take care of the childcare and drive the vans.  We shouldn’t have to beg and plead to get people to help with RAs and the youth. 
 
It shouldn’t be the same faithful few who are the only ones to attend visitation.  There is no excuse for deacons and Sunday School teachers and those who go on mission trips to not take part in the visitation and prayer ministries of this church.
 
That means we must become very practical and intentional in our ministry.  You know I believe in Bible doctrine and in theology and I preach it to you all the time, but the Bible also says that faith without works is dead.
 
If we’re really going to be servants, at some point, you’ve got to take what you know and have learned and put it to use.  You’ve got to get out there where the real needs are and get busy. 
 
So a good beginning place to evaluate your life as a servant is to ask yourself, “Do I come to church to give or only to receive?” 
 
Not only will volunteerism increase
 
  1. Criticism and griping will decrease. 
 
A servant doesn’t have time to criticize or gossip. If you’re going to be washing dirty feet, that’s going to take all day and you won’t have time to offer extraneous opinions on anything else.
 
When I was a teenager, my dad was of the opinion if I came home tired enough at the end of the day, he wouldn’t have to worry about me being out doing things at night that I shouldn’t be doing!  And he was right!  If you’ll get busy serving, you’ll be amazed at how much better your attitude will be!
 
You can be a critic or you can be a servant, but I don’t think that you can be both for very long.
 
  1. We will have to think differently when it comes to choosing leaders. 
 
When enlisting leaders in the church, whether it is deacons or Sunday School teachers of committee members or whatever, there is always a tendency to pick those who are affluent or successful or vocal. 
 
And I’m not saying that those qualities aren’t important. But too often we choose leaders according to those standards alone. If servanthood becomes important, if we really believe what Jesus is saying, then it would behoove us to choose as leaders those who have the heart of a servant. 
  1. There will be a deeper appreciation of those who labor behind the scenes.
 
Now before we finish this short series, we’ll see that no servant does what he does expecting to be thanked for it.  And the danger of appreciating and recognizing folks is it can ruin the spirit of a servant. 
 
But on the other side of that, there ought to be within us a deep appreciation for those who do what they do in the ministry.
 
And I’m talking specifically about those who labor quietly and without recognition.  We as staff are thanked and appreciated quite frequently and that is very nice.  But I’m smart enough to know if I suddenly drop off the scene this week, all you’ve got to do is find somebody to preach Sunday and there are lots of people who can do that. 
 
I know I’m not the important person around here. Don’t ever think that because I don’t think that. I could be taken off the scene and this church would go right on because the beauty of this church is that there are people behind the scenes who faithful serve. 
 
And when we come to understand the real nature of servanthood, those people will be recognized and appreciated as those who represent Christ to us in the most real and sacrificial ways.
 
Finally, when we get serious about serving
 
  1. We’ll see people coming to Jesus Christ.
 
Why is that? It is because servants make their master look good.  People may not understand my sermons, they may not understand your theology and big words, they may not understand some passage of Scripture, but when you wash their dirty feet in the name of Jesus, they will understand that. 
 
Simple acts of service carry with them their own explanation.  And if you don’t care that God gets the glory for what you do, then you’ll do whatever you need to do to make Him the center of attention. 
 
Let me share with you an Old Testament story to illustrate that and then we’ll be though.  It’s found in 2 Kings 3.  In the opening verses of this chapter, we discover that King Ahab is dead and his son, Jehoram is now king of Israel, and a man named Jehoshaphat is king of Judah. 
 
Under Ahab, an annual livestock tax of 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams was being paid to Israel by the Moabites.  But after Ahab died, the king of Moab, a man named Mesha decided to not pay it any more. 
 
So Jehoram gathered up all the armies of Israel, enlisted the armies of Judah to help and decided to go down and collect the tax.  Along the way they also picked up the King of Edom and his armies. 
 
About a week into the journey, they ran out of water and they decided it was a judgment of God against them and decided to call the local Baptist pastor, a guy named Elisha, to see if he could help.  Well, Elisha, in so many words, told them he didn’t want to mess with them and they should go talk to the prophets of the gods they had been worshipping.
But they insisted and because of the life of Jehoshaphat, Elisha delivered to them a word from the Lord.  So he called for a musician to come and sing special music before he preached, and we pick up the story in
 
2 Kings 3:16-27
 
Now here’s the point:  I don’t care how valuable you think you are or how talented or special your giftedness, if you’ll just be available to dig some ditches and let Him get the glory, God will do amazing things in your life. 
 
Would you make it your prayer today, “Lord, make me a servant”? 
 
Do you want to know the hardest part of being a servant?  It is opening your eyes and seeing the needs around you so let me give you some help with that. 
 
At the end of each day this week, as best you can, I want you to think back to everybody you’ve met.  It might be the receptionist at the doctor’s office, co-workers, the guy across the street you waved at, friends, people in class. You may not even know their name, but you remember their face. 
 
Before you go to bed, think about everybody you met, everybody who intersected with you that day and pray for them.
 
You see, we’re all so self-centered and locked into our own problems and needs that we don’t see the people around us, let alone realize they have needs also. 
So if you will pray for those you’ve met every night before you go to bed this week, it will revolutionize your life. It will soften your heart and make you more sensitive when you meet people. 
 
You will discover that there are more opportunities to be a servant this week than you have ever dreamed. Your problem is that those people are just passing you by, and you are so self-centered and so preoccupied, you’re not even seeing them.  So ask God to open doors this week for you to serve somebody in His name, for His glory.
 
Who’s the greatest person at Trinity Baptist Church? I don’t know who it is, but I know who it isn’t. It’s not me. The greatest person at this church is the greatest servant, because he is the one most like Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves.” Let’s take the first step this week in becoming like Jesus Christ so that it might be said of us well, “There goes one who serves.”
 
Let’s pray.
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