Volume 19, Issue 42 (October 15, 2017)
“Servant of All”
By Kyle Pope
It almost defies imagination to consider that the One through whom all things were made (John 1:3), took “the form of a bondservant” (Phil 2:7) when He—the Word of God “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). If ever there was One who walked the face of this earth who was worthy of all honor, glory, and praise, it was Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, with the exception of the fleeting honor bestowed upon Him when He entered Jerusalem at the beginning of His final week before the cross (Matt. 21:9), most of His life on earth was characterized by service. This was, in fact, His objective—“the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). This sacrificial attitude was more than simply a part of man’s atonement, it set an example to be followed by His disciples. When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, He explained, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). Although Christians are exalted in Christ to “sit together” with Him “in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6), we too are to take the form of a bondservant—“If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
This principal is easy to teach, but harder to implement. How can we serve others? What situations arise that present opportunities for service? We may have a desire to follow Christ’s example, but how do we do it? Let’s consider a few practical ways we can become a “servant of all.”
Help someone with a move. One of the most frantic and exasperating times is when facing a move. Boxes need to be packed. Furniture needs to be moved. It may be that the person can’t afford to pay movers. When Christians are willing to help someone at this exhausting, stressful time we, like Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus can “refresh” the spirit of another (1 Cor 16:17).
Sit with someone at the hospital. When loved ones face an illness or surgery, anxiety fills our hearts. Will they pull through? Will all be well with them? When another soul is with us, it can offer great comfort. We don’t have to have special words. We don’t have to offer advice. Sometimes it is just about being there. When Job was in anguish his friends sat with him in silence for seven days to “mourn with him” and “comfort him” (Job 2:11, 13).
Fix a car, do a repair around the house, or mow a lawn. I do not agree with those who would argue that mowing someone’s lawn or fixing a person’s car is “an act of worship,” however, when we help others who may not be in able to help themselves we do so “as to the Lord and not to men” (Col. 3:23). Maybe it is an elderly member who can’t mow her lawn, or a young couple whose car breaks down—Jesus said what is done “to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt 25:40).
Take food to a shut-in. The word Jesus used in Mark 10:45 translated “to serve” is the same word used in Acts 6:2 of the regular support of widows in the church in Jerusalem—“to serve (diakoneō) tables.” The noun form is applied to appointed servants in the local church—“deacons” (1 Tim. 3:8-13; Phil. 1:1). Taking time out of our day to make food preparations for those who are sick, or elderly, may offer that person some needed relief, and show them that others care about them.
Give financial support. The New Testament does not say much about men who offered financial support to Jesus during his earthly ministry, but we are told that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna “provided for Him from their substance” (Luke 8:1-3). We may not be able to do some of these other things, but perhaps we can help someone financially. Many around us face difficult times. Many gospel preachers depend on outside support to preach in difficult area. Local churches are dependant upon regularity in giving to fulfill the work of the church.
Study the Bible with someone. When Mary and Martha had Jesus into their home, Martha allowed herself to be anxious and distracted with serving and preparation, while Mary focused attentively on Jesus’ words (Luke 10:38-41). Certainly, efforts to feed and host the Master were honorable, but attention to God’s word, in contrast to material service, was identified on the part of Mary as choosing “the good part” (Luke 10:42). When we find opportunities to study the Bible with others, or invite them to services—when we host a Bible study, or help others understand God’s word we offer them service that is of eternal benefit.