Summary: Giving, Forgiving, Forgetting, and Serving. “Father, please transform my life so I can become more like Jesus every day.”
Who was the greatest person who ever lived? Without question, no person more greatly impacted the course of history than Jesus Christ. He didn’t do it through wars, conquest and domination. He changed the world by serving others.
Jesus was the supreme example of servanthood. So how can we ever be just like Jesus? He was God, we aren’t. He could rely on His deity to make good choices, we can’t. He never fell to temptation, we do. When He wasn’t talking and ministering to people, He spent His time in prayer. We don’t because there just isn’t enough time in a day! Jesus loved unconditionally; we love when the conditions are right. It seems impossible to be just like Jesus in our world today. Times are different; life is faster, more complex, and much more complicated. In fact, we reason; if Jesus were to come to earth today, even He would have a difficult time being Himself! That couldn’t be further from the truth; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “I have come into this world to serve, not to be served.” Imagine the creator of the Heavens and the earth came to serve. The highest of high, the Holiest of Holy, the mightiest of mighty came as a servant to teach servanthood to those who were called to be followers of Christ. If we are to be like Jesus, we are simply called to be servants. In the book “The Servant Principle”, Rick Ferguson writes; “Servanthood is not a very popular subject. Servanthood has a cost of personal investment that goes against everything we are taught. Servanthood totally conflicts with the self-centeredness ingrained in every person and this request to deny all personal desires is never met with excitement. No one wants to hear the call to relinquish all personal rights and privileges. No one wants to accept the challenge to develop a slave’s mindset. Servanthood contradicts absolutely every single thing inside us. Everything. Everything, that is, except the Spirit of God.”
According to Jesus, “The way to become great is to become a servant.” It should be very comforting to us to know that Jesus had to teach this servant principle to His disciples – men He had called to help Him in His ministry. They were just people like us when Jesus called them, all twelve wanted to become great, all twelve wanted prestige and power, all twelve were jockeying for position….they even had their mothers involved in that pursuit of power! Jesus told them “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Jesus defined the servant principle with two different Greek words, Diakonos and Doulas. Diakonos (Dee-Ak-O-Nos), where churches get the word “Deacon,” literally means “kicking up dust.” It was the Greek word for “Servant of a King” and it came to be associated with a servant so anxious to serve, he kicked up dust running to obey his master. The second word, Doulas (Du-Las), means slave, or someone so devoted to another that they disregard their own interests. Using these two words, Jesus said if you want to become great, you must have the mind of a servant and the heart of a slave.
"Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become 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 as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:2--28)
Using that description from Jesus, the original servant, we can look to Paul as the second best model of a person the mind of a servant and the heart of a slave! Paul who started out as a powerful Pharisee, educated, proud, and certainly on his way up in the world was radically transformed through an encounter with Christ. Chuck Swindoll writes in his book “Improving Your Serve” that it’s possible to have the notion that the Apostle Paul “rammed his way through life like a fully loaded battleship at sea. Blasting and pounding toward objectives, he was just too busy and important to worry about the little people or those who got in his way. After all, he was Paul! But that false impression begins to fade when you read how he began each and every correspondence with the words Paul, a servant…or Paul, a bond-slave.” Paul found contentment, peace and joy in all situations because of his servant heart, he knew that the seasons of life come and go, and that God was always in control. He was less concerned with his situation and more concerned others. Paul’s outlook was just that – looking outward rather than inward.