Summary: If we are going to find true happiness in life as Christians, we must learn some important lessons regarding service to others in Jesus’ name.
The word Jesus uses here as he speaks about mercy is most interesting, The word comes from the Greek word, “eliamosuna,” from which we get the “eleemosynary,” which means “benefactory.” In other words, the essence of being merciful is benefiting or serving others. Indeed, such is the case with the mercy of God.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with hrist even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.” - Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” - Titus 3:4-5 (NIV)
“But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!” - Philippians 2:7-8 (Amplified)
In fact, Paul cites the example of Christ’s servant-hood as an expression of God’s mercy toward us as he exhorts believers to serve one another.
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.” - Philippians 2:1-5 (The Message)
Service - giving of oneself to others - is the essence of being merciful; and Jesus tells us that if we are going to be truly happy in life, we must gain the proper perspective on service. We must develop a servant’s attitude in our relationship with others. I want us to notice two things that Jesus tells us here about demonstrating mercy by serving others.
1. The basis of our service - v. 7a
The basis of our service is the fact that we have been the recipients of God’s mercy.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Mark 10:45 (NLT)
Even as Christ, for our sake, offered Himself as a servant to us, we, for Christ’s sake, are to offer ourselves as servants to others and thus, demonstrate what mercy is all about. This kind of example is so needed in our world today, which doesn’t understand mercy and which doesn’t understand service.
It is said that today’s economy is a “service economy,” but everyone is spelling service, “serve us!” Today’s world thinks that service is all about my getting what’s coming to me.
But the world doesn’t know what real service means and that’s because the world is ignorant of what mercy is. Mercy is not about my getting what I deserve, it’s about my not getting what I deserve; in fact, it’s about my getting what I don’t deserve!
We, who by the mercy and grace of God, have not received the punishment we deserve, but have instead, received the forgiveness we don’t deserve, should be able to demonstrate to others what mercy is all about through of service. Our responsibility is to let the world know of God’s mercy by serving them in Jesus’ name.
2. The benefits of our service - v. 7b
The benefits that you or I receive as a result of serving others in the name of Jesus are far greater than the world can comprehend.
The three sons of a lawyer, a doctor and a minister were talking about how much money their fathers made.
The lawyer’s son said, “My father goes into court on a case and
often comes home with as much as fifteen hundred dollars.”
The doctor’s son said, “My father performs an operation and earns as much as two thousand dollars for it.”
The minister’s son said, “That’s nothing. My father preaches for just fifteen minutes on Sunday morning and it takes four men to carry the money.”
Of course, you and I know that the benefits that comes from demonstrating God’s mercy through serving others in Jesus’ name are often not monetary. However, they are, nevertheless, greater than anything the world offers. Why? Because the mercy received by those who show mercy comes from God, not this world.