Summary: Jesus reminded the disciples that the very thing that they should be doing when He comes back is serving. He wants to find servants who have given their hearts to live out God’s purpose and to serve the needs of others.
A Servant’s Heart
Luke 12:35-44, 48b
What a great church huh? Too often that’s the attitude we’ve been conditioned with in our lives. It’s the way we approach restaurants we eat at, stores where we shop, the services we pay for and sometimes it even impacts the expectations we bring to church. Every television ad we see, every commercial on the radio we hear, every newspaper ad or billboard we read tells us this life is about us. Life is more hectic, more demanding and more difficult than it’s ever been and you deserve to have your needs and expectations met.
And then we come to church and hear a completely different message. For Jesus said, "Whoever wants to save their lives will lose it. Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." Matthew 16:25 Jesus gave us a radically different example. Jesus didn’t come to live for himself and expect others to meet his needs or do his bidding. Jesus didn’t come to be served but to serve. Jesus didn’t come to receive glory but to glorify the Father. Jesus, the King of the universe, the Savior of the world, intentionally chose to become a lowly servant. Serving goes to the very heart of Jesus. You can’t get to know and understand Jesus until you first understand that at the heart, Jesus came to serve others. His service went all the way to the cross. And he called those around him to become servants with him. So every time we serve, it connects us to the heart of God while also connecting us to Jesus. Every day Jesus calls all of us to be servants.
In our Scripture today, Jesus reminded the disciples that the very thing that they should be doing when He comes back is serving. Jesus didn’t say, "When I come back I want to catch you hunting or fishing." Or "When I come back I want to catch you watching tv, or gardening or knittng" No, he said, "When I come back, I want to catch you serving." In other words, when Jesus comes back, He wants to find servants who have given their hearts to live out God’s purpose and to serve the needs of others.
This idea of servanthood may be the most difficult thing for us to understand in our culture today. Servanthood requires a mental shift, a change in your attitudes and a change in your heart. God is always more interested in why we do something than in what we do. Attitudes count more than achievements. We’re not simply looking for folks to fill positions, but God’s looking for people who are willing to fulfill their God-given purpose with a servant’s heart. King Amaziah lost God’s favor because although he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, he did not serve with a servant’s heart. Real servants serve God with a mindset of five attitudes.
First, real servants are self forgetful. They focus on others, not themselves. True humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less. Paul said to forget yourself long enough to lend a helping hand. This is what it means to "lose your life"-- forgetting yourself in service to others. When we stop focusing on our needs, we become aware of the needs around us. Jesus "emptied himself, (in other words he stopped thinking of himself and pursuing his desires and wants) by taking on the form of a servant." Phil. 2:7 When was the last time you emptied yourself for someone else’s benefit? You can’t be a servant if you’re full of yourself. It’s only when we forget ourselves that we do the things that deserve to be remembered.
Unfortunately, a lot of our service is often self-serving. We serve to get others to like us. We serve to be recognized. We serve to achieve our own goals. That’s manipulation, not ministry. That’s service while thinking about ourselves and how noble and wonderful we are. Some people try to use service as a bargaining tool with God: "I’ll do this for you God, if you’ll do something for me." Real servants don’t try to use God for their purposes. They let God use them for his purposes. Thinking like a servant is difficult because it challenges the basic problem of my life: I am, by nature, selfish. I think most about me. The opportunity to be a servant confronts us dozens of times a day where we’re given the choice to decide between meeting our needs or the needs of others. Self-denial is the core of servanthood.
We can measure our servant’s heart by how we respond when others treat us like servants. How do you react when you’re taken for granted, bossed around or treated as an inferior? The Message paraphrase of Matthew 5:41 says, "If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life." Being a servant has little to do with us, and everything to do with others.