Summary: In today’s lesson we see five important motivations for wholehearted servanthood.
Two weeks ago I began a four-week series of messages titled, Wholehearted Generosity. Wholehearted generosity refers to a person who is completely and sincerely and authentically generous.
Wholehearted generosity begins with wholehearted commitment, which was the topic of the first week’s message. Then, last we examined the topic of wholehearted stewardship.
Today, I want to look at the topic of “Wholehearted Servanthood.” As was the case in previous weeks, this week’s message will be a topical exposition rather than a textual exposition.
Jesus was a unique individual. He lived about 2,000 years ago, and during his short life (of about 33 years) he made several statements that some said put him in the category of either a madman or an impostor. For example, Jesus said:
• “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
• “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
• “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)
If you have gone to church for even a relatively short period of time, you are familiar with these statements. But do you understand how radically preposterous these statements must have sounded to those who first heard Jesus say them?
He did not present himself merely as a way to God, but as the way to God. He did not merely claim to know God, but to be God.
That is why C. S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist of the last century, famously wrote in Mere Christianity, that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord of all creation.
When people say that all religions are equally valid, and that all roads lead to God, we must insist, “That is not what Jesus said. And that is not what the Bible teaches.”
Eternal life is found only in Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
A little over 33 years ago I came to accept that Jesus was not only Lord of all creation, but that he was also my Lord. I repented of my sin, and placed my full trust in him alone. So, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone I became a child of God.
The question I now face daily as a Christian is this: How do I best live for Christ right now? How do I live my life in such a way that it reflects my status as a child of God?
The answer, it seems to me, is found in imitating Christ. The Lord of all creation, the Lord of my life, lowered himself to become nothing, and then further lowered himself to die on a cross to pay the penalty for my sin that he voluntarily took upon himself. He came not to be served but to serve. His attitude must be reflected in all that I do. Philippians 2:4-8 describes his attitude well.
Let us read Philippians 2:4-8:
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:4-8).
We are called to a life of wholehearted servanthood. It is, of course, counter to our human nature. We want to be served rather than serve. We want to receive rather than give. That is how our fallen human natures function.
But Jesus calls us to something so much higher. The gospel teaches us that the way up is in fact the way down.
The Twelve Apostles were like us in so many ways when they followed Jesus on earth. They argued about who was the greatest, who was the closest to Jesus, and who would get the most recognition. But Jesus said to them that “many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Matthew 19:30), and “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).
Our natural urge is against being a servant. But Jesus gives us the power to overcome that urge and to live like he lived.
In our lesson today I want to give you five important motivations for wholehearted servanthood.
I. We Serve Because We Are Forgiven
First, we serve because we are forgiven.