Servant – one who gives himself up to another’s will;
one devoted to another with disregard for their own interests
A friend of mine asked me and a mutual friend of ours to sing a duet at her wedding. Our friend had moved out of the area some years before and made the trip back for the wedding festivities. As the order of the ceremony was discussed at the rehearsal, we singers were left as bystanders just waiting for our signal to sing. My friend commented in his humorous fashion, “We are just the lowly musicians.” But he was actually right. We were there to do the bidding of the bride and groom. We were standing by to sing when we were told to sing and sit when we were told to sit. And it was the right thing to do. We were not the central focus of the wedding. Nor was the wedding being held so we could perform. We were honored to be asked to play a small part in our friend’s special day. A lot of people came and sat through the ceremony, but we had the privilege of being invited to take part in it.
Paul called himself a servant of Jesus Christ. The Greek word used is ‘doulos’, which means slave. He had voluntarily given up himself and all his earthly interests to answer the call of God and to do His bidding. He didn’t consider the cost too great. He considered the honor more than he deserved. Paul was single-minded and wholly devoted to Christ to the point of disregarding his own desires completely.
If we constantly consider our rights and what is fair, we won’t be Christ’s servant, and we will get in the way of God’s purposes. Jesus came to this world as our Savior and our example. He didn’t fight for His earthly rights or stop carrying out the Father’s will when He wasn’t being treated fairly. He said what the Father told Him to say and did what the Father told him to do, regardless of the consequences. He knew God’s plan was perfect, and he didn’t allow His flesh to lead Him away from it. God will not go along with our inferior, selfish plans. He has a greater purpose than we could ever imagine. And we are blessed beyond measure to be asked to take part in it. But we need to remember, we are servants. [See Luke 17:7-10.]
Jesus was clear about what is required of His servants. He said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27) The Greek word for ‘hate’ means to love less, to give a lower place of prominence. It does not mean that we totally disregard our families and hold them in contempt. It is a measure of our love for Jesus Christ compared to our love for our families. Our love for Jesus must supersede our love for them.
Jesus also said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) If we deny ourselves, we completely set aside our personal interests. We put the will of God first, and we follow wholeheartedly. Taking up our cross simply means we follow Jesus’ example of saying what the Father tells us to say and doing what the Father tells us to do, regardless of the consequences. We conform to the example He gave in His life and His death.
Becoming a martyr is not the point. The point is to follow the directions of the Master with complete abandon, and see His powerful results. Our dream may be to do great things and have a large following. God’s plan may be for us to do His work in obscurity. On the other hand, we may want to settle down in a small, peaceful neighborhood, and God may be calling us to the front lines. The question is, will we follow Him wherever He leads? Will we set aside our dream in this world in order to break into enemy territory and release souls from the kingdom of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of God? Will we do the work God has called us to, or will we take our ease, guarding our comfort and our rights?
It may seem we are being asked to give too much. After all, we only have one earthly life. Jesus only had one life as a human, too. But He gave it up for you and me, so that we could have eternal life. It is not an unreasonable thing Jesus asks of us. He gives us the opportunity to work with Him toward eternal things. Think of a high-profile person you would love to be asked to work with. It cannot compare to being invited to work alongside the God of the universe. And we can only do it because He paid the ultimate price for us.
First Corinthians reminds us we are bought with a price, then tells us what to do about it. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” (6:20) “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.” (7:23) Jesus set a value on us when He died in our place. The value was high. The price was the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Nothing else can remove our sins. Nothing else can save us. It was a tremendous price when Jesus took our sins on Himself. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Jesus bore in His body the sins of the whole world for all times. He took on our pain, our sin and the death that belonged to us. Have you ever felt the condemnation of your own sin or the pain of your disease? Imagine having the weight of all humankind on you all at once. He didn’t have to do that for us. He chose to. He valued us. What value do we place on Jesus? How we live our lives will give the answer.
Paul wrote in Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Jesus gives us a choice. Without His sacrifice, we had no choice. We served sin and we were going to die and go to hell for eternity. Now, we can choose to be free from that sentence of death. We can trade it for “life more abundant”, being in right standing with God and living forever in His presence where there is fullness of joy. We all make a choice. We either choose the default, which is serving sin, or we can opt out of the default mode and choose righteousness by yielding to Jesus.
So, how do we yield? When we yield to sin, we listen to the urging of our flesh and we follow what it says. Often, we are so used to the “little voice” that we obey without even realizing what we are doing. If we choose to yield to Jesus, we listen to the urging of the Spirit of God within us and follow what He says. (The Holy Spirit resides in those who are born again.) We also need to immerse ourselves in the written Word of God to guide us and help us know right from wrong. We simply stand ready by God’s side and do what He says. We offer ourselves to be used of Him. Now, in this world, people use us and then let us down. God loves us. He won’t do that. Remember the value He placed on you? He has a lot invested in us. He goes with us on every mission and never leaves us on our own. So we can confidently submit to his commands. If we yield to sin, the results will be disastrous and are irreversible. But we must make a choice. We cannot serve this world and Jesus at the same time. “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (treasure or whatever is trusted in).” (Luke 16:13)
As if having Jesus pay our penalty of death and giving us new life in Him wasn’t enough, He gives us more. If we want to receive it, we need to continue moving forward with Him and recognize the great authority He has as well as His endless resources and matchless power. There is no one greater than He is in any way. His majesty is unequalled in heaven and earth. We must bow to Him in every area, and recognize who we are without Him. But, we must also understand who we are because of Him.
Scripture tells us Jesus taught with authority. He cast out devils, healed the sick and raised the dead with authority. Even the religious rulers recognized His authority, but they were jealous and resisted Him. Authority is the ability or strength that one is empowered with. Someone with authority possesses the power to cause others to submit to their will and obey their commands. Those with authority in this world have limited, territorial authority. Jesus has unlimited power in every sense of the word. He could have made the scribes and Pharisees bow down and worship Him, but that was not the point of His coming.
In Mark 13:34-37, Jesus spoke a parable that tells us what He has done for us, His servants. “For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” A servant has certain responsibilities, but with those responsibilities come the resources and authority of the Master. This master gave the servants everything they needed in order to carry on His work until he returned. Jesus gives His servants everything they need, too.
In Luke 9:1-2, we read, “Then he [Jesus] called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” [See also Matthew 10:1-9]
Before Jesus ascended, He told his disciples, “ But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you….” (Acts 1:8a) It is the same Spirit by which Jesus worked miracles and the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. As servants of Jesus Christ today, we have been offered the same power and authority by the Holy Spirit. Jesus will return, and we will be called into account for what we have done with His power and authority while He was gone.
If we are still yielding to the things of the world, God cannot use us. If we yield to Him, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the will of God and empower us to do it. This is not an acquired power, but power that is inherent, “power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature”. It is not inherent in our fleshly nature, so the fleshly, sinful nature must die. This power is inherent in us only by the Holy Spirit abiding in us. That is why Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, not being conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to provide a body for the Holy Spirit to work through, and the Spirit within us is alive, fresh, strong, efficient, active and powerful. It is then that we can complete the “good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” in our lives.
When we choose to allow the Holy Spirit to direct who we are and what we do, we have begun to walk in the Spirit. We have become obedient to the character of Christ as well as the calling of Christ in our life. We have become a servant of Jesus Christ, and, like Paul, we will disregard our own desires to do His will. We stand by, ready to hear His command. When He says ‘go’, we will go. When He says ‘be still’, we will be still. A servant stays close to his master and listens…then obeys.
What are you doing with your authority?