We need to ask ourselves, “How can I better serve others, in my family, in the church, at work, in my community?” We need to ask in our Life Groups: “How can we better serve each other, our group, our church, our community?” We need to ask as a church: “How can we better serve others?”
What does this look like? How do we re-elevate our service?
Luke 22:24-27 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.
Phil. 2:3-7 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Those two passages of Scripture are very powerful. Basically we are being told that we are called to serve! Say to the person beside you: “I’m here to serve YOU!”
I don’t know about you, but no one out there is telling us we should all aspire to be better servants, to look for ways to serve others; that’s just not our culture. No one is saying this… except Jesus! Here is Jesus, sitting at the table at the Last Supper, seated in the place of honor (note Jewish practice of the sedar meal) says, “I may be seated in the seat of honor, but “I am among you as a servant!” In this we see the humility of Jesus that Paul later talks about in Phil. 2!
TO ELEVATE YOUR SERVICE YOU HAVE TO HUMBLE YOURSELF!
Fact is, no one truly likes a braggart, as the stories of their own greatness are hard to listen to on a steady basis, even though we’ve all been guilty of this. It’s also strange and yet symptomatic of our humanity, that the disciples would be sitting around arguing over who is the greatest among them; especially against the backdrop of Jesus talking about his ultimate death and that one of them would deny him! I’m sure that they all had some qualities of greatness, as we all do, however, such a conversation seems alien to us; especially among men whom we expect more from…
But, if we are honest, we have to admit that our humility is often false. We may not say that we are the greatest, but we think and live as if we are- both within the church, and in terms of how the church can often be depicted to the culture. After all, in our individualistic society, no one is more important than the self, and we are all, so often, competing to see who can be the greatest.
Ali said he was the greatest, and then he got beat!
Hitler said he, and his German race were the greatest, but then they were guilty of one of the most horrific holocausts of history!
Denominations and church affiliations often argue about who is the greatest, although they may not admit it, and yet it is reflected in how we can mistreat one another!
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to be humble when almost everything and everyone around us is telling us to “indulge ourselves, you deserve it for you, serve yourself…”
Being aware of their conversation (how embarrassing), Jesus teaches his disciples about humility. “…Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.” Jesus offers himself as the example of true humility. As the Son of God, he has every right to sit at the table and be served by others. As God in human flesh, he is worthy of all glory, praise and honor, yet he comes among us as one who serves- Paul again writes, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”
The “King of the Hill” Illustration: First one to the top, regardless how you get there, is “king of the hill!” But, in Jesus’ example, the “king” is helping everyone get to the top! Every 14’er I’ve summited with Mark and Tom they’ve let me summit first! Craig and Joel left me behind on Quandry!
Again, Paul teaches about having this spirit of humility in his letter to the Philippians. He writes and here is how the NIV relates it…
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:3-8)
So, think about the possibilities, think about what it would, and should be like, if we all were able to humbly say, like our Lord, Jesus Christ, “I am among you as one who serves”… others, in our Life Groups, as a church. It could look like this: Acts 4:34 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
What’s interesting about this statement regarding the NT church is that it speaks of people who were putting into practice what Jesus said- “Be among others as one who serves!” This IS NOT a statement about money or socialism or selling everything you own and giving it away- don’t miss the point here!
This is revealing people who elevated their service because they profoundly humbled by and understood 2 things:
1) We are all, in some capacity or another, in need! 2) We are all, in some capacity or another, able to meet needs!
Interestingly, it’s not about focusing on our own needs- which is what self indulgence dictates; but about focusing on how we can meet the needs of others- which is the attitude of Jesus reflected in the dynamic- “I am among you as one who serves!”
What could it look like, accomplish for God’s glory, if all of us, compelled by a love for God and for others, and a sense of shared responsibility, conducted our lives by this simple creed: “I am among you as one who serves!”
TO ELEVATE YOUR SERVICE YOU HAVE TO SEE TO THE NEEDS OF OTHERS!
As important as it is to be cognizant of and compassion regarding the needs of others, and meeting those needs, there is another heightened element to this that Paul articulates when he says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (empty glory). Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others…”
Do you see that? There is more to serving than simply addressing needs– elevating our service also involves looking out for the interests of others!
The “interests” of others is NOT what we think it is! We think it means what they’re interested in, like sports or shopping or history or coffee. The Greek word here is tokos, and it’s from the root word tikto meaning “interest bearing!” And the implication is not merely what people ARE interested in, but more profoundly, what God wants to produce, bear, or bring forth with their life! And in that respect, we all have a responsibility to serve others and assist them in bringing forth, giving birth to, producing God’s purpose!!!
So serving is more than meeting needs, it is enabling someone’s life to produce God’s purpose!
Several years ago, God radically rocked my “church life” when He basically told me that he was not impressed with the “church I was building!” Instead he said to me, “Can you serve the next generation? Can you build them so they can build my church?” It was based on 2 Sam. 7. And I have to tell you, it was very hard at first- dismantling systems and structures that were all about promoting the wrong metrics for success, and establishing a spiritual greenhouse environment that would set up the next generation!!
Even in the process of planting our first church with a next generation leader, my insecurities surfaced and I struggled with my pride and selfishness! And constantly throughout that time, the Spirit of God was gently and oftentimes roughly reminding me of Jesus’ words, “I am among you as one who serves… I’m here to set you up. Although I am the King of all the mountains, I’m here to help you up the hill so you can sit with me!”
When you think about it, SERVING OTHERS IS SIMPLY ABOUT SETTING SOMEONE ELSE UP FOR SUCCESS! You are simply helping them up the hill- whatever challenge they may be experiencing at that moment in their life. You are moving beyond compassion to making an investment! Yes, Jesus is compassionate; but Jesus didn’t do what he did because he pitied us! He provided a way for our lives to be restored and elevated as the children of God!
Re-elevating your service is how you think because it’s how Jesus thinks. It’s about compassion, yes, but it’s also about going to the next level and making the investment in others so that God’s purposes can be produced in and through their lives! It’s about “I am among you as one who serves!”
Remember Mt. 20:16? Jesus says, “The last will be first and the first will be last!” Those words are all about elevating your service to others!
Putting it into Practice…
Can you say like Jesus, “I am among you as one who serves?” Process that…
Can you say, “I want to look out for the interests of others?” Process that…
Can we say, that at GCC, in our Life Groups, and personally, that we are all about “serving others?”