When I think of a spirit of service, I believe its close friend is a spirit of humility.
Humility requires us to take a keen look at ourselves. As the wise Mother Teresa once said,
“If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”
We know what we are: Sinners in need of a Savior and saints who are called to serve. Our sinfulness and saintliness are the primary reasons we need humility.
On the sinful hand, we know that were it not for the grace of God we would be eternally lost. Period. On the saintly hand, we know there is no greater calling, or work, than to serve those for whom the kingdom of God is in fact, Good News — the poor.
Apostle Paul — that enigmatic and passionate servant of God — reminds us in Ephesians 4: 1-3 (NIV) that:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
And Peter — the disciple formerly known as Simon — calls us to serve, not as people who must, but as people who are willing as God wants us to be. Not for money or praise, but because the reward of serving is in the privilege of serving (1 Peter 5:2-6).
Did you catch that?
In order to keep the spirit of service in our hearts, we must exude a courageous humble spirit. Let our attitudes always be teachable and moldable as we interact with others.
How can you exude humility in order to help those you work with today?
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I believe Jesus can help us out here with an answer:
In John 12:24-26, Jesus confronts us with the principles of servanthood. Like a grain of wheat, unless a man dies to himself, he remains alone. He cannot produce more seed … bear fruit … produce a harvest … unless he dies to himself. Jesus was the supreme example of this principle.
In another place, Jesus said that He came not to be served but to serve. Consider Jesus as Master washing the feet of His servants (disciples) in the Upper Room. What humility was shown in that simple, but defining act of service? But He told them (us) to serve likewise. Sometimes the very act of genuine service is humbling in itself.
Verse 25 relates that a man who loves his life in this world will lose it. Essentially, you must lose your life in this world to have eternal life in the next. But what does it mean to “hate your life in this world” as the NIV translates it? To me it is the same principle repeated from Verse 24. In humility, we must consider the lives of others more important than our own…. Even Paul spoke to these principles of service in Romans 12:1-16.
But my favorite verse in this passage is Verse 26. Jesus states, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.”
Wow! Jesus bids us to follow His example … to lay down our lives. To follow Him is to identify with His suffering and death … His sacrifice. But I think He also means for us to follow Him … to go where He is present … where He is ministering to suffering people. Why? Because we as servants are His hands and feet … His Body … here on this earth to “serve” others as He did. The Church was birthed to be Jesus, the Body of Christ, in this world. He (the Head) is leading us to follow Him … to minister … to serve. As 1 John 2:6 admonishes us: “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”
You want to know humility? Think about the last sentence in Verse 26: “My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
How humbling would it be to be “honored” by the Creator … the Almighty God … the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? We really have no idea what this means. The mere thought is beyond the imagination. How would God honor us … His servants? Yet, Jesus provides some insight for us in Matthew 25:14-30 aka The Parable of the Talents. Those who “multiplied the seed” given to them were commended: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come and share in your master’s happiness.” His joy is completed in us … His servants. His joy becomes our joy. His love becomes our love….
But notice this parable is followed by another aka The Separation of the Sheep and the Goats. The sheep … His servants … on his right hand are told: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” But in their humility they ask when did they ever “serve” Him. And through verses 35-40, Jesus reminds them of their “service” to Him. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
So connect these thoughts back to John 12:26 – “Where I am … there shall my servant be.” So to me, this is the question that should be asked: Are we looking for Jesus that we might follow Him and be (serving) where He is? When we take our eyes off of Jesus … we will most likely not be serving others; rather we will probably be self-serving. We have to fixed our eyes upon Jesus so we can follow Him if we truly want to serve Him.
At the end of our lives here, I think we should be saying: “I only did what was my reasonable service … in light of the love and grace God lavished upon me. I do not deserve any reward for performing my mere duty.” Should a slave be commended by his master for doing what he commands? Should an employee be commended for simply doing those things for which he was hired to do? So isn’t it humbling to know that God intends to reward us for our service to Him through Jesus Christ? I think so … This knowledge is nothing but humbling to me….