SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF SERVANTHOOD
May 28, 2013
Today’s gospel: Mark 10:28-31
We are called to servanthood. We are slaves of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Many times we encounter difficulties in our service because we do not understand what it means to be a servant. In today’s short gospel reading, we learn seven basic principles about servanthood.
Principle #1: God owes us nothing, but we owe Him everything.
Peter said to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.” (Mk 10:28). Peter thought he was doing Jesus a huge favor, and was eagerly expecting what he might get in return. Well, Jesus owes us nothing, but we owe him everything. Jesus is not in our debt (we are not creditors), but rather we are deep in debt to him. We are not doing Jesus a favor, but we are the ones afforded a great privilege. We give up everything, but do not earn anything in return.
A servant or slave, with no rights of his own, with absolute claim by the Master, is just to give without expecting to receive. When he has done everything he has been commanded to do, he is to say that he is an unprofitable servant, doing only what he was obliged to do.
Principle #2: When we serve, we must be ready to give up everything for God.
A servant is one “who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for (Jesus’) sake and for the sake of the gospel” (Mk 10:29). This means that Jesus and his work, that of proclaiming the gospel, come first. This means that a servant is not to allow the priorities of family or secular work to come before the greater priority of God’s work.
Jesus of course does not deny us the blessing of family and secular livelihood. But God comes first, and together with that comes the work of the Kingdom. We serve God and not ourselves. Now when we do so and when we prioritize God, then everything else will fall into place.
A servant gives up good things for the sake of a higher righteousness.
Principle #3: When we serve and give up everything, we will be tremendously blessed.
Does it mean a servant is destined for a life of thankless service? Perish the thought. God is never outdone in generosity. A servant will “receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands” (Mk 10:30a). What we give up, God returns a hundredfold!
One leaves the comfort of his home to do mission, but is welcomed into many homes throughout the world, being hospitably treated as family. One leaves close relatives in order to serve, but has many more brothers and sisters in the Lord. One doing kids or youth ministry will spend less time with his own children, but will be privileged to positively affect the lives of many more kids and youth placed in his care. One leaves one’s homeland, but is able to claim many more lands for the Kingdom.
A servant knows that what he empties, God will fill up, what he gives up, God will restore, but even more. The more he gives away, the more he has!
Principle #4: Persecutions come with service.
Jesus says that we will receive bountiful blessings, but “with persecutions” (Mk 10:30b). To serve Jesus is to do the very work of God. When we do this, then we come against the enemy, who has dominion over the world. We enter into spiritual warfare. Since we face a formidable enemy, we will be bruised, battered and bloodied. Since we work in a world dominated by the evil one, we can expect to be oppressed and persecuted.
When persecutions happen, we should rejoice. It means the enemy thinks highly of our work to want to oppress us. It means we walk the very path of Jesus, the path of the cross. It means we encounter the inscrutable ways of God by which we are purified, so that we can attain to greater holiness.
Nothing, no matter how seemingly bad, can ever dampen the spirit of a servant!
Principle #5: The first will be last.
Jesus says, “many that are first will be last” (Mk 10:31a). A leader is up there, first in line, looked up to. But the Christian leader is a servant. The greatest needs to become the least. Those who have been graced and greatly blessed by God are to expend themselves in order to serve others.
A servant knows that he follows the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Master of all, but who expended himself in humble service. A servant is privileged to do the same.
Principle #6: The last will be first.
Jesus says that “the last will be first” (Mk 10:31b). The servant is the least and the lowest. But those brought low are the ones to be raised up by Jesus. Those who count for nothing are those whom God will use. Those who are emptied of self will be those who will be filled with grace by God. Those who expend themselves for the service of others will be the first in line to receive the crown of glory.
A servant is able to humble and even demean himself, knowing that such a one is whom Jesus himself will raise and extol.
Principle #7: The ultimate reward of a servant is eternal life.
To the one who serves, Jesus promises “eternal life in the age to come” (Mk 10:30c). The servant knows that he serves a divine Master, who awaits him in heaven. Life on earth might be greatly difficult and full of pain, but he knows he goes to a place where there are no more tears but only peace and joy. We suffer but for a short while, so that we might spend eternity with God in heaven.
With heaven to look forward to, a servant can endure all hardships!
There is no greater call than to be a servant of the Lord Jesus. Because we serve the One who gave his all out of great love for us, the servant can expect that only good can come out of his serving God. It might not seem that way at times. Spiritual realities are often hidden. But Jesus himself has given us these seven principles. We can only serve in faith.
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)