May 21, 2013

A Servant Attitude

“Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All right reserved.”

            I want to take the time to delve into the subject of a servant attitude. I believe this is one of a number of key ingredients that is largely missing from the body of Christ today. So what does the Bible have to say about being a servant? Well, actually it has quite a lot to say! So who are we to serve? In this I think it important to start at the very beginning of our Christian lives – from the time we were first born of God.

Slaves of righteousness

            Let us go over to the book of Romans chapter six and begin with verse sixteen. Here we read, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which lead to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
            So we see from this passage that as sinners we were, past tense, slaves of sin, but that we have from the moment we were saved, become “free from sin” and “become slaves of righteousness.”
            Now you say, “It says slaves, not servants.” That is true. However slave is merely a very strong form of the word servant. So one could say that this service is absolute – it is a very certain thing.

Slaves of god

            We now know that as saints we are not slaves to sin but rather to righteousness, but who is our master? Well, if we continue to verse 22 of the same chapter, we read, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get lead to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” Well there is our answer; we are “slaves of God.” So the master we serve as slaves is none other than God Himself.
            So now that we know Whom we are serving, the question remains, how are we to serve? We look to Hebrews 12:28 for the answer. It states, “Therefore receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us have grace, by which we may serve God well-pleasingly, with reverence and godly fear.” There is our simple answer to our question! We are to serve “well-pleasingly, with reverence and godly fear.”
            So how do we go about this all? If we look at Romans 12:1 it is presented like this, “Therefore, brothers, I call on you through the compassions of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.” (LITV) Now this presentation to God is a onetime act. It is not something that needs to be repeated. Just like you don’t keep handing in resumes to a place once you’re hired there.
            Is there anything else we can add to our service to God? Once again the same chapter in verse eleven gives us a little more. It says, “In diligence, not slothful, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (LITV) So then let us serve the Lord with all diligence, being fervent in so doing.

Our bosses

            Knowing these things then, is there any other that we are called to serve? Yes, there is. We are to serve our bosses. We read thus in Ephesians 6:5-8, “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.” Now “bondservants” are a step below “slaves.” So we are called to obey our bosses just as we would obey our heavenly master – God. We are told that this is “the will of God.” Then let us do these things in “good will as to the Lord and not to man.” Besides we are told that God himself will reward us in the end for service well done.

Serve everyone

            So this all makes sense so far; we are to serve God, and our bosses. That’s not too bad! Oh, but wait! We read in Galatians 5:13 that we are “through love” to “serve one another.” In fact it continues by saying, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” So then it is clear that we are to render service to all people. In this way we demonstrate our love for all people. For we are told “not to love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
            So then one might conclude that it is of most importance to serve God and that serving people is not such a big deal. Yet this is a false conclusion. For we read, “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink: And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?’ And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me.’” (Matthew 5:37-40) So then we see that it is just as important that we serve God and people in the same way. For we read that “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me.” So then let us be very careful how we treat others, for as we treat them, so we are treating Jesus Himself! 

Subject to god

Now closely tied in to these things is subjection. This is primarily a military term. It means to be “under the control of another” or “to yield (oneself) to the will of another.” (The Winston Canadian Dictionary)
            So then whose control are we to be under? Whose will are we to be yielded to?
            Firstly then we are to be subject to God. We read these words in James 4:6-7, “’…God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” It stands then that those who refuse to “submit” to God and his will for their lives are filled with pride. For not to humble oneself and submit to God is to be “proud” and these God naturally will “oppose.”

The body of Christ

            Secondly, the body of Christ as a whole is to be subject to Christ. It is written in Ephesians 5:23-24, “…Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ…” So we see clearly that the church is to have Christ Jesus as its head. As well it is clearly stated that the church belongs to Christ – it is “his body.” Naturally, therefore, we as saints should be subject as a whole to our Savior.
            Sometimes we hear a pastor say that this is “his/her church.” This is not true. The church belongs to Christ as here stated in the Word of God.
            Continuing with the body of Christ. We are to be subject to those who are our leaders. For it is written, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
            Does this mean that we should obey them even if what they require from us is sinful? No, for again it is written, “…obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29b) However, apart from that, we are to submit ourselves to them. For they themselves will have to give an account to God for how they lead.
            Further, the younger ones are to be subject to those who are older. For it is written in 1 Peter 5:5, “…you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
            Of course young people often think they know better – this is pride. This is Lucifer’s path and we the younger need to submit to God and resist the devil that he flee from us. As part of this the younger need to submit themselves to those who are older. The younger have much to learn from those who are older and have experienced much more than we the younger have.
            One last thing as regards the church body. The women are not to teach but to be submissive. For it is written, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” In this day and age it is becoming more popular to have woman pastors. This is in direct rebellion to God. Once again this is an act of pride and I believe there is no greater sin than pride. In fact God compares rebellion to the sin of witchcraft!

The family

            Now let us go on to learn how submission works within the family setting. Let us begin with children.
            It is written, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20) Let then the children be in subjection to their parents without complaint. To not willingly obey your parents is to live in rebellion and of course this is sin of a very great magnitude! This too is the path that Satan chose! Don’t think that God will stand idly by as you live in rebellion to the parents God set over you as authorities! For once more it is written for those children who obey their parents, “’that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’” (Ephesians 6:1)
            Even Christ Jesus as a 12 year old child submitted himself unto his earthly parents even though he was of age. For we read, “And he [Jesus] went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.” (Luke 2:51) If Jesus, being God, submitted Himself to His parents, how much more you! Remember that as we treat our parents, we are ultimately treating Jesus Himself.
            Next in the family line are wives. Wives are to be subject unto their husbands. In this era of time we live in it seems these roles are being blurred to the extreme. Yet does the popular vote make something right? Does the majority rule over God? I think not! It is simply stated in Scripture, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) And again, “…as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (vs.24)
            I know this may be sounding old by now, but the truth is just as relevant. To not submit unto ones husband, is to be in rebellion against God Himself – that is serious! Do we really think we know better than God?! That is just what Satan the great deceiver would like us to believe – and yes, it is a lie!
            It may be the case that your husband doesn’t treat you well – it could even be that he’s not a Christian like you are. What should you do in this case you say? Good question! 1 Peter 3 has the answer. It says in verse one, “…wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” You might win your husband to the Lord by being “subject” to him, by being “respectful”, or by your “pure conduct”. You will not, however, win your husband by trying to be sexy! For these verses are followed by these words, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quite spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” (1 Peter 3:1-6) Don’t get me wrong, it is not a sin to look beautiful. However, there is a difference between glamour and beauty. Still, the outward veneer won’t convince a husband about God’s truth – that is left for the inward beauty of a saved soul to do.
            So don’t think you will win your husband by constantly nagging him about his faults! This is not God’s will, and if it’s not God’s will then how will he get saved? Further, even if your husband is a Christian but is living contrary to God’s will, and you’re nagging him to change his ways – it will likely fail, too. You ought to win your husband in the same way.
            The feminist movement of today would like us to think that wives are in some way being treated in an inferior way by men – that is a lie. Now it is true that men can be abusive and disrespectful – that is wrong, in fact, it is sin! God will hold them accountable for their hatred and pride. However, as the saying goes, “two wrongs don’t make a right!” So then, why not do things God’s way? As creator of the universe, surely He knows what He’s doing! Besides, we are called to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us – even if that is your husband. However, if the husband is obedient unto God it should be an easy thing to submit unto him as unto the Lord. To submit unto a husband who truly loves you should be a delightful thing indeed!
            Now lastly in the order of family we come to the husbands. Husbands, you have a responsibility like few others on this earth have! You are most certainly not off the hook! Let us first of all look at 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. It is written there, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” So then don’t deprive your wives from their rights. To do so is sin.
            Looking then at 1 Peter 3:7 we read, “…husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” We see right here, how seriously God takes the matter of how you treat your wives – even “your prayers” will “be hindered”! Husbands, if you expect your wives to respect you and love you from the heart, then you ought to love them as you would want to be loved! After all, we are to be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”, and that includes you as husbands “submitting” to your wives! (Ephesians 5:21)
            If that isn’t clear enough, the Scriptures state, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Husband, do you so love your wife that you’re willing to give up your own plans and desires in order to please your wife? Continuing, it says, “…husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29) Husband, do you nourish and cherish your wife?


            Lastly then we come to submitting ourselves to earthly authorities. Now one might think, this isn’t very important, it really has nothing to do with the church or Jesus - it’s just a secular institution. Well, I believe just the contrary is true. Let’s take a look at what God has to say on this subject in Romans 13:1-7. It says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
            So then, if we “resist” the “governing authorities” we are in reality resisting those whom “God has appointed.” This is such a serious matter to God that He says we “will incur judgment.” Now these authorities are themselves God’s servants, whether they realize it or not. Therefore we ought to pay our taxes and whatever other dues there are, including “respect” and “honor.” This leaves no room for grumbling against them. They are God’s servants and will have to answer to Him as their master. Further, if we cheat on our taxes we are not respecting or honoring them and since they are God’s servants we are ultimately disrespecting God and not giving Him the honor due Him. Not to mention that cheating on your taxes is essentially a lie and therefore sin. Just because everyone else is doing this doesn’t make it right. The fact of the matter is that we as Christians are called to be different. We ought to walk in such a way that the world can’t throw a stone our way and leaves them no reason to blaspheme God’s holy name. Let us be very careful then to be in submission to those God has set over us as His authorities!

Final things

            I want to leave you with some final challenges and conclusions.
            We conclude then that we are to be subject to God, Jesus Christ, authorities within the body of Christ, husbands, wives, parents, to those older then us, to each other within the body, and to governing authorities.
            We are to serve one another, thinking of the other above ourselves. Let us then see how we can serve one another without grumbling, but willingly as unto the Lord Himself.
            I’d like to look at one final example of these things before I draw these things to a conclusion. This example is taken from Luke 6:46-49. It is written, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
            In our culture the word lord has lost most of its meaning. Vine’s defines lord as “signifying ‘having power’ or ‘authority’…variously translated” as “’Lord,’ ‘master,’ Master,’ ‘owner,’” and “’Sir.’” Indeed Jesus Christ is all of the above. In fact 1 Timothy 6:14-16 says, “Jesus Christ…he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” We see then that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one having the ultimate “power,” and “authority.” As well the Lord Jesus Christ is thee “Master” and “owner” of everything – He has “eternal dominion!” Further we read, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
            Quite clearly Jesus Christ is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Yet, going back to the analogy of the building of a house, some were calling Him “Lord” and yet not doing as He told them to! What do you think would be your end if you didn’t listen to your boss?! I’m quite certain you’d get fired! Indeed how “great” a “ruin” will be to the one who doesn’t “do” as the Lord tells them to! For we read, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
            What, then, is the will of God? For the unsaved to “repent.” That is for the lost sinner to change their mind about their faulty beliefs of how to get to heaven and accept His message for them. For it is written, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
            Now finally, as a believer, have you submitted to the Lord’s will for your life once for all?


Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

1Corinthians 13:4-7
Victor Reimer
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