Spiritual Disciplines (05) - Service
Luke 22:24–27 - And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27 “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
Philippians 2:3–11 - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. . .
True Service is Attitude - We are not to act out of selfishness (Phil. 2:3ff), but to have this “attitude” (phroneo, “mind”) like Jesus who gave up heaven to be a suffering servant (Is. 53) for the sake of our salvation. It is the grace of not esteeming ourselves higher than we ought that provides the internal motivation (attitude) to serve others.
True Service is Action - In Jesus’ preeminent example of a servant, as a menial servant, He washes the disciples’ feet. Only John gives us the example of foot-washing (Jn. 13:4ff), but in the Gospel of Luke we are told more about the occasion. This example of servanthood and humility was prompted by this: “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest” (Lk. 22:24). This happens just before the washing of the disciple’s feet. Essentially, the disciples are concerned about the pride of position even at the Lord’s Supper. This is rebuked by the action of Jesus’ washing their feet.
True Service is Awarded - Jesus taught that the one who serves is greatest. This means the servant is rewarded (finally) in God’s heavenly kingdom (Mt. 5:12, 6:4: Lk. 6:23). The one who serves is rewarded beyond the temporal awards of servanthood (which vary). In Luke Jesus speaks of the “the leader [being] like the servant” (22:6) and asks rhetorically, “who is greater?” (22:27). Elsewhere the point is stated plainly: “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mt. 20:26; 23:11); “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mk. 9:35) and “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Mk. 10:43). “The supreme test of service is this: 'For whom am I doing this?’” (A.T. Pierson).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more