How to be Served

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with beholding-his-splendor-111076-mGod 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.” Phil 2:6-7

Most of the time, when challenged to think about biblical servanthood, my mind charges into a list of opportunities: what can I do? Who has God called me to serve? What are my gifts and who is most at need of comfort, encouragement, prayer—anything?

Of course, I can list a myriad of ways that I fall short—things I’m not doing. And, I’m grateful the Lord allows me to serve others in many ways. But, as I mulled over being a SERVANT sister, the Holy Spirit trickled thoughts into my mind, like tiny cleansing rain drops, offering me a fresh perspective on servanthood. I distinctly heard Him say, Who is serving you? Whose kindness and generosity are you benefiting from?

He led me to a verse that I’ve skimmed over many times, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me: to the one who orders his way rightly, I will show the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23

Maybe there’s more to “ordering my way rightly” than simply doing as much as I can for other people—more to service than serving.

This last week, I went through my normal routine: cooking and cleaning in my home, volunteer work at the hospital, laundry, helping at church, praying for others. Occasionally, these things inspire me to pat myself on the back. Sometimes they even leave a little chip on my shoulder when I think I’m doing more than my share of serving.

But, what if biblical servanthood is equally expressed through a humility cultivated by knowing how well I am served? What if it includes gracefully acknowledging and receiving service?

I thought about who serves me:

My husband who works everyday to provide for our family

The kind lady on the phone who helped me work out a banking issue

The friend who texted back immediately when I cried of being lonely

The Starbucks guy who gave me my coffee for free after I waited in line

The man who came to fix my washing machine

The humorous cashier at the grocery store whose smile brightened my day

More than any of those and certainly more significant than any act of service I have ever performed, is the example Christ set in His service of me. Often, I forget to look at His sacrifice in that context. I fail to be grateful that He still serves me by continually cleansing me from my sin and always interceding for me before the Father.

Father, make me a servant like Jesus. Open my eyes to see and receive the goodness of others with gratitude and humility. And above all, thank you for Jesus’ willingness to be a servant and to save me. 

 This was first published on the delightful website http://www.servantsisters.org

Hell is the Place of Justice

I’m not a fan of justice. That makes me sound amoral and seems to set me at odds with the Jesus I call, Savior. I submit to you that Jesus was no trumpeter of justice either. In fact, I think justice reigns in hell.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

I think we have a problem here.

Do you remember the parable of the unforgiving servant? An indebted servant was brought to the king to pay his debt. Fully unable to redeem himself, the king ordered the servant to be sold along with his wife and family. The servant groveled before his master, begging to be given one more chance. “Please, please be patient and I will pay you back every single penny.”

How the servant must have staggered at the response. I imagine that he had to be helped up off the ground, so astounded was he by the mercy extended toward him.

“I forgive you all your debt. You owe me nothing.” However, his good mood was short-lived when he came upon a fellow servant who owed him a meager amount. “YOU OWE ME!”

When the tables were flipped and the first servant was in a position of power, he demanded justice. 

Consider this equation.

INJUSTICE  = JUSTICE

There’s no solution. For the most part, society operates on a system of justice. Crimes deserve punishment. Debts require payment. There’s a sense of getting even in justice. It’s like a scale. If justice is meted out in equal measure to an injustice, then we are pleased. But do we really want to spend the rest of our lives struggling to balance the equation? Is it desirable to constantly be teetering back and forth between good and evil?

What we really long for is come to a full balance of justice. We would love to land fully on the side of justice such that our fears of being offended or of being the victim of injustice are never realized. What can we apply to injustice to equal justice?

INJUSTICE + MERCY = JUSTICE

The cross of Christ was God’s ultimate display of injustice and God’s ultimate display of mercy. The consequence is JUSTICE, a justice turned on its head. The perfect man, Jesus Christ was unjustly punished for man’s offenses toward God. The only justice that God could give man, prior to the cross, was hell. And so, God applied mercy to our sins. In one action, God applied injustice to Jesus and mercy to mankind. Now, we live in the shadow of justice.

God has been paid in full for all our sins. Like the first servant in the story, man has been redeemed from his debt in a cosmic display of mercy.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Justice has been turned on its head. God’s expression of mercy changes what justice is for us. It is now JUST for us to show MERCY, for that is what was shown toward us. However, in our world, this kind of mercy leaves Christians looking like a doormat. We can only let this mercy alter our understanding of justice as we walk in humility. To live justly, we must walk humbly with our God who teaches us mercy.