As I’ve been meditating on what it means to serve God at home and in the church, the Lord brought to my mind a few scriptures that I mapped to seven qualities that I should actively pursue in serving God. This is not just applicable to elders in the church but is relevant to all members of the body of Christ in some way - whether a parent raising children at home, Sunday school teacher, sibling at home, or even one who just cleans up and sets up chairs and equipment for the Sunday meeting.
1. A servant of God must not be a “Benefactor” but a lowly servant
Luke 22:25-26 - 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.
Being a benefactor in the world is considered a good thing - one who helps others who are lower in status than them. A benefactor has men’s approval for how great and gracious they are to those who are lower than them. Benefactors reach down from a place of authority to assist those in need, sometimes even “lording it over them” and commanding them. Yet the calling of Jesus is fundamentally different. A servant does not reach down with orders from a place of authority, but insteads goes below everyone to “lift them up” through encouragement and service. They have no reputation before men for their great service and are considered the least of all.
2. A servant of God does not serve with their own strength
1 Peter 4:11 - Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ
If we are choosing to serve for people to notice or even for our own satisfaction and fulfillment because it makes us feel good, we may not be glorifying God. There are many charitable organizations even from other religions that serve in ways that are not glorifying God. What makes us different from them - we seek God alone for the strength to serve. Any service done without an attitude of seeking God’s strength at all times isn’t glorifying to Him. A God-glorifying servant can say like Jesus, “I can do nothing of my own apart from God’s help” (John 5:30; John 15:5)
3. A servant of God seeks to have a father’s heart and not just be a Bible teacher
1 Corinthians 4:15-16 - For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.
There is no shortage of Bible teachers from the days of Paul but there are very few who have the true heart of a father (or mother). But what is this heart of a father? If we read the above verse in the context of the earlier verses in the chapter. it is apparent. Read the entire chapter when you have time. Here are a few verses that represent that heart.
1 Corinthians 4:10, 13 - We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor… when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
One with a father’s heart is willing to be without honor so that the other brothers and sisters are lifted up, is willing to be seen as weak so others can appear strong. One with this heart will willingly embrace the rejection of the world and to be considered as scum and dregs that go unnoticed or discarded by people.
4. A servant of God must be more eager to serve in their own home than in the church
1 Timothy 3:4-5 - He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?
1 John 4:20 says that we can’t say we love God whom we don’t see if we don’t love our brother whom we see every day. Similarly, we can’t say we love to serve our brothers and sisters in the church whom we see once or twice a week when we don’t love to serve our spouse and children and siblings in our own home. Before we pray for a word to encourage someone in the church, may we first seek the Lord for a word to encourage our spouse and our children. Before we go to help in some way in the church may we find a way to lighten the burden on our spouse or parents at home. If I have a desire to fellowship with and encourage brothers in the church more than my own spouse and children, then I am deceiving myself that I am serving the Lord.
5. A servant of God remains UNWORTHY at all times even after serving faithfully
Luke 17:10 - So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’
The title or degree I receive when I have served God faithfully at home and in the church is “Unworthy Servant”. Only the Lord is worthy of glory or credit because, as was mentioned earlier, I am only able to serve with His power so how can I boast as if I have something or some gift or some service of my own to offer to others that I haven’t received from God.
6. As a servant my reward is the one I serve
1 Thessalonians 2:9,19-20 - For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God…
For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?
The only reward or crown I seek is to see the one I serve uplifted or to see the child I raise become a disciple of Christ. I delight in the saints of God themselves and not in my service to them (Psalms 16:3)
7. Jesus is my role model in serving
Matthew 20:28 - The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many
May I seek to follow Jesus as one who serves and is not served. May I seek to be one who is willing to do the dirty work as Jesus did when He washed the grimy feet of the disciples.
When we think of heaven, we think of Jesus being seated on a throne. But there is another beautiful picture of Jesus when he returns to take us to heaven:
Luke 12:37 - Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
The Message paraphrase says Jesus will “put on an apron” to serve us. What a beautiful picture of Jesus.
May I be found as one willing to gird myself and serve here at home first and then in the church and even in heaven alongside Jesus.