The Heart of a Servant
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” —Matthew 10:24-25
In the process of training His disciples, Jesus informed them that the disciple was not above his master, and neither was the servant above his Lord. He was warning His disciples about the treatment that they should expect from the surrounding world. As the world treated Jesus, so may we expect the world to treat us, providing, that is, that we model the same life to them that Christ modeled during His earthly sojourn. Therefore, the believer should study, reflect upon, proclaim, and display the attitudes, beliefs, activities, and reactions exhibited in the life of Jesus. This is an attitude that should dominate a believer’s life. Of a certainty, only the Holy Spirit can bring to us what is needed to become Christlike. As we study the attributes of the life of Christ, we must always keep our dependence upon the finished work of Christ. This is what the Holy Spirit looks for that He might continuously supply the grace needed to change us into the image of Jesus.
Seeking the Approval and the Applause of Men
In Matthew 12:16-21, we find several outstanding attributes of Christ’s ministry. Here we find that Jesus did not pay attention to the applause or approval of man. In truth, His greatest troubles came as a result of His refusal to seek men to substantiate His ministry. He did not diminish or discard the God-given ministries of those around Him, but neither did He pursue their attention or approval. He knew that neither their recommendation nor rejection could establish God’s plan for His life. He looked to God His Father to establish Him, maintain Him, protect Him, and to furnish Him with all He needed to complete His ministry. Whenever men desired to elevate Him or make Him king, He withdrew from their attentions and their efforts. He knew that only God could properly position a man to successfully fulfill His God-called purpose. Jesus also relied entirely upon the Holy Spirit to minister through Him to the broken reeds and the smoking flax of mankind. It is a sad truth that in the modern church, in our insane push to be seen and approved by other men, we often ignore or abuse the very ones to whom we are called to minister. Jesus concentrated on the mission that God had given Him in the setting in which He was placed. He trusted in and depended upon the anointing of the Holy Spirit to reach the hearts and lives of those who came in contact with His ministry. Do we understand that it is God alone who sets each of us in our appropriate positions and not man? If we do, then we will not rush to be known or influential. Instead, we will rely upon the Holy Spirit to help us be effective in our God-given positions, to help us win the lost and to edify the body of Christ.
The Desire to Exercise Dominion
While in Bible college, I became well acquainted with Brother Gilbert Morris. Brother Morris was a loving pastor, teacher, and author. To me, he became both a friend and a mentor. He was well known for his unusual insight into life and could both convict and instruct you with one short sentence. One of the things he used to teach was that we all think to ourselves, “When I’m king, they’ll do it my way.” Ever since the fall, mankind has desired to be king. By that, I mean that we desire to be in charge of everything in which we are involved. It’s this negative result of the fall that impacts all men and that which makes unity and cohesion so difficult. This negative trait causes great problems in both the workplace and within the church of Jesus Christ. We find that Jesus’ disciples exhibited this desire to be king. They even argued about who might be the greatest among them (Mark 9:33-34). Jesus taught His disciples that those who are truly the greatest among us will strive to be servants to others. This is not a false humility that is put on display in a fleshly effort to appear humble. This must be a true attitude of the heart that allows the life of the one to be utilized to benefit the lives of others. Jesus said, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister” (Matt. 20:26). Do we live to be king or servant? Jesus declared, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Do you have the heart of the king or the heart of the servant?
The last attribute that I will mention is the need to be faithful. Faithfulness is required of all those who would be a servant of Christ. Christ Himself was faithful to the purpose and call of God, even to the result of the laying down of His life. A person who is faithful to the position that God gives is hard to find. Even within the confines of the true church of Jesus, finding believers who are faithful is unusual. I remember a time, in the first church that I joined after becoming a Christian, when the pastor called for a work day. The men of the church were to gather on a certain Saturday and take care of some of the maintenance needs of the church. I was excited to be able to help and to fellowship with others with whom I worshiped each Sunday. I was somewhat taken by surprise when only four men (this number included the pastor) showed up. My pastor, a very godly man by the name of Carl Carpenter, informed me then that only a few would be willing to do the work that benefited the many. When we finally see Christ, He will not question us as to our position or level in ministry. Instead, He will judge us as to our faithfulness, or our lack of faithfulness, to the duties He assigned us. As for me, I desire to hear the Master say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant … enter thou into the joy of thy lord!” Let us always seek to develop, by God’s grace, the heart of a servant.