The Servant Perspective
Greetings all, I pray that you and your families are well.
Today I have been led to encourage our contemplation of and attitudinal development regarding our service to God. We are God’s servants. We were created to please God. What we think, what we do, and what we say should be pleasing to God.
Have you ever thought of it this way? Every thought that we think should bring glory to God. Every word we speak should bring glory to God. Everything we do should bring glory to God. This is humbling is it not? Isaiah 43:1,
“But now, this is what the Lord says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”’
God created us, he formed us, he has redeemed us, and he has called us.
No longer are we slaves to sin, no longer do we serve Satan. Instead, we serve God. But, do we really look at it that way?
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not get burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
With these words, God is encouraging his people, telling Israel, in this specific instance, that he has chosen them to serve him in a special way, as a suffering servant. These words for all of us today are to encourage us, as we too, as we are suffering servants for the God who made us. But He does not call us to just suffer without purpose and alone. Wherever, whenever, however, we suffer, God will be with us. Isaiah 43:5-7,
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth — everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
What can we, as servants to God, do to bring glory to him? Why be his witness of course.
Our God is honest and upfront with us. Never, does God's word tell us that we will have it easy and be able to avoid unpleasantness in our lives. Just because we believe in God does not mean that bad things will not happen in our lives. However, God’s word does tell us that he will be with us through these difficult times.
The world is in chaos today. Many people do not know the Lord and they are suffering, alone. It does not have to be this way. This is where you and I can make a difference. We can share the God of peace and comfort with our neighbors. Isaiah 43:8-10,
“Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears who are deaf (some of us have no clue). All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so others may hear and say, ‘It is true. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.’”
So, as Israel was called to suffer and serve, so each of us is called to suffer and serve. But what does this mean for us, today? I was led to the word of a self-proclaimed servant of God, James, the younger brother of Jesus, leader of the Jerusalem council. James 1:1,
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…”
I find it very interesting that James, being the younger brother of Jesus, so readily and publicly identifies himself as the servant “of the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Many of us, sibling rivalries noted, would have a difficult time saying that we were a servant of an older brother or sister.
But not, if you truly believed him to be the Savior of the world.
On the other hand, those of us with siblings, if we were proud of our older brother, would introduce ourselves as “James, a servant of God and brother to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. Admit it, we could do this right? “I'm the brother, or, I’m the sister of Jesus!”
Well, we are the brother or sister of Jesus. Here, James is spiritually mature enough not to lose his witness before he gets going. James is grounded in the thought and belief that he is a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the point of emphasis for each of us. We need this mindset.
Over the next few weeks, leading up to Easter, we will be looking to James, to glean some attitudinal understanding on what it means for us to be a servant.
Remember the cartoon, Yosemite Sam? He had a horse that would not stop when he said “Whoa”. So, he gave the horse an attitude adjustment with a 2 X 4 piece of wood. We all need “spiritual attitude adjustments”. Not with a 2X4, but with the word of God. The book of James will suffice, instead of a piece of lumber.
First, we have to overcome the negative connotation of being a servant. So many of us struggle with this understanding.
We are either a slave to sin or to God. You have to make your choice. Some of us, for all kinds of reasons, bristle at the thought we are a slave or a servant to anybody. I get this. However, by logic, we have to choose one or the other.
Do you serve Satan, or do you serve Jesus?
Believers automatically respond that we serve Jesus. But, do you?
Then, those who don’t know Christ, ridicule the thought that they are somehow evil, intentionally serving Satan. Yet, if this is the case, they are sinners, unforgiven, a slave to sin, unrepentant, and hell bound.
This is why we witness. The best witness is the suffering servant. A servant of God that understands what happens in the change from a servant of Satan that is in denial to a servant of God, a sibling of Jesus, willing to suffer and serve with a thankful heart.
How does this transformation take place? It is primarily the work of God’s Holy Spirit, but it really helps if we can be an example (a witness) for others to see and hear. James 1:2-4,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters), whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
If you do not know this lesson yet, you need to understand it now. Just because we are children of God does not mean that we are free from trials, pain, and suffering. God helps us to develop discipline and perseverance by testing us and disciplining us. This in turn strengthens our faith. Then, we can share this faith with others. We can also help others through the very same, or similar trials that we endured, serving God in the process. Hebrews 12:10-11,
“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best, but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
We all have to be trained by God’s discipline. All of us. I am one who has gone through this, reluctantly at first, but now I get it. I made things more difficult due to my being so stubborn. Also, I was not raised in the church, so I had absolutely no understanding of the transformational process at all. It is like spiritual training. But it hurts because God uses the most difficult times in our lives to teach us.
If we are going to serve a Savior who suffered and died for us, we are going to have to become a suffering servant too, just like Jesus. But God wants us to do it in our lives under our circumstances so that we can be a witness to others. James 1:5-8,
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God (through his Holy Spirit), who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
Sadly, much of the world today is double-minded. Most of the leaders where the power in today’s world is focused are double-minded. This means we have a challenge ahead of us. But it also means that the harvest can be great.
But we cannot serve both Jesus and Satan at the same time. If we still serve Satan, it is impossible for us to bring glory to God. It is by our fruit that the believer is judged. If our fruit has even a stain of sin, it is not worthy, it is rubbish to be burned. Like a tithe from a drug dealer today, or the sacrifice of a corrupt money changer in Jesus’ time. It's not worthy of our God.
James is all in on Jesus. He is encouraging us to not doubt, and to persevere in our faith, not to persevere in our sin.
The suffering servant has been freed from sin.
Do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC