Sunday, September 25, 2011

Character of Christ - Servanthood

Philippians 2:7

Who, being in very nature god, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Humility and servant hood are unquestionably linked; in fact, Christ’s servant heart preceded the humility that led Him to the cross. Servant-hood is not for the faint of heart. However, it has a counterfeit in natural man, which sometimes makes us think this is an easier character trait to obtain. As Christians, we must never mistake volunteerism for servant hood. Needs abounded then and now. While Jesus met needs (and meets them), He was neither needs-driven nor needs-focused. The incredible beauty of Christ’s attitude of service rests upon the truth that He acted purely out of obedience to the will of God. True servant hood exemplifies such focus. The servant heart finds the answer to all of its needs in Christ and simply serves as a conduit to the world for the great Need-Meeter!

The desire to do good for others is not necessarily Christ-like. Alleviating suffering is Christ-like, and we are created in Christ to do good works. However, the Spirit of servant hood exhibited by Christ is far more challenging than simply doing good. Self seeks the spotlight in our lives; sometimes serving allows us to be noticed. Examining Christ’s life shows us that such service is not the servant hood He displayed.

Satan tempted Jesus to serve Himself…to use His power to meet His needs, to reveal His power and claim His inheritance. Jesus refused to rush the Father’s plan and gave glory to God in His refusal to lift up Himself. The disciples encouraged Jesus to pity Himself…to insist on His Kingship and demand the honor and glory He deserved. Jesus rebuked their suggestions and pressed on toward the Father’s will. Those who personally knew Jesus questioned His identity and said ‘show yourself.’ Christ refused the temptation to defend Himself and stayed firmly focused upon the will of God.

Each of those victories strengthened Jesus for His blood-wrenching night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is that night of prayer that reveals the heart of servant hood: ‘Not my will but thine.’ Those words are the heart-cry of pure service. As Christ’s earthly life neared its end on the cross, the crowds mocked Him with the words ‘Save Yourself.’ They, like many today, failed to understand that the focus on self never brings deliverance. Self steps aside in the heart of the servant to allow the purposes and plans of God to enter.

The King of Kings forfeited the blessings of heaven to wash the dirty feet of His most beloved creation: humankind. He endured betrayal, deceit, anger, disrespect, humiliation, torture, cruelty, injustice and death at the hands of those He came to serve. Not only did He endure it, Christ absorbed it and all of its consequences to accomplish the purpose--the will--of the Father. The heart of the servant is willing to do the same. Servant hood is not volunteering. It is life-giving sacrifice that costs all of self.

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