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The Lord then pointed to His own self as an example, For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone, but to serve everyone, and to give his life in exchange for the salvation of many. Matthew 20:28 The Passion.
Photo above is the courtesy of www.LumoProject.com
Serving has an understanding of those who willing to get their hands dirty for the benefit of others. Those who humble themselves to serve the needs of others both large and small. Serving cannot be separated from the word servant. Our current understanding of a servant is a maid, a butler. But a maid or a butler we understand today is very different from the word servant himself. Servant comes from the word doulos, which means slave, messenger, courier. A slave is the one who lost his/her right to live and is sold just to live to serve their master. Maids must be paid accordingly, their rights to life must be appreciated. There are government agencies such as the Ministry of Labor, of Social Affairs, of Human Rights watching over us employing these domestic helpers. Slaves don’t have all of this. A dog is more valuable than a slave. A slave may be raped or even killed by his master, as a slave is only a property of the master. No one can argue with this or punish the master. The slave can only be freed by the generosity of his master or rebel and run away from his master. So as we know now slavery has been eliminated from our lives in modern times, at least in general that we know.
Normally we are willing to serve but easily upset if we feel unappreciated in doing our service. Feeling disrespected can come simply because there is no word or attitude of gratitude, or it can also be because the love offering (money) is too small. An attitude that is less welcome and unfriendly can make us upset. Yes, there should be a thank you. An attitude that welcomes well, friendly, and even the love offering should be appropriate. But often, if all of this is what we pursue in serving God, doesn’t that mean we don’t understand at all what doulos, serving as a servant (slave)of God mean? After all, isn’t it God who called and sent us? Isn’t it from Him that we would receive our thanks, appreciation, and reward later?
It’s not easy to serve others or to be servants. We all understand there is a heavy price to be paid. Many of us don’t want to wait for the reward to come, we only want today’s remuneration. The definition of the servant of God today also refers more to a big boss who must be served, not those who are directly involved and want to be bothered for others. Yet Jesus said clearly, whoever wants to be great among you, let him be your servant, and whoever wants to be prominent among you, let him be your servant; Matthew 20:26. Will we humble ourselves to serve others as servants?
Make me a head
Our prayers are clear, God makes me the head! Deuteronomy 28:13. But if we don’t want to apply Jesus’ principle, don’t expect this prayer to be answered. God doesn’t call us to be the boss. God calls us to be those who serve. And have a serving heart that will make us great because the greatest honor and glory are reserved for those who have a servant’s heart, Matthew 20:27. We have to change our concept here. The boss is the one who gives orders here and there, their wishes are to be followed. Aren’t they the ones who pay the wages and salaries that are being ordered around? The problem is often, we as God’s Servants, like to order our congregation here and there but then we are not the ones who pay their salaries. On the contrary, we become the ones who demand that they pay us through offerings, tithes, and collections. Why don’t we become a good example of serving our congregations first, then letting God touch their hearts to help us in return?
Many people like the Leadership Seminar because everyone wants to be a leader. But how many want to be servants? The first lesson that should be taught in those seminars is not a call to leadership, but a call to serve, Matthew 20:26. Because unless we have the courage to have a big heart that is willing to go down on our own, to get our hands dirty to serve others, it is impossible for us to become the leaders that Jesus wanted us to be. Yes, unless the leadership you teach is different from what Jesus taught, go ahead! Because to be big, the way to go is to be small.
To be low, to be humble
Who wants to serve the plates for others to eat at a church? Who wants to clean the dining table, wash the dishes after? Who wants to clean the church toilets, wipe, scrub all the urine stains until they are clean. And make sure the bottom part of the church’s toilet seat doesn’t have feces stains splashed all over the place? Often times we reluctant to clean our own toilet seat at home, we just flush everything without paying extra attention anymore, hoping that everything goes away by itself. Then came out of the toilet room pretending didn’t know anything. Come to the pulpit, then preach in such a way that we must serve. Why don’t we, God’s servants, come down ourselves to clean everything in God’s house?
There are Bible schools that assess the character of their students, are they willing to serve or not by whether they can make their own beds before they come out of their dorm rooms to come to pray together in the chapel. Every day they are scheduled to clean the whole school twice, before breakfast and before the afternoon class, just to get the students to have the habit of dirtying their own hands to be able to serve. Unfortunately, many of the students were still upset because they have to do labor work of cleaning or feel annoyed because their nap got disturbed. They arrogantly assumed that God had not called them for such things.
Lots of money
Yes, it is true that there are people we can pay for cleaning. There is a church janitor who would clean all of that. Aren’t they paid for it? There is nothing wrong with hiring them. It’s just often that we miss the opportunity to do small (and dirty) things we know in modern times like today only a domestic helper would do it. Why not us? Maybe because we have too much money, have what we call God’s blessing but actually has prevented us from learning to serve on our own. Maybe He shouldn’t have blessed us that much!
Take a look, many children who grew up in wealthy families do not have the heart to serve others. The reason is simple, their parents were too rich to never let them labor by themselves to meet their own needs, let alone to serve others. There were always domestic helpers, baby sitters, drivers, gardeners, washermen, chefs. We spoil our children like little kings but complain so much when they grow up to become lazy, love to order people around, demeaning everyone including their own parents! It is not wrong to have a lot of money, what is wrong is that we live too much on money and don’t want to bother ourselves with educating our children according to God’s Word. Remember this, if we always follow our child’s wishes, reluctant to refuse his/her request, don’t want to bother him/her (it’s enough with us to grow in a difficult time, we say), don’t be angry with them when they grow up to fill our life with lots of difficulties. Read Proverbs 22:15.
The question now is, have the janitor we hired been properly paid? Well treated? Or only to a minimum wage, but we order him/her here and there such as a slave? If so how can we be a witness of Christ to them at home or in our own church? Did you know that because of all that (our) bad attitudes the name of God is defiled in such a way by those low-societies who are usually not even our own people (different religions so to speak)? No wonder many of them never want to come to Christ.
No wonder in Indonesia itself, the rejection of Christianity which is considered a colonial religion by the natives is still happening here and there because even though the Dutch had gone, its spirit remains! We are more like a tyrant mentioned by the Lord in Matthew 20:25. We all must repent and turn to God, learn to serve like Him who came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28.
When Jesus took the basin and rag, Peter said in John 13:6, I cannot let You wash my dirty and smelly feet – You are my Lord! In verse 8, he says again, You will never wash my dirty feet – never! In many cultures, not just Jews, will we never hear a story of a master humbly washing the feet of those who have become his servants. Most likely it was done only by Jesus. This moment became even more heavy for the disciples as it reminded who they are to Him, they were His talmidim. As explained above, the talmidim of a rabbi are those who have left everything behind just to be the rabbi’s servants in order to learn God through this rabbi’s life. So the talmidim should wash the teacher’s feet, not the other way around.
That’s why Peter rejected Jesus strongly when He came to him. Twice even, and the second one with a little yell he said, never! But like Peter, we also have to understand that if we don’t want to go down and serve others, especially our own disciples, then you will not be part of Me, John 13: 8. The act of washing feet and serving others would show us whether we are willing to humbly share in the humbleness life of Jesus, or not!
Our Lord is a humble God. But many of us have a problem with that attitude of heart. We find it difficult and not easy. This is due to us putting our self-esteem and prestige too high. Maybe that’s why, this humble gospel is always welcomed in low-communities, welcomed by the poor, by those who are in trouble, by those who need God.
No wonder Jesus said in verse 23 toward the end, but to be the ones who sit at the place of highest honor is not mine to decide. My Father is the one who chooses them and prepares them. The Lord Jesus Himself was first chosen by the Father and prepared by Him. The words of John the Baptist in John 1:29, behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, refers to the Lord who was chosen from before the foundation of the world to be the Lamb who would bear all these sins, to bear them on the Cross once and for all, and to become a ransom sacrifice and peace offering for those of us who believe in Him.
Philippians 2:6-9 AMP says, that although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
Because of His obedience, God Almighty exalted and multiplied His greatness! He has now been given the greatest (and highest) name of all names! Verse 10 of Philippians 2. This is truly matched by Matthew 20:27 because the greatest honor and authority is reserved for the one with the heart of a servant.
Yes, like Jesus, many of us have been called by God, our Father. The question is will we respond to this call properly, like Jesus who left everything, especially His prestige and equality with God Himself, came down and served us who were lost? Will we leave our pride, our prestige, our status, our wealth to come down to serve those who are lost?