So many times, in our culture especially, we hear the word “servant” and have a negative reaction. To be a servant means that we are obeying the wishes of someone else, whether we are getting paid to do it or not. We all want to have control – I think it is a very human reaction to desire control over our lives, our circumstances – because when we are in control, we feel like we are safe. Being a servant means at the very core that we have no control – over any of those things; our choices are given to another, our environment and circumstances have nothing to do with our wishes or desires. It’s a scary thing to be a servant.
But. What if the one that is in control is completely safe, is the one that knows everything about our wishes, desires, needs, dreams, goals, and wants only the best for us? What if the one that is in control is only there because we chose to let Him be? As Christians, that is what we are called to do.
Romans 12:1 says, I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Paul asks us to present ourselves as living sacrifices. A sacrifice by definition means that every bit of your being is given over to another as a freely chosen gift. God freely gave us the gift of salvation through the blood of Christ, but He asks us for a gift as well – ourselves. Being a living sacrifice means that we are handing control over our lives – our choices, our circumstances, our futures – over to God. It is not simply a small prayer that you pray and think your eternity is secure – becoming a Christian and living a Christ-centered life is hard. It can be scary at first, because giving over control of our lives takes so much faith and trust that may not come very natural to most of us. But it is so worth it. I love the verse out of Revelation 19:11 that talks about Jesus at his second coming. John, the author of Revelation, sees Jesus riding on a white horse, and says that his name is Faithful and True. We can make the choice to hand over our entire lives to Him with confidence, with excitement, with hope for our futures, because he is faithful and he is true. We will never find another who loves us as much as he does, nor will we ever find one who is in control like He is. The truth about control for us is that it in itself is a lie. There are some things that we can control, but the truth is – life itself is out of our hands. We have no control over the choices of others that affect us, we have no control over any of the elements – hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, storms, death. Our lives are out of our hands. Instead of holding tight to that illusion, put your life into the hands of the only Sovereign One who does have control – our Creator. He will never let you down, and He will take you on an incredible adventure that you could never dream of. He will give you such peace and hope and joy and a life full of abundance. But. We have to give our lives to Him as a living sacrifice. And we do that by serving Him.
One way we serve God is by serving others. I have heard a definition of service that I love – it’s so simple, yet encompasses everything about service. It is that service in simply love in action. That’s it.
In Mark 12:29-31, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. He replies, ““The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
In this Scripture, Jesus is quoting the Shema out of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and then Leviticus 19:18. From Jesus, all the way back to Moses, this was God’s greatest commandment: that we love Him first and we love others second. You see, God has a huge love for all His children and Colossians 3:1 tells us to walk in the ways of Christ, to become more like Christ, to do the things Christ did.
God has great compassion on all of His children and as His people who are trying to become like Christ, it is our purpose to give our lives to uphold His cause. Therefore, when we look at Christ’s example, we see that we are called to reach out and help those who are in need like he did. In Matthew 10:7, Jesus tells his disciples to, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have been given, so freely you should give.” Jesus doesn’t say it any clearer than in
Matthew 20:26b-28 “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
We are called to put ourselves last, to serve with abandon. To love each one we meet and to show that love through action. When we show love and service to others, we are showing them that we see value in them just because they are a child of God; we are showing them that they are worth our efforts simply because God created them as a masterpiece, with purpose and intent. Our love through action validates that they are worthy of love. Is there anything more important than letting someone know that they are worthy of love and respect and that God loves them and created them purposefully? It is not easy, loving others, but we are not alone in this endeavor. The incredible thing is that God did not give us this monumental task of loving and serving everyone – even those that are crazy unlovable – without help.
1 Peter 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
The moment we ask God to be our Savior and invite Him to be Lord over our lives, the Holy Spirit rushes to live within us and empowers us with what Christians like to call “spiritual gifts.” There are so many different kinds of spiritual gifts, and each of us are given different, unique, and very specific ones so that we will be successful in carrying out the plans God has over our lives.
Romans 12:3-8 gives us a great picture of what this is supposed to look like:
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
God has given us specific gifts so that we can work together in harmony to edify, which means to build up, the kingdom of God; each person has their specific task. I love the analogy about the tapestry. When you look at one of the old tapestries with incredible murals, they are made with thousands of strings, yet each one is crucial to the overall picture. We, each specific person of the family of God, is like a crucial strand that makes up the tapestry of God’s kingdom. We each have a very specific role to play, whether it may seem inconsequential or not – it is crucial to the fulfillment of God’s plan.
What are your gifts, and where can you use them to build up others and edify the kingdom? If you do not know of your gifts, here is a website that can help you figure them out and find where you can offer your gifts in service:
The incredible thing about God is that we have two realms of service: within the church and wherever we are daily Your gifts may be used in the church in a very different way than they are with your family, friends or work/school. If your gift is encouragement, you can be an encourager of those in the faith or just to make someone smile when they’ve had a really crappy day. If you have a gift of organization, maybe you are one of the ones on the teams that help put together service projects at church and help organize work projects. Whatever your gift is – and each one of you have at least one if you have presented yourself as a living sacrifice to God – there is a desperate need for you to offer your gift in service to those around you. Your life was made with a very specific purpose in mind – it may take a while for God to let you know what it is. It took me until I was 28 years old to figure out what mine was – after I already had a very different career and a bachelors degree in something completely different. God knew I was not ready to know or fulfill His calling over my life until that moment, and so I had to wait and pray for over 6 years until He knew I was ready to hear it. God doesn’t work on our time – He alone knows when we are ready to fully submit our lives to Him. Continually seek His path for your life, and throw yourself into His service in the mean time. Just because you don’t know what God wants you to do with the rest of your life, doesn’t mean that He hasn’t given you something to do with your life right now. His calling over your life changes as the seasons of your life changes. He gives you challenges and opportunities as you are ready and open to them.
There is an old poem by Margaret Clarkson, which turned into a hymn, who’s words are so applicable to the challenge God’s lays before us in asking us to be living sacrifices for Him. Here are the words of So Send I You, let them sink into you and challenge you to live for Christ today and everyday hereafter:
So send I you to labour unrewarded
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing
So send I you to toil for Me alone
So send I you to bind the bruised and broken
Over wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake
To bear the burdens of a world a-weary
So send I you to suffer for My sake
So send I you to loneliness and longing
With hart a-hungering for tthe loved and known
Forsaking kin and kindred, friend and dear one
So send I you to know My love alone
So send I you to leave your life’s ambition
To die to dear desire, self-will resign
To labour long, and love where men revile you
So send I you to lose you life in Mine
So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred
To eyes made blind because they will not see
To spend, though it be blood to spend and spare not
So send I you to taste of Calvary
“As the Father hath sent me, so send I you”