Being a servant focused Christian

April 15, 2018

Summary

The title of my message today is “Being a servant focused Christian”. It is the sixth message in the Kingdom Focused Church series we have been doing this year.

As Christians it is important for us to see ourselves as God’s servants. One definition of being a servant is this. “A servant is a person who works for the comfort or protection of others. Jesus described Himself as a servant. He instructed His followers to be servants of each other rather than trying to have authority over each other”.

Three of my favourite quotes on servant-hood come from Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr and Thomas Merton.

Mother Teresa said this about serving God – “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”

Martin Luther King, Jr, a man used mightily in the last century prayed, “Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”

Thomas Merton the Catholic Monk said this about serving and finding God’s will, “For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.”

These quotes are from people who loved God, served Him from a place of love, wanted to give God their all and fulfill God’s destiny for them.

Part A – What the Bible says about being a servant

It is good to hear what other Christians say about serving God and being a servant. It can inspire us to greater things, especially if they lived out what they said in the quotes. However, as Christians we are people of the Book, so we need to pay more attention to what God says in the Bible.

Point 1 – We were created for good works

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

In my world day of prayer message, I shared this verse. I thought I would share it again for those who weren’t here. In Ephesians 2:10 it tells us two great truths. Firstly, you are God’s masterpiece. God didn’t just slap you together quickly. You are His masterpiece. Like the world considers the Statue of David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel a masterpiece, God considers you a masterpiece that He knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 119:13).

The second great truth is that God made you with a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says God made you a masterpiece, He created you anew in Christ Jesus, and He has a wonderful purpose He planned for you long ago. Imagine God having you on His mind before the foundation of the world. You are not here by chance. You are here with a good purpose to make an amazing difference in this world. Each one of us here is called, gifted and sent out to make a difference. You are good, and your purpose is good. Because both were created by God.

Point 2 – We need to serve God with all of our heart

Colossians 3:23-24 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

A number of years ago I watched an English show on the ACB called “The People Watchers”. It is about a team of psychologists who set up different situations and observe people as they do them. Afterwards they reveal their experiment to the people and ask questions on how they felt.

In the recent episode they asked two groups of three people to pick up rubbish in an inner-city park at lunchtime. Lots of people were sitting around eating their lunch while the people worked. The first group picked up rubbish for 30 minutes. They were paid nothing as they were asked as volunteers. The second group did the same job but were paid 10 pounds to do it.

Afterwards they spoke to each group and the results were surprising. The volunteer group rated the work 8 or 9 on an enjoyment scale and said they felt they were helping the community by making the park nicer for visitors. The paid group rated the experience as a 1 or 2 for enjoyment and would not do it again.

I found this an interesting experiment as the volunteers thought they were helping and giving back to society. While the paid group could only focus on what a horrible job it was and couldn’t wait to get out of there. It was the same job, but the way they viewed it was totally different!

As I watched I thought of Colossians 3:23-24. It says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”.

I believe this Scripture is the key to real enjoyment and satisfaction in our jobs (both paid and volunteer). When we have the attitude that all we do is for the Lord, then we will serve wholeheartedly and get a lot more satisfaction out of all we do…whether we see it as a “good” or “bad” job at the time. Let us serve God with all of our hearts.

Point 3 – The secret to greatness is servant-hood

Mark 10:43-44 – Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

Jesus came to be a servant. He gave His life as a ransom for many. It was the Father’s will to save us through His Son. And Jesus took on that servant role. For us now it is important that we see ourselves as God’s servants. We serve God by serving others. When I am at home looking after my family, I see myself as a servant. When I am at work at the hospital ordering medical supplies, I see myself as a servant. When I am at church working amoungst you, I see myself as a servant. It doesn’t matter if we are talking after church, if I am preaching a sermon, if I am washing the dishes after Bible study, I am a servant.

The life of Jesus is our model to follow. Jesus is our example. His life is our blue print. Servant hood is what He wants and expects from us.

Philippians 2:6-7 reminds us that, “[Jesus] 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”. This is all the inspiration I need to be a humble servant!

Point 4 – We all rely on each other so we all have a part to play

Romans 12:4-5 – Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

A key area of being a servant is remembering we all have a part to play. Like the service today, some played music, some greeted, some set up the kitchen, some spoke up the front, some were helpers. Some had a week off to enjoy the service. We are all members of this church and we are all members of the wider body of Christ. And as the last line says, we all belong to each other. It is vitally important for us to remember we all have a part to play. One of my Pastor’s used to say, “Church or Christianity is not a spectator sport. We all need to be involved. Being a spectator as a Christian would be like being part of a team, and asking your coach to not put you in the game. You would just sit on the bench all the time”.

Point 5 – We should use our gifts and talents to serve on another

1 Peter 4:10 – Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

The Bible says each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others. That means if we are gifted or good at something we should think of ways to use that gift to help others and make their lives better. For some of us here, our gifts just flow out of us naturally, we don’t have to think too much about it. For some us of it is a matter of a burden on our hearts and we serve in an area. For others it is something we see with our eyes that needs doing and we just do it. For others again, it is a response to prayer and God’s prompting. Regardless of how we come to use our gifts, we need to remember it is about serving God, by serving others.

Galatians 6:10 reminds us, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”. I really love this verse. It says as we have the opportunity to serve, let us do it. We know there is opportunities to serve all around us. There are so many good things we can do to make a difference. I like that this verse tells us to do good to all people, but especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Part B – The crowns mentioned in the Bible as rewards for service

The Five Crowns, also known as the Five Heavenly Crowns, is a concept in Christian theology that talks about the five crowns that individuals can receive after the Last Judgment.

In the Greek language, stephanos is the word for crown and is translated as such in the Bible, especially in versions descending from the King James Version. These five rewards can be earned by believers, according to the New Testament, as “rewards for faithfulness in this life”.

Crown of Life

James 1:12 – God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

Revelation 2:10 – Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.

The Crown of Life is referred to in James 1:12 & Revelation 2:10; it is bestowed upon “those who persevere under trials.” Jesus references this crown when he tells the Church in Smyrna to “not be afraid of what you are about to suffer…Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Incorruptible Crown

1 Corinthians 9:25 – All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

In the KJV it calls this prize the “Incorruptible Crown”. It is also known as the Imperishable Crown. This epistle, written by the Apostle Paul, deems this crown “imperishable” in order “to contrast it with the temporal awards Paul’s contemporaries pursued”. It is therefore given to those individuals who demonstrate “self-denial and perseverance”.

Crown of Righteousness

2 Timothy 4:8 – And now the prize awaits me–the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.

The Crown of Righteousness is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8 and is promised to “those who love and anticipate” the Second Coming of Christ. These Christians desire intimacy with God.

Crown of Glory

1 Peter 5:4 – And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

The Crown of Glory is discussed in 1 Peter 5:4 and is granted to Christian clergy, who “shepherd the flock in unselfish love being a good example to others” 1 Peter 5:2-3

Crown of Exultation/Rejoicing

1 Thessalonians 2:19 – After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown [of rejoicing – KJV] as we stand before our Lord Jesus when He returns? It is you!

Philippians 4:1 – Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

The Crown of Exultation is also known as the Crown of Rejoicing. Talked about in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and Philippians 4:1, it is given to people who engage in evangelism of those outside the Christian Church. In the New Testament, Paul earns this crown after winning the Thessalonians to faith in Jesus.

So, we will be rewarded for our service in this life. Everything we do for God will be added to our account. Now I must admit, generally I am not motivated by rewards, I serve God out of my love for Him and my desire to please Him. But on the days when it is hard, it helps me to know that God sees my efforts and He will reward me.

Closing summary

Today we looked at the idea of being a servant focused Christian. We saw some quotes from famous Christians, we looked at what the Bible said about serving and we finished with the crowns awarded for faithful service.

  1. We were created for good works – Ephesians 2:10
  2. We need to serve God with all of our hearts – Colossians 3:23-24
  3. We need to see the secret to greatness is servant-hood – Mark 10:43-44
  4. We all rely on each other so we all have a part to play – Romans 12:4-5
  5. We should use our gifts and talents to serve one another – 1 Peter 4:10

We also looked at the five crowns for service – the crown of life, the incorruptible crown, the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory and the crown of exultation or rejoicing.

Amen.