Thursday, June 12, 2014

Devoted Servant


 "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:5-7

In God's kingdom to be a servant is considered an honor. God gives us a great honor to serve our families and others even in the hardest of circumstances. Just as Jesus considered it a privilege to be called God's son and counted worthy to serve so we must learn from the mind of Jesus. Having a mind and heart of service sets us free. "Let this mind be in you..."

As Christians, having the heart of a servant is freedom. God knows that what really enslaves us is our own selfishness. Sometimes what causes great conflict is the ideas we hold onto, the attitudes that are caused by selfish hearts. If living a life of serving self is so freeing, why are so many unhappy? So many Christians are walking a path of unhappiness and strife. The true source of freedom, Christ, requires that we live for others. Living enslaved to self will never produce true freedom because "self" was never made to be worshiped and served. True service is worshiping God, serving Him and that produces a heart renewal to serve others.

"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life." Romans 6:22

God doesn't ask us to be slaves in the traditional way society thinks. When we are set free from sin (the real bondage) we are then led to be Jesus' servant, who died to set the captives free. The false idea prevails that if we die to self our life will be miserable and a life of drudgery. Yet God teaches us that death to self means no longer serving that which is not fruitful. Serving ourselves and our own interests cannot lead to life when we are not God, the true fountain of life. One can never be truly Jesus' servant, while continually serving ones self, the two cannot coexist. In each person an idol has to be toppled, and it is self and serving ones self. These two things, self and God, did not compete with each other in Jesus' heart. "For even Christ didn't live to please Himself..."Romans 15:3

"He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
    that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free..." Luke 4:18

Jesus is not only speaking of people who are only physically imprisoned, or visibly oppressed. He speaks of all who are in bondage to any sins and in bondage to the enemy. Anxieties, doubts, the past, and the darkness that can overtake the mind and heart. Jesus came to be the bondservant to release us and set us free. When we are set free from ourselves, God's freedom reigns. Jesus was truly free from Himself. He did not walk the walk of living for His own career, hobbies, materialism or His own "goals." Glorifying Himself in this earthly life was of no importance to Him. Truly, he was God's servant, the Holy One whose life was lived for God. In God's kingdom, He is exalted and sits at the right hand of the Father.

"When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven." Hebrews 1:3

Jesus taught that "Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” Mark 9:35

As hearts are molded into servants hearts, it produces humility and gentleness. This heart can see God, because it is no longer in bondage to itself. The heart's idols have been toppled. It is set free to serve Christ and truly get to know the One who was, is, and is to come. The one who is unchanged yesterday, today and forever. 

Today, there is bondage to so many things. Self image, working out our bodies to "look better" than others, our minds, our smarts, our educations, materialism, wealth, media, entertainment, houses, perfectionism, overly busy and active social lives, how much we "achieve" in the world's eyes,  our own hobbies---all these things that we think must take importance. And as we live in bondage to these things, we cannot find true life and freedom. These things enslave us to the world, Christ sets us free to have eternal life. These things enslave us when they are given an idolatrous place in our lives and we reduce God to less than He should be. God cannot be worshiped and truly known, when the focus of our hearts is on the worldly things. God's kingdom will reign forever and the things we lived enslaved to will pass away. Life will have been lived for that which is death to the soul, rather than that which is life to the soul.

In Lamentations God tells us what living under the yoke of the world will produce: “He wove my sins into ropes to hitch me to a yoke of captivity. The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies; I am helpless in their hands." Lamentations 1:14

Jesus tells us "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

We must be Christ's servants and live for that which will never pass away. Being a servant in God's kingdom is freedom. A willing heart that is able to set aside the yoke and habits of the world's temporary kingdom, to embrace the yoke of the eternal, is one that finds rest. The soul is no longer weary, but free to serve the One who is freedom.

Prayer: "Lord, show me the practical ways that I can live as your servant in my life right now. Show me how to do this in the every day things. Show me how to serve my family and others in freedom without thought to self. It is the small tasks that are the greatest to you. Show me how to cast off the slavery that I have been taught and clothe my heart and mind anew in the freedom you so freely give. Amen."

"The fire of God's love must burn up self love and self will and let the soul appear, beautiful and full of grace, as it was meant to be when God created us." ~St. Catherine of Siena 

"And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
-Philippians 2:8-11



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