Being a servant
What is the most important role for a Christian?
How important are you? Where do you rank yourself?
Everywhere we look, people have an invisible ranking system of importance, and this couldn’t be further from the truth of the Bible.
We also make the mistake of thinking that if someone has status and importance in our worldly ranking, they are more useful and valuable in the kingdom of God.
This is completely the opposite of what God views as important. God does not look at man’s perceived influence. But rather, God is looking for people with the right attitude and heart posture, who would lay down their own self-importance and self-image and serve the Lord.
Timothy was a young believer that served selflessly with the Apostle Paul. Having the heart of a servant is not something that happens as you hear a sermon or read a book on servanthood.
Becoming a commendable servant like Timothy takes time, daily submitting to the will of God and dying to your selfish desires. This is not reserved for specially “called” Christians, developing a servant heart is for all believers, it is the very process of becoming more like Christ.
In Philippians 2 verse 20, Paul commends Timothy to the church and praises his genuine caring attitude, because Paul had seen the testimony of Timothy lived out. Your testimony is your story, it is your personal encounter. However, your testimony is only as good as what other people confirm it to be by their observation of your lifestyle (See Proverbs 27:2 and 21).
Timothy was dedicated, trustworthy and dependable, Paul knew that because he had witnessed these character traits in Timothy.
Paul was genuinely concerned for the spiritual growth and strength of the churches that he had helped plant. He hadn’t been in Philippi for ten years and so he sent his best and most trusted assistant – Timothy.
Paul holds Timothy up as the example of purity and then he holds up the rest of the people in verse 21, “For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
One of the most prevalent and enslaving sins among Christians today is selfishness. Jesus taught that the most basic principle of living a happy and fruitful life is to live a life of self-sacrifice. Human nature is to ask, “what’s in it for me?” We are all tempted to place our own self-interests and ambitions ahead of God. But the tragedy is that this sin, of putting self first saps the life and joy out of being used by God.
The table below compares these two contrasting verses. Philippians 1:21 and Philippians 2:21
| Philippians 1:21, “for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
1. Heavenly living
2. In the Spirit
4. Consumed with Christ
5. Has much gain
6. Dead to self
7. Known by God, but not known by the world.
| Philippians 2:21, “for all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”
1. Earthly living
2. In the flesh
4. Consumed with self
5. Has much greed
6. Dead to Christ
7. Known by the world, but not by God.
Are you a “1:21” person or a “2:21” person?
Timothy had faithfully served behind the scenes and Paul recognized that it was time for him to be released into leadership. Paul knew that there was a discipleship process in raising up someone into a leadership position. This is true for any leadership position in the church and even in the secular workplace. Just because someone has the charisma to stand in front of a group of people, it does not mean that they are ready to be placed in leadership. Paul wrote this lesson to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:6-7 when talking about the qualifications of elders.
An eager young believer can go too far, too fast and end up hurting their testimony. Discipleship is like a tree growing roots, the deeper the roots, the wider the branches can spread. If you don’t give sufficient time for the roots to grow, and your branches begin to stretch out, your tree will topple over and the potential usefulness will be ended. Passion and zeal do not equate to readiness, humility is the key ingredient to growing deep roots in our spiritual lives.
There is a common saying often quoted which goes something like this,
“Your talent or your abilities will take you places your character can’t sustain you”
Jesus taught his disciples, allowing them to learn by his example, and only when they were ready, did the Father send the Holy Spirit to equip them to go out and change the world (see 2 Timothy 3:10-17).
This is a conversation we have been having a lot recently as leaders in the church. How are we raising up people? How are we raising leaders and people who represent Christ well?
Who are you discipling? Or who is discipling you?
As a Christian, how are you growing? Are you serving? Or are you chomping at the bit to be a leader? The world tells us that we are nobody unless we have a title or an office with our name on the door. But Jesus told us in Matthew 20:26-28 that the Kingdom of Heaven has the opposite viewpoint of importance.
Jesus gave up his position of glory to humble himself and die a cruel death on a cross, to provide a way for us to be reconciled to God the Father. Because of what Jesus did, God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every other name! (see Philippians 2:5-11).
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all called to be servants, serving the Lord not expecting recognition in the kingdom of God. We also should be Paul’s and Timothy’s to each other, discipling and being discipled. Who are you leading and encouraging to become more like Christ, and who are you walking alongside, learning from and growing as a Christian?
This is God’s design for a healthy church, we all serve as we all grow, always asking the Lord for His direction.
What area is God asking you to serve in today?