Not… to be served, but to serve
Matthew 20:28 Do you have a servant’s heart? A personal testimonial of how to gain joy in your life
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:28 NASB1995
Today’s verse is from Matthew, just after the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John) asks Jesus if He will have her sons on either side of Him when He comes into His kingdom… Jesus asks if they are willing to drink the cup (bear the sacrifice) that He will soon be drinking, and also responds that it’s not His decision as to who sits to His left or right, but His Father’s decision.
There is kind of a tense situation at that point, with the other ten disciples rightly indignant with James, John, and most likely their mother, for having even brought up such a question. It’s at this point that Jesus gathers all the disciples to Him, and reminds them that “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;” (Matthew 20:26-27), followed immediately by today’s verse.
When the Holy Spirit pointed me in the direction of this verse today, it reminded me of one of the major changes He made in my life when I began following Christ in earnest. During a lot of my life prior to that point, I had two goals in life — having power over other people through a position in management, and having those people do work at my command. Perhaps that’s why I was so miserable and anxiety-ridden for most of my business life, until I began to realize that serving others was the most important thing — not “to be served, but to serve”.
Upon quitting my high-pressure tech job and going to work as a consultant, I began to see that working for others was much more rewarding. In my consultant gigs, I gained satisfaction and joy from bringing the dreams of my business clients to life for them. Around the same time, Barb and I found that our respective elderly parents needed more attention, and I was able to help out with taking them to appointments, resolving problems, and just being there when they needed me since I was no longer stuck in an office.
Working from home also let me take on some more “domestic” chores like cooking and cleaning so that Barb — who was the primary breadwinner in the family at that point — could depressurize after her stressful work days. I especially found cooking to be a joy, and I still love doing it.
When we began going back to church again in the mid 00’s, both of us were compelled to serve in some way. We both served as ushers and wrote service “process manuals” that are probably still in use at that church. I sang in the praise band for a time, and eventually became assisting minister. I am certain that it was the Holy Spirit bidding us to exercise our servant hearts!
Since retirement, we both find ourselves very busy! Barb is the historian for her former company’s retiree group, I’m the webmaster for their website. We both write this devotional in a sincere hope that we (and our wonderful readers) understand more of God’s Word each day. We are on our church’s intercessory prayer team. There are also things that I do behind the scenes that only one or two people are aware of, so I’m not doing this to gain compliments from others.
I recently added employment as part-time instructor at our soon-to-open senior center, giving me even more opportunity to serve. Barb’s concerned that I am going to overextend myself, but (and you’ll read in her devotional on Friday about this Fruit of the Spirit) I find joy in serving others.
Not everyone finds their joy serving in the ways we do. That’s why there are many gifts that have been given to us by God! As Peter said in 1 Peter 4:10 “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Ask God to show you your special gift, cultivate it, and then use it for His glory!
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I praise and thank You for Jesus, my Savior and Servant King. Each day, may I pour out my life as an offering to You, serving You joyfully and without complaint so that my service may bless others around me. Through my service, may I be a witness to bring others to the knowledge of salvation in Jesus. In His Name I pray, AMEN.