"If you want to be first, you must be everyone’s slave" Mark 10:44
A.W. Tozer: It would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it “life” and “self,” or as we would say, the self-life. Its chief characteristic is its possessiveness; the words gain and profit suggest this. To allow this enemy to live is, in the end, to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for Christ’s sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal. And possibly also a hint is given here as to the only effective way to destroy this foe: It is by the cross. “Let him take up his cross, and follow me” ~Matthew 16:24
There is an old saying aimed at a strong willed, take-control person that goes like this: “Subtlety is not his strong suit!” which means they are anything but subtle. In the Christian realm, we may be forced to say, “Servanthood is not our strong suit!”
Growing up we are encouraged to find our career, determine what we want to be, focus on your desires and work to bring them into reality. We admire the person who came from an ordinary income life and worked hard to accumulate wealth and power. Christianity is not exempt…we flock to conferences to hear special speakers or singers, paying millions of dollars annually to further elevate their status as “celebrities.” Surely if Jesus were among us today He could command countless millions of dollars in product endorsements, books, speeches and website sales. He would be FAMOUS!
There is one fatal flaw to our fawning over famous, influential people; a slight bump in the otherwise smooth highway to idolizing people–God forbids it and warns of the heretical consequences to admiring (worshiping) anyone other than God. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).
No other gods…like money, power, fame, education, degrees, talents, and our own accomplishments. We may not outright reject God in favor of our wealth and financial security but we certainly strongly admire them. You may be thinking smugly, “I have no fame or untold wealth so I’m doing fine. God and I have a good relationship. He’s given me gifts that I use for the church which proves I’m just fine.
Shining His light into those hidden “self” corners of my life reveals my desire for accolades, assurance of my importance, self-satisfaction of my Christian standing and an impressive list of financial contributions (tax exempt of course). Is there something about being a servant in the list of accomplishments?
A missionary was talking to a group of Christians who indicated their interest in serving God as missionaries. After sharing various stories of challenge and deprivation he asked two questions: “How many of you would sign up to move to a small village in a remote area of the world, living as the natives do, helping them as you share the Gospel? Please raise your hands.” Every hand enthusiastically raised! Then he asked, “Now, how many would be willing to move to that village and spend the rest of your life there if no one else knew?” Instead of hands shooting into the air, there was shock and silence. God had shined His light to expose their secret, self-serving desires. Not evil in our way of thinking but mostly selfish. In an instant the group went from servants to self-serving. They knew that recognition was an important part of their desire. There were tears.
Mark 10:42-45 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Does this description sound like Christian celebrities which includes famous pastors and teachers who travel the world, have mega-churches and millions in book revenues? Clearly it seems not. Maybe we should get together and run them out of town! But first let’s get the giant Sequoia log out of our own eye and ask this question: Does this section of Scripture sound like me? Sudden silence as His light illuminates our hidden desires.
Matthew 23:11-12 The only ‘superior’ among you is the one who serves the others. For every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion.
While in college a young man found Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was enthused about newly discovered eternal life and wanted to leave school to go everywhere sharing the Gospel. God said, “Stay and get your degree.” Reluctantly he obeyed. On graduation day he prayed, “Ok, Lord, now where can I go to serve you?” God replied, “Get your master’s degree.” After wrestling with disappointment he remained in school and graduated two years later with a Master’s Degree.
“Now where can I go spread the gospel, Lord?” he asked. God’s reply was, “I want you to get your PhD!” He was crushed and disappointed but still wanted to follow God’s leading. Back to school for three years until he graduated with a PhD. Having no idea why God wanted him armed with this highest degree, he soon found an opening as Athletic Director in an Oregon college.
“Then I understood why God wanted me to take that path,” he said. “In our weekly meetings many of the professors would share their frustration with student attitudes and problems. They had no idea how to help. It was then that I would stand and say, as department head, “The only sure answer is Jesus Christ!” This was met with surprise, shock and condescension. My stand also shined the light on other Christians who found themselves forced to agree, taking their stand as well.
“My PhD enabled me to become a servant.”