Take a look at the title of this blog post episode again.
Daughter of the King.
She’s a Servant.
Does that almost seem like a contradiction to you?
It’s taken the vast majority of my life to grasp this. I can blame culture if I want to–for teaching me that self-love and putting myself first is the key to the good life. But honestly, I figured that out on my own.
I see it in myself every day. The dogs need to go out, but my sister can do it. I’m too tired.
The garbage is full in the kitchen, and there are lots of dishes, but I’d rather stay on the couch or finish reading an article.
It would bless my mom to vacuum so that I’m done before she gets home…but then again, I’m happy texting right now.
That girl looks new at church, but I really just want to be with my friends.
I see a pattern here, don’t you?
Me, me, me, and a whole lot of me.
And a whole lot of opportunities to serve God and others ignored.
Right now, I’m going through the book of John. I’ve learned so much about Jesus’ character: His love and the way He serves.
In John 13, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. This was absolutely crazy. Back in those days, their sandal-clad feet were covered in filth, and this job was usually left for slaves if you had them. Yet the very Son of God washed twenty-four smelly, dirt-caked feet.
Jesus said to them, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).
Jesus showed them what true, sacrificial love looked like, and told them to imitate Him.
I love what He says next in verse 16:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”
This seems like a “duh” at first. But really think about it. Jesus is our Master, and we’re His servants. Jesus Christ–God Himself–humbly served His disciples by doing something even a Jewish servant wouldn’t do, and yet I often have a hard time humbling myself to clean the bathroom.
That’s a punch to the gut of my sinful, self-loving pride.
the key to serving (and loving)
There’s a quote that says, “If you don’t love yourself, nobody will. Not only that, you won’t be good at loving anyone else. Loving starts with the self.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? But that’s not real love.
What’s so cool about John 13 is that it starts with Jesus’ love. In the first verse it talks about how as Jesus anticipated His death, resurrection, and ascension, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” He displayed this incredible, deep, supernatural, life-changing love by washing their feet–a lowly and despised job. And then what does he say?
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (vv. 34-35)
This love doesn’t start with loving self. It starts with loving God–Who loved us first, even though we don’t deserve it.
the beauty of serving & loving
In a very powerful and convicting sermon, Pastor John Piper from Desiring God talks about how our love for serving others the way Jesus loved is only possible because we’ve received God’s love through Christ. Only because of the Holy Spirit within us–Who’s given us a new nature–can we truly love others.
This is part of my testimony. Even though I knew I should put others before myself, I didn’t care that much. Honoring my parents seemed good when it benefited me, but not otherwise. Depending on my sister to pick up my slack was the default mode of operation in my heart.
And then when Jesus grabbed a hold of me, and I became His daughter, He actually gave me the desire to serve Him through loving and serving others. When I don’t honor my parents, it grieves me because ultimately I’ve sinned against God and His good command for me to respect them and honor Him.
I’ll be honest. Serving is an area I need to majorly grow in. I don’t serve others and put them first nearly as much as I should.
Serving can be as simple as doing chores. Often the most mundane things we can do are the best things we can do, because they teach us humility and discipline for bigger things. Serving can be really fun–especially if you can serve your church or youth ministry through music or photography or outreach, or whatever passions you may have. But sometimes serving feels unnatural and not exactly “fun” since it puts ourselves in last place.
Sometimes we’ll feel like serving, and sometimes we won’t. Just like sometimes we’ll feel like loving our siblings, but other times we won’t. Does that mean we shouldn’t? Of course not. True love sacrifices and serves, even when it isn’t rewarding, pretty, or easy.
Jesus says that people will know us by our love. The way we love and serve shares the Gospel (which we’ll talk more about next week). When people see how we put others before ourselves–even if they don’t agree with all that we believe or stand for–that is a powerful witness.
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
I needed this reminder. I have to remember this. To serve is to love. And to love is to serve.
In the body of Christ, this ever-giving cycle provides, comforts, encourages, and cheers us on to rest in God and in His love for us…and to love others through our selfless actions that point to Jesus Christ, as daughters of the King of kings.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Philippians 2:3-8
I’d love to hear from you!
- Do you struggle with serving?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses in serving God and others?
- How can you be prepared to fight against the opposition of your flesh when it comes to serving? Pick a verse or passage (such as John 13 or Philippians 2:3-8) to remind you of the beauty and privilege of serving with genuine love. Feel free to share in the comments below!
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