February 1 The Greatest Among You Shall Be Your Servant

“But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”

(Matt. 23:11-12)

The great violinist, Niccolo Paganini willed his marvelous violin to the city of Genoa on condition that it must never be played. The wood of such an instrument, while used and handled, wears only slightly, but set aside, it begins to decay. Paganini’s lovely violin has today become worm-eaten and useless except as a relic. A Christian’s unwillingness to serve may soon destroy his capacity for usefulness.  Having a servant’s heart isn’t optional, it is mandatory if a Christian doesn’t want to destroy his/her capacity for usefulness as Paganini’s violin.

In our text we learn that the revolutionary character of the kingdom of heaven is seen in the fact that true greatness is exactly opposite to what people suppose.  Some suppose that greatness is to be found in self-promotion; others look for titles and degrees, seeking the world’s stamp of approval; and others seek to find advancement or greatness by pulling strings as James and John when they used their mother to ask for special positions of power for them (Matt. 20:20-28).  True greatness is not to be found in such things.  According to the Scriptures true greatness stoops to serve.  The cost of true greatness is humble, selfless, sacrificial service.

The word serve “douleuro” is translated “to be a slave.  Paul is described as a “slave.”  “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1).  The word “bondservant” comes from the Greek word, “doulos” meaning “one who is subservient to, and entirely at the disposal of his master; a slave.”  Jesus taught that the greatest in God’s kingdom would have to become “the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).  Such a concept was unthinkable to a Roman citizen, who prided himself in his freedom and would never identify himself as a bondservant.  But throughout the New Testament this term is applied to someone devoted to Jesus.  As a slave of Jesus Christ we renounce other masters and give ourselves totally to Jesus (Matt. 6:24; 16:24).

In writing about our service to Jesus Christ Paul wrote, “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:22-24).  H. A. Ironside said, “The new aspect about the Christian ethic and personal relationships is that all relationships are in the Lord.  The whole of the Christian life is lived in Christ.  In any home the tone of personal relationships must be dictated by the awareness that Jesus Christ is an unseen but ever-present quest.  In any parent-child relationship the dominating thought must be the Fatherhood of God; and we must try to treat our children as God treats His sons and daughters.  The thing which settles any master and servant relationship is that both are servants of the one Master, Jesus Christ.”  The point that we need to realize and apply to every moment of our lives and in every relationship is that everything should be done as though we are doing it unto the Lord for we are His servants and this is pleasing to Him.  This will be our topic for February and we hope you look forward to these studies.

Guy Roberson

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