Monday, November 19, 2012

Choosing to Serve

James, a bondservant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:  Greetings.
James 1:1  (NKJ)

James could have bragged about a couple things in this verse.  It could have easily read James, the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ or it could have even read James, the main leader of the church in Jerusalem.  However, James humbly declared himself, "James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ."

James understood the meaning of bondservant.  He learned what a bondservant was from Exodus 21:16.  It was someone who, compelled by love, chose to serve their master for life.  A servant's ear was pierced as a sign of the binding commitment he made to his master.  In his life time, James probably knew of people who chose to lay down their rights of freedom to become a bondservant to his or her master.

James also learned what a bondservant was from the example set by his half-brother, Jesus.  In His own words Jesus stated, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many."  There are numerous biblical examples of how Jesus laid down His life to serve others, culminating with the greatest sacrifice of all...the price of His life for our freedom.  James, once free and motivated by love, chose to have his heart pierced in life-time service to his Lord Jesus Christ.

There are times when I do everything possible to have my service for the Lord noticed.  It's not wrong to want to be appreciated for my service to the Lord; however, if words of praise are my motivation then my service will be wanting and filled with dissatisfaction.  If I serve my Lord because, like James, my heart is pierced by Jesus Christ and I desire to make a binding commitment to Him, I will find peace and satisfaction no matter in what capacity He calls me to serve.

To be honest, sometimes my American mindset causes me to look at others with the prospect of what they can do for me and not necessarily what I can do for them.  In the footnote of my NKJ Bible* it states, "The measure for success for children of God is not in how we rule, but in how we serve."

Application of God's Word:

1.  If you were to write an epistle to the Church, how would you describe yourself in your opening statement?

2.  What is your motive in serving others?

3.  Read Mark 10:42-45.

*Jack Hayford's The Spirit Filled Life Bible  (NKJ)

Personal Matters:

I know someone who served on a cruise ship for nine months.  She said as far as the cruise employees were concerned that having to serve Americans on a cruise was like drawing the short straw.  No one wanted to work the American cruises because of the unreasonable demands placed on the employees.  It's true they were there to serve, but many were treated more like slaves by the customers than like employees.  At times, more often than I like to admit, my American mindset convinces me that I am superior, that I'm owed something and it's someone else's duty to fulfill my needs on demand.  The truth is, it's not always about me - sometimes its about God and others.  My selfishness has a tendency to blind me to the needs of others and serving them is the farthest thing from my mind.  President Kennedy famously stated, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."  I suppose this could be paraphrased just a bit..."Ask not what God can do for you - ask what you can do for God."  God isn't done with me where this topic is concerned...I'm thinking He wants me to hang here for awhile and take a closer look as to what it means to be a bondservant.  Sigh.  I have a lot of "dying to self" to do yet.  How about you?

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