This year I am studying the book of Romans every Tuesday night with a group of men from my church (we call ourselves the BRomans).
At first, choosing Romans disappointed me because I just studied Romans this summer, but now it excites me. I’m excited for a deeper grasp on the beautiful facets of the gospel mentioned in Romans including human inability to make ourselves right with God, justification by faith, union with Christ, life in the Spirit, election, living in response to the Gospel, and growing in Christian maturity.
Our first week we spent much of our time highlighting one seven-letter word the first verse of Romans: servant.
The idea of servanthood is counter-cultural. The American culture worships autonomy. We love to be self-sufficient, make our own decisions, be our own persons, and we HATE it when people tell us what to do. Frank Sinatra’s song “My Way” is an anthem proclaiming the values of many our culture today. While it may be the anthem for many in our culture, it isn’t the anthem for the Christian–we are servants.
How can we grow in our thinking as servants?
Here are a few questions relating to being a servant of Jesus Christ that I have been challenged to ask myself daily in light of the insights (and convictions) gleaned from our discussion:
1. Am I a servant of Jesus Christ or do I make Jesus my servant?
So often instead of serving Christ, I seek to make Him my servant. Instead of my prayers focusing on asking God what I can do for Him, I focus only on what He can do for me. When I try and make God my servant, I focus on myself, my wants, my needs, and my problems.
God isn’t my servant! God isn’t your servant! He is God–the One who created each one of us and has rights as Creator on our very existence. We are not our own, we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Let’s take our eyes off of ourselves and lift them up to joyfully serve our Master.
2. Is being a servant of Jesus Christ at the core of who I consider myself?
Paul started Romans, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1). Paul at his core was a servant–and so are we if Christ has redeemed us. When we describe our identities, we may sound like many Twitter profiles listing relationships (husband, brother, father, etc), favorite sport teams, political affiliations, our our favorite foods. There is nothing wrong with a profile like that, but we can’t let those descriptors fuel or core identity. Our hearts should instinctively say, “I love Jesus and am at my core His servant!”
Make it your goal to wake up every morning asking your Master, “How can I best serve You today?”
3. Do I realize that being a servant is the way to greatness?
Many people want to do great things for God, but fewer people want to do mundane things for God. The fact is, servants are often called to the mundane–boring work that nobody wants to do. Being a servant is not glamorous–in a worldly sense. Jesus told James and John that the way to greatness was through servanthood. “…Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26). We are to be of the same mind of Jesus who,
“…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 2:7-8).
Christ is the ultimate servant who stripped himself of His Divine privileges and laid down His life to take our sins upon Himself and reconcile us to God. It is only through the Ultimate servant that we can serve God, which leads to the next question.
4. Knowing what Christ has done for me, how can I be anything other than a faithful servant?
The natural outflow of understanding God’s grace towards us in Christ is to, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). Knowing God’s grace in a deep, experiential way, will transform us to godliness and good works and forge servanthood into a core identity (Titus 2:11-14). Jesus’ apostles had the greatest view of God’s mercy toward us because they saw the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The majority of them gave their lives for the sake of serving Christ.
Meditate on the grace of Christ shown to us on the cross and recognize that He has freed you from your slavery to sin and enabled you to live in a way that pleases Him. You serve a new Master. Sin is no longer your master, but now your enemy. God is no longer your enemy, but now your Master–a Master more loving and gracious than we could ever imagine. Serve Him joyfully.
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5. Do I value my Master’s Word?
Lazy servants don’t care about their master’s commands. They care about their own comfort and doing the least amount of work as possible, and don’t pay careful attention to what their masters ask of them. Don’t let that describe your service to God. We need to be men and women dedicated to our Master’s Word, knowing that it is the Master’s training manual for godly living and service:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Word is our training manual to be servants of Christ. Without the Word, it would be like running a marathon after we have starved ourselves. We would not race effectively and would pass out due to exhaustion because we lack the fuel our bodies need. Servants of Christ need the spiritual sustenance provided to us in the Word for energy, training in righteousness, and equipping for good works of service.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
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Since our identity in Christ transforms us from slaves of sin to servants of Christ, we should no longer ask God, “What can you do for me?”but rather ask, “What can I do for you my Lord?”
I’ve already mentioned that Frank Sinatra’s song boasting, “I Did It Myyyyyyyyy Way!” is woefully inadequate for the Christian. Let me close with a song that captures the heart cry of a servant: Look What You’ve Done by Tree63 (listen below).
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