Spiritual Disciplines // GRATITUDE AND SERVICE
This Sunday, Pastor Isaac illuminated the plight of Nehemiah. He had a HUGE task that he would undertake while leaving the luxury of the palace. As the Chief Cupbearer he held lots of power and prestige – this would be set aside to serve the cause of his people. Roughly 500 years later Jesus would model this type of ministry. Like Nehemiah, he would walk out his calling as what Isaiah would describe as the “Suffering Servant.”
This is why the account of Nehemiah and certainly Jesus can come across as so striking; we walk in a hierarchy that requires us to jockey for position, favor, and status. It isn’t hard to witness this in your workplace, sports teams, schools, etc.: men and women trying to figure out their place in the world. But Jesus would set a different expectation for how we would relate to one another.
20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked.
She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But 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. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 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.”Matthew 20:20–28 (NLT)
The rulers of our day are not much different – lording their power and authority over others. It shows up in even the smallest amount of power. Everyone has a story of an HOA board member letting power get their his or her head. We are prone to the prideful bloat of authority. How can we combat our own propensity to grasp for power and authority for our own gain?
26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 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.”Matthew 20:26-28, NLT
Jesus gave us the perfect example of how to truly lead – that is to serve. Richard Foster in his book, The Celebration of Discipline says,
“Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness. The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh, we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh, we crucify our pride and arrogance.“Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline
The subversive act of service puts a dagger in our flesh that LONGS for authority and prides itself in power. Today we are going to perform an act of service that no one else will know about. This is the key to the act of service – that we not seek recognition for God’s kindness expressed through us. Here is how we will participate with the discipline of service:
- Pick someone to serve today. Humbly perform an act of hidden service for someone else. Buy their lunch, pick up their workspace, file their papers.
- Take some time to process how this felt. Did you feel alive serving others? Did you find it difficult? Ask God to give you fresh revelation about the current state of your heart as it relates to serving.
Consider your long term commitment to serving. Our Food Pantry is a wonderful community to serve with. 1,000’s of people are served every month with fresh food feeding not only their bellies, but their sense of worth and value. Contact our Food Pantry by emailing Pastor Trish Bliss at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.