Note from Jesus
Dear Servant of the Lord,
Yes, I have called you My sibling, My beloved, and My friend. I have even called you a child of the King of Glory and a child of your Father in heaven. Today, however, I call you a servant of the Lord. When Lord is used in your Bibles in all capital letters, the translators are referring to YHWH — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. YHWH is Our name in Hebrew and is sometimes translated as “I AM” in English Bibles (Exodus 3:14).
I could call you a bondservant or even a slave rather than simply a servant. These terms are tough ones and speak of hard service, but they indicate that I do want you committed to being a servant even when hardships are involved. Remember I demonstrated being a servant when I washed My disciples’ feet in the upper room (John 13:1-17) and in many other ways. My ultimate demonstration of being a servant was when I died for you on the cross.
To be a servant like I demonstrated in My birth, life, and death, you must serve willingly. My earliest servants were not forced to minister and sacrifice. I called them to follow Me. By grace, I invited them into the Father’s family. Each accepted his or her role as a servant voluntarily. Each saw the life I lived on earth and chose to follow Me. Each recognized My example and chose to serve others. (Of course, there were some who gave the appearance of following Me but actually rejected Me.)
I came to this world as a servant. I gave up heaven’s glory for mortality. I left heaven’s safety for human vulnerability. I stepped down from the throne of glory for the shame of a cross. I did it to serve the lost and also to serve you (Philippians 2:5-11). Those who led My followers after My ascension were also servants. They completely changed their lives. Many give up their lives in death because they followed Me to do My work in the world and serve lost humanity. Their lives were molded into the character and compassion of My life. Each of My apostles, except for the one who gave his heart to Satan (John 17:12), followed My example and was a sacrificial servant.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he had to defeat their false sense of self-importance. He had to confront their pride in believing that they had fully arrived spiritually. He had to help them understand that they had missed My greatness and had sunk into selfishness and worldly ambition. So after spending what now comprises three chapters in your Bibles trying to teach them that they had missed the mark on greatness, Paul then turned to examples. He pointed to his own life. He directed the Corinthians’ attention to the example of My original apostles. He reminded them of the example of his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. All of these lived for Me and for others, not for themselves — so much so that Paul could say:
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
(2 Corinthians 4:5 NIV)
Paul directed the Corinthians to think about the people in his examples because those people all had one thing in common: each of them was a servant. Paul held them up as examples because their lives were much more like My life than they were like the lives of the so-called “super-spirituals” who were causing problems in Corinth. The things these “super-spirituals” boasted about themselves were exactly opposite to the things they saw in Paul’s life, in Timothy’s life, in the apostles’ lives, and in My life. Since I AM the prime example of spirituality, it wasn’t Paul who was out of phase with greatness, but the prideful Corinthians!
As the Corinthians’ “father in the faith,” Paul wanted them to awaken from their arrogant stupor of pride. He wanted them to follow My example and the example of My emissaries. He wanted them to turn away from gratifying their own egos. You also need to recognize that greatness is not found in things that build your ego. Greatness is not found in status, wealth, a certain spiritual gift, high position, lofty titles, worldly prestige, or any earthly achievement.
Verses to Live
Since greatness is not found in human accolades, then where is true greatness found?
What are the qualities of greatness in My kingdom?
What does it really mean to be a servant?
Look at the list of things that were true of My emissaries (apostles) in the verses below. They faced these hardships out of love for Me. They risked their lives to share the Father’s grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit with those who were lost. This concerted effort is true greatness — greatness, as I repeatedly said and demonstrated in My earthly ministry, that is found in those who are willing to pay the price to serve others for Me!
Rather than power brokers, think of us as servants of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, caretakers of the mysteries of God. Because we are in this particular role, it is especially important that we are people of fidelity and integrity. It makes little difference to me how you or any human court passes judgment on me. I even resist the temptation to compare myself to the ever-changing human standard. Although I am not aware of any flaw that might exclude me from this divine service, that’s not the reason I stand acquitted — the only supreme judge, our Lord, will examine me in the proper time.
So resist the temptation to act as judges before all the evidence is in. When the Lord comes, He will draw our buried motives, thoughts, and deeds (even things we don’t know or admit to ourselves) out of the dark shadows of our hearts into His light. When this happens, the voice of God will speak to each of us the only praise that will ever matter.
Right now, brothers and sisters, the best thing I can do for you is to apply these principles to the situation with Apollos and me. Maybe we can show you the meaning of the saying, “not beyond the things written.” If you learn that, perhaps none of you will swell with pride because you fall into the seductive trap of pitting one against the other. Is there any reason to consider yourselves better than others? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If you received it as a gift, why do you boast like it is something you achieved on your own.
Now let’s see if I have it straight. You suppose that you already have all you need. You already are rich and prosperous. And without us you’ve already begun to reign like kings. To be honest, I wish you did reign so that we could reign with you because it seems to me that God has put His emissaries [apostles] at the end of the line, like convicts in their final walk to certain death. We have become a spectacle to the rest of the world — to all people and heaven’s messengers. We are nothing but fools for the cause of the Anointed One while you are wise in Him. Am I right?
We are feeble and tired while you are mighty and full of life. You are well respected by others while we’re treated as contemptuous creatures by pretty much everyone everywhere. Up to this very minute, we are famished, we are thirsty, and our clothes are shabby, practically rotted to pieces. We are homeless, hapless wanderers. But still we labor, working with our hands to meet our needs because, despite all of this, when a fist is raised against us, we respond with a blessing; when we face violence and persecution, we stay on mission; and when others choose taunts and slander against us, we speak words of encouragement and reconciliation. We’re treated as the scum of the earth — and I am not talking in the past tense; I mean today! We’re the scraps of society, nothing more than the foulest human rubbish.
I am not telling you all this so that you’ll feel guilty or be ashamed of how you have acted. I am only trying to warn you, just as a father would warn his children. You may have 10,000 instructors in the faith of the Anointed One, but you have only one father. In Jesus the Anointed I have become your father through my efforts in spreading the good news.
So as your father in the faith, I want to encourage you to live as I have lived. Imitate my life. This is one of the reasons I sent Timothy to be with you. He is my dearly loved and faithful child in the Lord. His mission is to remind you of the way I experience life in the Anointed. In all the churches everywhere I go, I teach the same lessons the same way, and I live out those lessons.
But the reality is, some of you have put yourselves on pedestals and live like you are high above the rest — it’s as if you assumed I would not return to confront your misguided pride. But I am coming. Lord willing, I will be with you soon. Then I will know what power is backing those arrogant folks and their words. The kingdom of God is not a realm of grandiose talk; it is a realm of power. So tell me what you want. Should I visit you, rod in hand ready to discipline a crew of self-important people; or should I embrace you, love you, and gently teach you as we celebrate the blessings of God together?
(1 Corinthians 4:1-21)
Response in Prayer
O Father in heaven, forgive me for wanting to be recognized as important. Forgive me for not entrusting my value to You. Forgive me for running after the same vain sense of importance as others in the world are chasing. I see how hollow their achievements ultimately prove to be at fulfilling them. Holy Spirit, convict me and help me value those who serve the Lord Jesus with all that they are and do and say. I want to be a willing servant. I want to follow in the footsteps of the apostles, Paul, and Timothy. Most of all, Lord Jesus, I want to follow Your example of loving and selfless service. Lord Jesus, make me a servant. Please make me like You! Amen.
Today and over many months, our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria, and many other places in the Middle East and Africa have had to make the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. They have been servants to the end. Some have been crucified. Some have seen their children beheaded before they were martyred. Many others have had their earthly livelihoods destroyed. Please take the time to go to Voice of the Martyrs and learn more about their plight and pray about ways you can help. Please also remember our translators in the Middle East who serve to make our resource Verse of the Day available in Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi, at the risk of their lives. Thank you!
Phil Ware and the Heartlight.org, VerseoftheDay.com, and aYearwithJesus.com team.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.