Love gives without expecting in return. This can be challenging because it does not come naturally to us. We are not naturally selfless. We are, by nature: selfish, self-driven, self-obsessed, self-promoting, and self-prioritized human beings that could stand a good and hearty lesson on love and selflessness. Followers of Christ are to be imitators of Him, who is the most servant-hearted of all. God, in His authoritative Word, has much to say to the Christian about being servant-hearted.
While walking the road going up to Jerusalem, Jesus tells the twelve disciples about the sufferings to come. As they spoke with him, Jesus tells them what a servant is not. He uses the rulers of the Gentiles as an example, saying that they lord their power over the Gentiles. Jesus continues,
“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45 NASB)
Being a servant is being proactive in loving others well. It is not merely speaking of the desire to love and serve but to live out what Jesus commands of us. Jesus says,
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13 NASB)
To love without expecting in return applies to every aspect of our lives: work, school, marriage, family, friends, church, etc. The joy in loving and serving is blessing the receiver. Loving others becomes tainted when our intention is rooted in self-motivation, manipulation, pridefulness or expected reciprocation. In other words, if Jesus Christ is not our example and motivation for why we love and serve others, then our intentions are rooted in self. We cannot simultaneously live for ourselves and live for Jesus. Living for Jesus means that our lives declare His lordship. One of the ways this is expressed is how we love and serve those around us. Jesus tells his disciples,
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25 NASB)
Here are four characteristics of a servant-hearted Christian:
- They are unwavered in their dependence on the Lord.
Do you pray diligently for the Holy Spirit to make you more servant-hearted?
Do you believe God can help you be more like Jesus in His selflessness?
In what areas of your life is the Lord prompting you to be more servant-hearted?
We must first be a servant of Christ Jesus. How can we biblically serve others if we aren’t serving the One who teaches us how to?
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”(Romans 8:11-14 NASB)
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:16-17 NASB)
- They selflessly serve.
Are you serving with joy and willingness?
Do you feel your needs are more important than the needs of others?
Are you disappointed when something you’ve done for someone isn’t reciprocated?
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:3-7 NASB)
- They generously serve.
Do you allow ill feelings to drive your willingness to serve another person?
Do you find yourself feeling inconvenienced by the needs of others?
In what ways has God provided opportunities for you to serve another person?
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14 NASB)
- They authentically serve.
Are you genuine in the ways you serve those around you?
Do you find yourself serving others to make a good impression?
In what ways do you show others that you love and care for them?
Are you reliable in your commitments?
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:15-17 NASB)
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3:23-24 NASB)