Tag Archives: Service

Philippian Right-mindedness: The Submissive Mind

December 18, 2014

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Washing of Feet - Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337)

Washing of Feet – Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men – Philippians 2:5-7

Christ came here and gave himself over to the service of man-kind.

Even though he is divine,

Even though he is God,

Even though he had the power to take what he wanted while he was here,

He gave himself to us – up to and including the sacrifice on the cross.

Christ will take his followers and do the same thing to them. Everyone. It doesn’t matter if we are elders, deacons, teachers, ministers – whatever – Christ will make us servants. This is the essence of the mind of Christ:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4

Christians have the tendency to become service minded as they read and study and work to become Christ-like.

But it’s not a natural act is it?

When we were kids playing house, or role playing, no one ever volunteered to be the butler. It is not natural to set goals to become an even harder worker and do even more for someone else. In Matthew 20, we see the typical human attitude in the disciples. James and John even got their mother to speak on their behalf to secure a high place in Christ’s kingdom. The other ten angry disciples are getting ready to mix it up over this when Jesus ends the event of Matthew 20:20-28 with his purpose for being on earth:

…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Matthew 20:28

I’m not sure the disciples ever got this until sometime after the events in Acts 1.

We know John 13 well. Jesus knelt down to wash the disciples’ feet before their meal. The most menial of tasks. What was he teaching us by doing such a thing? We see the mind of Christ at work here when he said to go and do likewise. (John 13:15)

As Paul is reminding the church of Christ’s humble attitude in Philippians 2, he is telling us what Jesus tried to teach his entire time on earth:

Christ wants a church that serves (Philippians 2:4)

And a church that does it gladly (Philippians 2:14)

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How We Can Grow Our “One Talent” Service

June 18, 2014

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Etching of the Parable of the Talents from the Bowyer Bible

Etching of the Parable of the Talents from the Bowyer Bible

In a previous article about the “One Talent Servant,” we looked at the excuses the servant made to explain how he failed his master. Based on the lessons learned from The Parable of the Talents, (Matthew 25:14-30) we come to understand that we can get lost in a sea of excuses and never really see the problem.

What are the root causes of the one talent servant’s failure?

It was not because of the workload or reward potential. The key to this passage is that each servant was given “according to his ability.” (Matthew 25:15) When the accounting time came, the five talent and two talent servants were rewarded equally.

The amount they were given and the amount they returned did not come into play, because they tried their best.

God only expects from us what we are equipped to handle at any given time.

But he also expects us to get to work with whatever we have!

We can quickly examine the attitude of the one talent servant and see at least three problems:

  • He had a low opinion of the master – The servant had no love or understanding of what the master planned
  • He did not believe the master was fair – Why should he have gotten only one talent to manage?
  • He was lazy – He didn’t even look into some very safe uses for the money

That laziness is one that can sneak up on a person. It is a very scary thought to realize that when he (Christ) comes, the lazy will be cast out, not because they did not believe, or because they had rebelled, but because they had neglected their opportunities.

For the Christian expecting the return of the Master, it is a good idea to take a little inventory.

What do I have?

What can I do?

Am I using these things as well as I can for the Master?

Am I making “one talent” excuses?

When we can answer those questions honestly, we can begin converting ourselves from a “one talent servant” into a two talent servant!

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How to Be Worthy Servants

April 14, 2014

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The Parable of the Unworthy Servant is a strong statement about our attitude toward serving God.

The Parable of the Unworthy Servant is a strong statement about our attitude toward serving God.

“…we have only done what was our duty.”

The Unworthy Servant passage makes me stop every time. (Luke 7:7-10)

The World

When it comes to passages to be worried about, this one is near the top of my list.

By the worldly benchmark, we are taught to finish a project, finish it to specs, and finish it within budget. The ones who do this well are promoted and given bonuses and praise.

We are programed to strive to reach the top and enjoy the rewards we have merited.

The Kingdom of God

That is not how the spiritual realm works though. We are told to be perfect, (Matthew 5:48) yet all have sinned and fallen short of perfect. (Romans 3:23)

When the subject comes up, I like to tell people that the Bible only teaches about one way to retire from God’s work. That is because our work is never done to perfection. The more mature among us have instructions to teach others and be leaders. There is no retirement age during our earthly stay!

We never reach the point where we merit indebtedness from God.

The Passage! How do I apply the Passage??

I have seen it taught that Luke (17:7-10) means we cannot get to heaven by doing only what God commands. That cannot be right, though. This is one of the first measures of love we show God. (John 14:15)

The passage is a warning not to get too cozy in our righteousness. Assuming we could get to the point of perfection, it would not a time to take it easy and expect godly accolades.

The point Jesus was driving home is that we are to remain humble servants, looking for what the Master needs from us next.

Question: What is your current goal in your service to God? What are you doing to reach it?




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How Do We Decide What is “Better?”

March 21, 2014

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Christ in the House of Mary and Martha - 1618 - Diego Velázquez (1599–1660)

Christ in the House of Mary and Martha – 1618 – Diego Velázquez (1599–1660)

Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best. – John C. Maxwell

I’ve got to say ‘no’ to the good so I can say ‘yes’ to the best. – Zig Ziglar

John Maxwell and Zig Ziglar, experts on leadership and motivation, both use(d) this quote extensively. Many others can be cited using the same idea with Google and a little time.

The basic idea is that most wildly successful people achieved extraordinary things because they were able to say the simple word ‘no’ on a routine basis. It doesn’t seem very intuitive, but the concept is simple:

There is not enough time to address most, much less all, of the worthy needs that request our attention throughout our life.

In Luke 4:42-44, we see Jesus having to make the same kind of decision:

Lots of people wanted Jesus to stay in Capernaum to teach and heal them. (We also know that many there did not accept him – Matthew 11:23-24) It would have been easy for Jesus to stay right there until all were healed and he had won over all the nonbelievers.

Certainly there was disappointment whenever Jesus moved on, but the best use of his short time demanded that he …

…must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also – Luke 4:43

A little Later in the Gospel of Luke, (Luke 10:38-42) we see Jesus demonstrating this again with Mary and Martha. Martha was busy with “the good”, Mary chose “the best.”

It is a very common mistake, especially in the context of our church participation, to get caught up in the programs. There are programs to feed the poor, care for the elderly, visit the sick – all excellent ideas – helpful and loving ideas. But we see Jesus often stop short of being helpful and loving in favor of teaching.

He pointed out sins …

He informed the lost of their condition …

Sometimes he passed through towns without healing anybody …

Using Jesus’ example, we know we need to get to work – but choose wisely!

Doing good work is a key part of our faith, (James 2:26) but our primary and first instruction is to teach and save the lost. (Matthew 28:18-20) This is the assessment we should make every time we are asked to commit to something “good.”


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Marys and Marthas

September 15, 2013

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Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary by Tintoretto, 16th century.

Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary by Tintoretto, 16th century.

Today (or the next time) as you attend the worship services, I ask you to classify yourself as a Mary or Martha. (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha was hard at work, serving the guests in her house.

Mary took advantage of the opportunity to sit at her Lord’s feet to learn.

There is lots of work that needs to be done to support a worship service, I give you that. There is even more to do to get into heaven. Be sure your priorities are on getting the spiritual nourishment you need for the edification of your faith. (Romans 10:17)


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