Monday, October 5, 2009

Improving your serve

"Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
Galatians 6:10 (NIV)

Relationships would be so much easier if it just weren't for the people involved.

In one of the last episodes of Jesus' ministry in Galilee, Jesus told His disciples about His destiny: He will be betrayed, killed, and rise again from the dead (Mark 9:30-31).

Immediately after this revelation, the disciples followed Jesus down the road to Capernaum. But the journey was far from silent. The Twelve argued among themselves who is the greatest within their ranks. Disagreement traveled all the way to Capernaum. When they arrived at the house in which they stayed, Jesus asked the men what they discussed. They were silent.

Jesus knew His friends argued. He also knew what they argued about. And so, He began to teach them about greatness; or rather about humility. If you want to be great, He said, you must be last and a servant (Mark 9:30-37).

What motivates any argument? In James 3, the Apostle writes wherever there is bitter jealousy, covetousness, pride, or selfish ambition, there is turmoil. He also says God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Why? Is it because where pride is there is simply no room for God? Does He give grace to the one who is humble because that person recognizes their need for what He has to give?

James' words accurately describe what took place among the disciples. Unfortunately, the argument didn't belong among the followers of Jesus. Yet, even in His presence there was "disorder" and "vile practices." Jesus turned the disciples' argument upside down. They weren't talking about being last or about serving. But, Jesus said that's how a person becomes first.

Jesus is the greatest. He is the first. He met the criterion when He was delivered into the hands of men, killed, and rose from the dead. He is the servant of all.

Like me, do you quarrel with your spouse because you want something done your way? Do you pull rank to end a family argument? Concerned with your interests, do you ignore a co-worker's need? What about within your church. Do you close your ears to another's viewpoint and push a personal agenda? We're human; so it's probably safe to say we've each, "been there, done that."

Based on Jesus' teaching, James encourages, "Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in meekness of wisdom...the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:13, 17-18)

Are you intrigued by the notion of a servant heart? Does part of you hang back because you're afraid that being last could mean being taken advantage of?

Jesus accomplished the ultimate act of service. He gives us power to serve with wisdom that is humble, open to reason, fair, and forgiving. When we do, we produce "a harvest of righteousness" and peace.

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

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