Mar 13, 2022


Preacher: Nathan Schneider

Series: Stand Alone Sermons

Category: Sunday Morning



It’s my privilege this morning to bring a message to you from the word of God, and what God has placed on my heart this week is about one thing…really, about one word: servanthood.

Servanthood is one of the defining calls of the gospel on the life of a believer. If you are a Christian, then you are called to be a servant. There’s no getting around it.

Now, for those who have grown up in the church, servanthood isn’t a new concept. The idea of serving and being a servant has probably been batted around in the church your whole life. Some of you may be familiar with the old chorus that goes, “Make me a servant, humble and meek; Lord let me lift up those who are weak; and may the prayer of my heart always be: make me a servant today.”

Well, if you’re a Christian, guess what? You’re already a servant—at least you’re called to be a one. The question is whether or not you’re a faithful servant. Whether or not you’re an active servant. Whether or not you’re an effective servant.

Servanthood is, obviously, not a popular concept in our culture. It runs contrary to our culture’s values of liberty, autonomy, and self. Even though our culture recognizes and superficially values service and altruism, it’s really considered the activity of the few, not the calling of the many. There is no inherent appeal to service and sacrifice pervading our culture.

But there is in Christianity:

Mark 10:42–44 — "Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 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.’”

That’s the Christian’s call—servanthood—to become last rather than first. And boy is that a hard thing for us to do. That kind of call runs against the grain of our culture and our thinking. It’s countercultural.

The clash of Christianity and American culture happens on many fronts, and we’re seeing more and more fronts opening up that weren’t issues just a few decades earlier.

But there are also perennial issues that are always there, lurking in the background and which influence far more than we think they do.

Winston Churchill once said in a speech given to Parliament in 1947, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried.” And what he was doing, in his inimitable way, was capturing the beauty and the ugliness of democracy. Because on the one hand, democracy upholds freedom and liberty in society by giving every person a voice in the political process. On the other hand, since democracy ultimately relies on people—fallen, faulty, sometimes corrupt people—it can never be a perfect system of government. And in that, it is the worst form of government, even if it’s better than all the others that have been tried.

The same could be said about our system of economics—free market capitalism. On the one hand, it’s better than all the other systems that have been tried. Afterall, it promotes freedom and labor. It fosters hard work. It promotes private sector innovation. And it offers the hope of real reward for those who are willing to take on risk. And in that sense, I think it’s true that capitalism is far superior to any other economic system man has tried.

On the other hand, it’s just as equally the worst economic system there is. After all, no other system makes it so easy and so possible to indulge in greed, selfishness, consumerism. One of the most famous lines from the movie Wallstreet comes from the character Gordon Gekko, when he said, “Greed is good.” And to a certain degree the entire system functions because people are inherently consumeristic.

And there’s no question that the consumerist culture that we live in is a problem, especially for the church. The culture—undergirded by the system—says, “Life is about you; money is everything; the world exists to bring you happiness and pleasure; convenience is king.” And so with those values, capitalism invites everyone to go out into the free market as a consumer of goods and services. We have needs, and somewhere there is someone with a product or a service that can meet those needs, and hopefully there’s enough competition to drive the cost down on that price so I can get that product or service for the least amount of money possible.

Understand this: that is diametrically opposed to the gospel. While the culture says, “You’re number one; life is about you!” the gospel says, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Christ.” It says, “Whoever wants to be great among must become a slave to all.”

Understand this as well: we are far more influenced by these cultural values than we think we are. We are consumers living in a consumer culture. So what do you think the odds are that we walk into the doors of the church as consumers as well; as those who are seeking a product or a service and evaluating the church based on how well it meets our needs, and how well it competes with the church down the road that’s trying to do the same thing?

Let’s get something straight. Our economic system might rely on each one of us taking on the role of consumer in order to operate, but that role has no place in the life of the church. And while it’s okay to participate in our capitalist economy—to buy and sell, and look for good prices—the Christian is called to a different role than consumer. The Christian is called to servanthood.

And if we’re going to embrace this calling—if we’re going to carry out this calling effectively in the church, then we have to have a better understanding of what servanthood is and what it looks like. Servanthood is the default call of the believer in the gospel. So what does true, biblical servanthood look like? Or what kind of servant does God want me to be? Eight essential elements of effective servants in the church:

Gospel-enabled servants

We’re starting with the most important first because this element supports everything else we’re going to talk about this morning. Nothing else matters until we understand the fundamental truth that Christian servanthood starts at conversion. Or let me put it another way: there is no service possible that you can give to God or to others that precedes faith in Jesus Christ. It starts at the gospel and is enabled by the gospel.

When man was first created, he was created in order to function in the capacity God had assigned. Granted, this capacity was a lofty one—man was elevated far above the other creatures of the world. Man was made as God’s image. He was given the task to rule and the exercise dominion over the earth and over the creatures of the earth. He was placed in the garden of Eden to cultivate the ground. These are all noble tasks. But they were tasks given to him by God. As he lived out this mandate, he was effectively serving God.

Now, with that thought in mind, consider what the fall of man in Genesis 3 signifies about man’s status as God’s servants. Man effectively rebelled—he refused to serve God. And Paul captures this rebellion in Romans 1:25 when he says that man in his futile thinking “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”

The word “served” here is the Greek word latreuo, which is a word that has to do with service done in religious devotion to a deity. That is to say, inherent in man’s rebellion against God was a shift in his devotion and his service. He devoted himself to something else other than God—the creature, according to Paul.

Remember Jesus’ words when he said in Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” Now, he was talking about money in that scenario, but the principle applies to money because it is a foundational principle for everything. Loyalty, by definition, is about unmixed devotion.

When we’re talking about being a servants and about our calling to servanthood, we have the start with the basis of that calling which is our faith in Jesus Christ. God’s goal in redemption is to free people from the slavery of sin, to reconcile them to himself that they might once again serve him.

Service follows and is made possible only by God’s redemption. That was true in the OT when God redeemed Israel from Egypt. Several times the statement was made to Pharoah, “Let Israel go, that they may serve me.” The redemption Israel experienced in Egypt through the blood of the Passover lamb prepared them to become a nation of servants to God.

There’s a trend in many churches to try to plug people into service who are unbelievers in the hope that by serving, they can hear about Jesus and maybe be converted in the process. I have to admit that I am vehemently opposed to that kind of pragmatic approach to service and evangelism, and it’s for a couple of reasons.

For one, I don’t wany anyone to think that there’s some kind of service that they can render to God that would be acceptable apart from Christ. That’s so anti-gospel and anti-Christian that it is close to saying you can come to God a different way than through Jesus Christ. You need to understand that the only service that God will find acceptable is the service that is washed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Another reason I don’t like this approach is because I don’t want to reinforce in anyone’s mind that they can somehow work their way towards salvation.

What you need to understand more than anything else is that service starts at salvation. Consider the believers in Thessalonica as an example. Paul says they “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thess 1:9). That’s the order of events. If you haven’t turned to God from idols, then your service cannot be in devotion to God. Man cannot serve two masters.

True servanthood, then, starts at the gospel. It is gospel-prepared.

Christ-like servants

When we think about the Christian life, we think about a life of discipleship in which we have turned from out old life and we have become followers and disciples of Jesus Christ. We’re “Christians”—little Christs.

The entire process of sanctification is about God saving us from the power of sin over our lives. In salvation, we were saved from the penalty of sin. At our glorification when we go home to be with the Lord, we will be saved from the very presence of sin, but during our life on earth until that time, our experience as believers is one of God slowly saving us from the power of sin in our lives.

Paul wrote in Romans 8:29, “Those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers.” Our sanctification is the process of God slowly making us look more and more like Jesus Christ. And that process will be complete when we see him just as he is and, as John writes in 1 John 3:2, “we will be like Him.”

So we know that as Christians, our foremost desire should be to be like Jesus. And if we want to be like Jesus, then we have to understand that Jesus was a servant.

He told his disciples, who had been arguing over who among them was the greatest, “Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:26–28).

The reality is that Jesus didn’t have to come as a servant. Of all the people who ever lived, only Jesus qualifies as the one person who deserves to be served by all and who shouldn’t be expected to serve others. Yet he came and served, and that’s what makes his life so shocking and counterintuitive.

He told his disciples in Luke 22:26, “The one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” Here are two cultural categories with clearly defined roles that we can understand. We tend to ascribe honor and greatness to those who are older, who are experienced. Yet greatness for us comes when we become not like the older person but when we embrace the social stigma of being the youngest.

Similarly, we think of being a leadership in terms of greatness. And in our minds, leaders lead while servants serve. But in this upside-down kingdom paradigm of Jesus, greatness is found in being a servant and becoming the youngest—the bottom end of the cultural spectrum.

But listen to how he reinforces this in the next verse: “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines? But I am among you as the one who serves.”

He demonstrated that distinctly for us in the upper room when he did the unthinkable. He girded himself with a towel and he went around the room washing the disciples’ dirty, stinking feet. This was the job of the slave. It was not just undignified; it was unthinkable for someone of reputation to perform. Yet he did it, and in so doing he modeled servanthood for us. He told his disciples, “You call me teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the teacher, wash your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed is you do them” (John 13:13–17).

That’s the counterintuitive, unexpected ministry of Jesus, who although he existed “in the form of God,” Paul says in Philippians 2:5, “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a slave, by being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

So if you want to be like Jesus Christ, you can’t do better than to serve, because Jesus was a servant. Show me a person who wants to be more like Christ, and I’ll show you a person who wants to serve like Christ did.

Leader-equipped servants

There’s a fairly popular misconception within the church that the work of ministry is to be accomplished through a select group of “professional Christians.” These “ministers” exist to serve the church, and the body exists to receive their service.

And to a certain extent that’s accurate. All throughout the NT, Paul referred to his work as an apostle and evangelist and pastor using the language of service. In 1 Corinthians 3:5 he wrote, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to each one.” Paul referred to himself as a “servant”—a diakonos—one who waits on tables. He was a servant serving God by serving others with the message of the gospel.

In the next chapter—1 Corinthians 4:1—he wrote, “Let a man consider us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” The word “servant” here is huperatas, a word used to describe someone who was an oarsman on the lower deck of a galley ship, given the responsibility to steward the gospel.

In Colossians 1:21 he wrote, “And although you were formerly alienated and enemies in mind and in evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you in the body of his flesh through death, in order to present you before him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister”—a “servant.” Notice how closely tied Paul’s role as a “servant” was to Paul’s role as a proclaimer of the gospel. His job as God’s servant and was to serve the Gentiles with the message of salvation.

He then goes on to explain that service in more detail in verses 24 through 28: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and I fill u0p what is lacking of Christ’s afflictions in my flesh, on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God given to me for you, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to his saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Now listen to this, because this next verse summarizes Paul’s work as a gospel servant to the church: “Him we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.”

The entire goal of Paul’s ministry—his philosophy of service as an apostle, you could say—was by means of preaching and teaching the word of God, present every person “complete” in Christ. The word “complete” is teleios. It speaks of maturity. It speaks of being fully grown. He’s saying he wants every person—every individuals believer—to be a fully-grown, fully mature believer in Christ.

Now, turn back to Ephesians 4 with me, because I want you to see that this not just the role of Paul in the early church. This is the role of every pastor and teacher. Look at Ephesians 4:11—“And he himself gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

To get a sense of what this passage is saying, let’s start from the end. What is the goal? What is it that God wants? He wants the church to be mature…you see that when he says, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” God wants his church to be mature. He wants them to be a fully grown, fully functional, mature church, where every part of the body is working as it should be. That word “mature,” by the way, is the same word teleios, that Paul used to describe his personal ministry as an apostle—to present every man teleios—mature—in Christ.

So, how do you get there? How does the church get to this point? It happens, Paul says, as the church does the work of the ministry and thus builds up the body of Christ. That’s how the church becomes mature. When it ministers to itself and so builds itself up.

And to make that possible, Paul says that Jesus Christ, the Lord and head of the church, gave specific gifts to the church in the form of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors and teachers. Apostles and prophets were operating early on at the foundation of the church. Then as churches became established, and as the apostles and prophets dropped off the scene at the completion of the NT scriptures, evangelists and pastors and teachers filled the unique and critical role of equipping believers to do the work of service in the church so that the church could build itself up to maturity.

So going back to our initial statement. What is the role of the “minister?” What is the role of the “pastor?” And from both Colossians 1:28 and Ephesians 4:11–13 it becomes clear, the role of pastors and teachers in the church is to serve the church by teaching God’s word to God’s people so that both individually and corporately, the church will grow to maturity in Christ.

That’s my goal for you as a pastor. That’s why I’m here preaching this message right now. I want you as a Christian to be growing in your faith, so that you can be equipped to serve the body. As you mature and grow, your service grows as well. And as everyone participates in this growth individually, the entire church grows as a body because every believer here is doing the work of ministry and building up the body of Christ.

The reality is that you can’t have a mature Church without mature Christians, nor can you have mature Christians without a mature church. Pastors serve the church by teaching, shepherding, counseling, and admonishing the church so that the church can be fully functional operational in ministering to itself.

This is why we teach and preach the word. This is why we have such a heavy emphasis here on Scripture. This is why we have preaching going on here and teaching going on in fellowship groups in other rooms. We want to equip you for the work of ministry because ultimately its not the pastors and teachers who are responsible to build up the body. It’s the body that builds up the body. It’s the body that does the work of ministry, and we’re here to help equip you for that task.

So what kind of servants do we want to me? Gospel-enabled, Christ-like, leader-equipped servants.

Show me a mature, growing, thriving Christian and I’ll show you someone who is faithfully serving for the sake of the whole church.

Spirit-empowered service

The whole premise of this is built around the fact that if God has called every believer to servanthood, then he hasn’t called us to something has hasn’t properly equipped us for.

In other words, if God expects us to serve, then he certainly has given us the resources necessary to accomplish that task.

In 2 Peter 1:2, it says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the full knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence.” In other words, God has already granted to us in Christ every spiritual resource necessary for life and godliness. That includes our call to service in the church.

So what has God given us to empower us in effective serve? He has given to us gifts, through the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of serving one another and so building up the body of Christ. These gifts are not the same thing as natural talents. They don’t always spill over from skills and talents you have in the secular field. They are ways of serving the church that have the very power of the Holy Spirit behind them.

Listen to Peter in 1 Peter 4:10—“As each one has received a gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God—whoever speaks, as one speaking the oracles of God; whoever serves, as one serving by the strength which God supplies.” So right here, we see two broad categories of spiritual gifts given to the church. On the one hand there are those gifted to speak. These are teaching gifts. This would include those who are evangelists and pastors, as well as those with the gift of exhortation. And the point Peter makes is that if you’re employing this gift, you do so as one who is speaking for God. In other words, let his word be the foundation for your service.

The other category Peter brings up is the category of “service.” He says, “whoever serves.” This includes those with the gift of helps, mercy, giving, administrating. All the “doing” gifts which serve the body. And the overarching admonition from Peter is that “whoever serves, let them serve as one serving by the strength which God supplies.” In other words, always do your work in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever you’re doing to serve the church, it’s not supposed to come out of your own strength. God has given these gifts so that the body can minister to itself. So that, as we saw in Ephesians 4, it can build itself up until it reaches maturity.

Thus, the whole point of spiritual gifts is to minister to others. We don’t have these gifts for our own sake. It’s not that we won’t benefit from them. I’m certainly benefited by my gift of teaching. But I don’t teach for myself. I teach so I can minister to you and equip you. Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:7, “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for what is profitably.” We’re given these gifts for the good of others in the body.

Now, you may be sitting there saying to yourself, “That’s all well and good, but I have no idea what my spiritual gift or gifts might be.” And you know what? That’s okay! What’s not okay is saying, “Since I don’t know what my gift might be, I guess I just won’t be involved in ministry until I get it figured out. Don’t let ignorance in this issue keep you from serving. In fact, one of the ways you get clarity on this is by praying for enlightenment and clarity on how God’s gifted you and then jumping into ministry and start serving somewhere. Part of the discovery process is simply done through experimentation. You consider your natural skills and abilities—not that they always align with your gifting, but often God chooses to gift you in similar areas—and then you jump into ministry and see what seems to fit. Then you start to self-evaluate as well as get feedback from some mature believers who can either affirm or not affirm that particular gift in you. That’s how it’s done. It’s not rocket science. Yet it does take putting yourself out there and engaging in ministry.

And if you turn out to serve in an area that you’re not gifted in, that’s okay! In fact, even if you know your particular gift or gifts, if there’s a need that arises in the church that’s outside the area of your gifting, but you can fill that need, then guess what…fill it! Just because you’re not a teacher or an exhorter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak the word of God into someone’s life when they need it! Or just because you don’t have the particular gift of helps doesn’t mean you don’t jump in and serve someone in the background if the need arises and you can fill that need.

Robert Thomas has written a fantastic book on spiritual gifts, and he addressed this very issue when he wrote, “Every one of the eight gifts represents a general Christian responsibility, a ministry where every Christian is responsible to God to be active, whether he or she has that gift or not. If you turn out not be gifted in a given way, you have not sinned, you have simply obeyed God in trying to have a positive effect on the growth of the body of Christ through carrying out duties every Christian should be performing. It is no sin to witness to a lost person and seek to win him to Christ if you do not have the gift of evangelism. You have not sinned by trying to comfort a bereaved brother or sister in Christ without having the gift of showing mercy. That is a service you should perform anyway, whether you have the gift or not. The same is true throughout the list of eight operative gifts. Each is a duty every child of God needs to carry out even without that specific specialized ability. In the process of trying out the gifts one by one, you will not only discover your gift, but you will fulfill the will of God for your life as a Christian” (Thomas, Understanding Spiritual Gifts, 207).

All right, let’s move onto the next element. We’ve seen Spirit-enabled. Now let’s look at number 5…

Character-driven servants

Whenever we’re serving others in the church, we have to be aware of some things. First, we have to be aware of whose strength we’re serving with, and that’s why we just discussed spiritual gifts. We never want to be serving in our own strength.

But there’s a couple other things we need to be aware of as we serve, because if we aren’t careful things can creep in and either keep us from serving or render our service ineffective. And these things we’re going to talk about now aren’t things that necessarily show up on the outside. Sometimes they will, but by and large what we’re concerned with at the moment are things going on in our hearts.

Primarily we’re concerned with two things: our motivations and our attitudes.

First, let’s talk about motivation. We could ask the question, “Why am I serving?” Now, the simple answer is, “Well, because God told me I needed to!” But that answer’s not good enough. Yes, obedience is an important motivator for service. But it’s not enough.

There’s a lot of wrong motivations we could have for serving in the church. You could be serving in order to get noticed; to get people to praise you. That’s a temptation for anyone with a speaking gift, by the way, but it could be equally true of the person who works behind the scene.

Similarly, another wrong motivation for serving would be to serve out of guilt. At this point, I want to make it absolutely clear that my goal is not to guilt anyone in this message. I want to bring some accountability; but serving out of guilt is never a godly motivation.

So what should our motivation be? Well, the Bible says in no uncertain terms that the foundational motivation for all service in the church has the begin and end with love. We serve because we love one another.

Going back to 1 Peter 4 for a moment, in the same passage Peter talks about spiritual gifts, he starts out by saying in verse 8, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, employ it in serving one another…” So at the start, before he gets to his instruction on spiritual gifts, he first exhorts his readers to keep their love for one another fervent.

Now, the greatest passage ever written on love is, of course, 1 Corinthians 13, and we’re used to hearing this passage read and expounded at weddings as if it’s main point has to do with marital love. But in reality, the great “love chapter” of the Bible was written to describe the motivation for how believers are to employ their spiritual gifts, and you can hear it in the opening verses of the chapter: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”—that’s a reference to the spiritual gift of tongues, which the Corinthians were particularly enamored with at the expense of other gifts—“And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing”—so here’s more gifts referenced, the gifts of prophecy and word of knowledge—“And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor”—there’s the gift of giving—and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing”—that is to say, if I serve to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice by dying for the faith.

Now, the entire point of this is fairly clear, is it not? If any of this is done without love as its primary motivation, then I renders all these acts of service pointless. It would be better if they hadn’t even been done if they aren’t done out of love.

You remember Jesus’ words in John 13:34—“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” That word “love” here could be synonymous with the idea of serving. It means more than that. But it certainly doesn’t mean anything less.

So as we serve in the church, we can’t neglect asking ourselves the important question, “Why am I doing this?” And it’s not something you ask yourself just once and move on. You have to revisit it regularly as a check on your heart to see why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Now, the other thing we need to be aware of in addition to motivation is the attitude with which we serve. Attitude is important. It would be pretty easy to push this to the side and just assume that as long as the work is getting done, who cares how it’s getting done. Well, God cares how it’s getting done.

One of the attitudes that can get in the way of service in the church is pride. In fact, this attitude might even keep you from serving in the church. When you think that service is beneath you, that you’re better than this, or that some particular ministry in the church is beneath your dignity or not worth your time, that’s a problem. So when you hear that there’s a desperate need for help in children’s ministry, and the thought that comes to mind is, “Serving kids is okay for some people, but there’s better ways to use my time,” then you’re in a dangerous place spiritually.

Remember the example that Jesus set? Who is the greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? And yet Jesus came not as one who reclines but one who serves.

There’s another attitude that can get in the way of service and that is grumbling and complaining. Even if you keep it to yourself, it’s still can be there in your heart and it can render your service ineffective. You never want to serve with an attitude that says, “I’ll do it but I’m not going to like it.”

Both these attitudes—pride and complaining—are met and reversed by one necessary mindset that every one of us needs to have: humility. Listen to Philippians 2:2–4—“fulfill my joy, that you think the same way, by maintaining the same love, being united in spirit, thinking on one purpose, doing nothing from selfish ambition or vain glory, but with humility of mind regarding one another as more important than yourselves, not merely looking out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” In other words, kill pride by putting on humility. Pride is what motivates you to serve others out of selfish ambition. Pride is what makes you consider yourself as more important than others. Pride is what makes you look out only for your own personal interests. But humility gets your eyes off yourself and onto other people.

Later in the passage, in verse 14 Paul says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” And in 1 Peter 4:9, Peter says to “be hospitable to one another without grumbling.” These are the attitudes that kill service, but they’re answered and dealt with if we’re willing to stop elevating ourselves and consider others as more important.

Show me a Christian who is a true servant and I’ll show you someone who has a true, biblical view of himself and who, out of love for other people, is willing to lay aside his own time, resources, and comforts for the sake of others.

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