Servant by Choice

In Christian circles, the word “servant” is often thrown around as an expected lifestyle choice. But what does this word mean and when applied to our lives, what does servanthood look like? As a child, the word always brought to mind a picture of a butler or maid serving the wealthy, following them around throughout their day, and picking up after them. To me, the idea of being a servant was not that appealing. The idea of being a servant equated to wearing a very uncomfortable stuffy uniform, in which I had to stand perfectly straight while following around my master picking up after his laziness. In truth to be a servant meant to suffer and ultimately mean that I would have an unfulfilled life.  The idea of just mindlessly following someone else around their world, cleaning up their messes, picking up their garbage, washing, pressing and folding their soiled clothing, and being at their beck and call 24 hours a day, and having to do everything that they tell me to do with no free will of my own, 7 days a week wasn’t appealing. I felt that if I chose to be a servant, what I was really choosing was the elimination of my individuality and ability to make my own choices. But, several years ago I came across a simple yet profound statement in scripture that made things much clearer on this issue of serventhood, when it relates to our call as Christians and followers of Christ. There is something in every single letter of the New Testament that you may have missed or overlooked when reading them. It is something that I had missed for many years; it was the greeting. Most of the letters begin in the same way that we would if we were writing a letter, they begin with a formal greeting. In fact nearly all of the Apostle Paul’s letters begin the same way:  “Paul called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.” But in Romans and Philippians, there is a slight but significant change that I want to look at. In these two books he begins this way, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.”

Curious about why Paul chose a different greeting, I discovered what Paul’s view of being a servant was and how even a simple greeting could have profound impact on our lives as followers of Christ. I found that the Greek meaning of this word “servant”, that Paul uses, had nothing to do with my misconceptions of servanthood.  The meaning of this word is actually two fold: (1) a “slave,” who completely belongs to his owner and has no freedom to leave, and (2) a “servant,” who willing chooses to serve his master. This completely changed my view of servanthood. I recalled how the Word says we are not our own and that we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). And as Christ portrayed in the gospels, through many of His parables, there are always going to be good and bad servants. To truly serve Christ is a choice, and a choice that we must make on a daily basis. As the second part of the definition states, Paul is proclaiming that his position is one of willingness to serve Christ as his master in the appointed position of apostleship. No matter the circumstances, Paul is declaring where his loyalty lies and that no matter the season of life he is in he is serving only one person; God.

I have prayed that I would adopt this meaning of servant many times in my life. Earlier, I told you that my idea of a servant was someone who followed his master around all day, and I did not like that idea. I realize now that is exactly what I want to be–a servant who follows his Lord and Savior all day, every day. Ask yourself, am I choosing every day to serve and follow Christ, or am I allowing my loyalties to be divided between this world and Christ?  The dichotomy of the World and Christ is really a choice between Self and Christ. Are choosing to serve ourselves and our own self interests or are we willingly choosing to follow and serve Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, in whom we have eternal life. Make a clear distinction in your heart today which one can truly offer you more in this life.  And as a side note I can promise you that the world will let you down every time. Christ alone is faithful.

Final Thought: Mathew 6:24 – No servant can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Who are you willfully choosing to be a servant of?