Servants Not Celebrities 4/18/99

Matthew 24:44-47

Jesus Christ sprinkled His wonderful teachings with clues as to how to have joy, happiness, and fulfillment. Would you like this triumvirate in your life? Virtually everyone does. Good! That means you and the Lord are on the same page.

Albert Schweitzer, a brilliant man with four PhD’s said, “The only ones among us who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” SERVE?

In a day when it is celebrity status that is sought in anticipation of it bringing fulfillment and happiness many have a void in life.

Astronauts David R. Scott and James B Irwin were the focus of worldwide attention July 30 through August 1, 1971. Having landed on the moon in their spacecraft Falcon, they proceeded to set unimaginable records. They had explored 17.4 miles of the moon’s surface in their electric car. They were doing what mankind had dreamed of for centuries. As a result of their heroic exploits their names would forever be etched in the annals of space travel. Virtual deification awaited them upon return.

After piloting their spacecraft on their 250,000 mile journey back to planet Earth, James Irwin noted, “As I was returning to earth I realized that I was a servant —- not a celebrity. So I am here as God’s servant on planet earth to share what I have experienced that others might know the glory of God.”

That is the only reason we are here on earth. Failing to realize our purpose and by not filling it people are left unfulfilled and unhappy.

Jesus Christ illustrated the most profound principles of life with the simplest of stories. He told of a master going away and leaving a servant in charge. He noted the servant could respond in one of two ways. He could faithfully exercise the will of his master or he could be unfaithful and disloyal.

The purpose of the story was to illustrate for us the need of remaining faithful to our Master as His servants. Previously He had said, “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master” (Matthew 10:25).

(1) A servant does what he says he will do. vs. 3

(2) A servant will be an example to the people. vs. 4

(3) A servant does not do what he does to be seen. vs. 5

(4) A servant puts others before himself. vs. 6

(5) A servant is humble not proud. vs. 7, 8

Those who teach spiritual truths must model the truths shared. Spiritual teachers are not merely passing on a body of information to students, but they must model it. They are to be living demonstrations of how to integrate faith and practice. The student can be considered taught when the teacher is emulated.

A primary characteristic of a servant is he is under authority. Philippians 2:8 says of Christ, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Christ’s optimum obedience is noted in this same passage in that He was “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Our Master, Jesus Christ, was under authority and so should we be. He took the towel, the symbol of servanthood, and washed the disciple’s feet.

Richard Foster: “Whenever there is trouble over who is the greatest, there is trouble over who is the least. That is the crux of the matter for us, isn’t it? Most of us know we will never be the greatest; just don’t let us be the least. Gathered at the Passover feast, the disciples were keenly aware that someone needed to wash the others’ feet. The problem was that the only people who washed feet were the least. So there they sat, feet caked with dirt. It was such a sore point that they were not even going to talk about it. No one wanted to be considered the least. Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness.”

Right here we must see the difference between choosing to serve and choosing to be a servant. When we chose to serve, we are still in charge. We decide whom we will serve and when we will serve. And if we are in charge, we will worry a great deal about anyone stepping on us, that is, taking charge over us.

But when we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. There is great freedom in this. If we voluntarily choose to be taken advantage of, then we cannot be manipulated. When we choose to be a servant, we surrender the right to decide when we will serve. We become available and vulnerable.

Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve. Sometimes the low and defenseless are served because that will ensure a humble image. True service is indiscriminate in its ministry. It has heard the command of Jesus.

Mother Teresa said, “I belong to Jesus, He must have the right to use me without consulting me.” That is the spirit of this text: “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). Being His gives Him the right to use us.

Much of the Old Testament was His pre-written biography. Numerous prophecies told of what He would be and do. Once on His earthly mission, He could choose to or not to do what is was said of Him. Wilfully, He was faithful under the authority of God’s Word. Every believer should be also.

An illustration of this is found in Hebrews 10: 5 & 9: “A body you have prepared for me…Behold I have come–In the volume of the book it is written of Me–To do your will, O God…Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.”

The Father’s will was made known in the Old Testament. Jesus Christ willfully put Himself under that authority.

Isaiah 61: 1, 2a identified specific things Christ was to come to do. He was obedient in doing them. We too are to serve under the authority of the Bible.

Recently in Reno, Nevada, I heard of a partially-educated individual who had great faith. He was asked if He believed in the verbal inspiration of Scripture. He replied, “I sure do. I believe in the verbal inspiration, the adverbal inspiration, the nounal and prounounal inspiration, and the conjunctional inspiration of the Bible.” Me too!


– Co-servants, check yourself on this one text. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33). Much is said about spiritual authority without really knowing what it is.

Spiritual authority is the authority to serve, authority to put yourself last, authority to say no to the world’s idea of self-promotion. Christ has told us His secret … and we are authorized to imitate Him. To obey means putting yourself at the whim of the needs of others, to give up your rights and humble yourself, leaving the promotion and control up to God.

Afficionados of old war movies know well the winner of seven Academy Awards “Bridge Over the River Kwai.” Filmed in 1957 this film directed by David Lean won Best Picture of the Year. Anyone having seen it will never forget the theme music.

This epic is the story of prisoners of war held by the Japanese in the Kwai valley. It depicts how they were tortured and abused. At times their exploitation is gruesome. Their miserable state is graphically portrayed.

There is another account of the events that happened there the secular media would not dare tell. It is a book entitled Through the Valley of the Kwai by Ernest Gordon.

It also depicts the brutality suffered. It further accounts the infighting among the group as an outgrowth of their sense of frustration and futility. However, it tells the true story of how one member of that tortured company had a New Testament. Lacking anything to do an enlisted man asked that a portion be read one day. Soon all the men were listening. It transformed the camp completely. Infighting stopped and kind reactions resulted from mistreatment. One day a train load of wounded Japanese soldiers stopped in the compound. Forgetting all about themselves the prisoners comforted and ministered to them. They said they were merely doing what Christ taught we should do to our enemies.

As spiritual prisoners of war we too need to respond in like manner.

– Here is a second test:

Jesus said, “I am come to seek and to save that which is lost.” Then He added, “As my Father has sent Me, even so send I you.” Are you sharing your faith in Christ in such a way as to try to encourage people to receive Him as Savior?

– Another test is found in II Corinthians 5: 19, 20. Therein, He said we are His ambassadors. This role we can’t fulfill without Him and He won’t fulfill without us.

It is God’s WORD — “the word”

It is God’s WORK — “reconciliation”

It must be done in God’s WAY — “God…pleading through us.”

As Jesus was under authority, so He expects us to be. After His resurrection, He said to His followers, “Behold My hands, and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39).

The Holy Spirit whose mission it is to draw people to Christ has no body of His own. No hands, feet, or mouth. That is, unless we let Him use ours.

“God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).

This combination forms a unique relationship. He has your body and you have His Spirit.

Because Christ was faithfully under authority, ALL authority has been given unto Him — READ: Matthew 28: 19, 20.

There are two New Testament words for power. One means ability. The other authority. We are so preoccupied with Christ’s ability and our desire for Him to use it for our good that we forget about His authority over us.

As Christ was under the authority of the Father, so we are to be under His authority.

He said, “All authority is given unto Me…” Then He added, “Lo, I am with you…” We consider this to be comforting, and it is. We are reassured in light of His ability, that is, His power. Often we fail to realize His primary reason for being with us is to exercise authority over us.

His presence is not just for our COMFORT but for His CONTROL over us.

When we are under His control, we are under all that is His.

A wealthy antique collector whose only son and wife had died some years before also died. He left a large estate containing many valuable antiques. His meticulous will detailed how everything was to be disposed of. According to the provisions of the will, a well-publicized auction was set. Major collectors came from great distances. Their disappointment was visible when the first item offered was an amateurish oil painting of the son of the deceased. The first bid came only after considerable prodding from the auctioneer. $25 was the first bid. The auctioneer knew how to motivate bidders and soon got a $50 bid. Bids rose: $100, $125, and finally $150.

With the awarding of the painting, an envelope was to be opened according to the instructions of the will. The brief note therein stated, “All that is here belongs to you. He who gets the Son gets it all.”

If we have the Son of God, we have all that is under His authority. We have it when He has all that is under our authority.