The Heart of a Servant
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). I think many Christians work very hard to keep themselves unspotted from the world. But how well are we keeping the first injunction of this verse? “Pure religion” is more than avoiding sin. Pure religion is looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to serve others. Each of us needs to cultivate the heart of a servant.
A servant’s heart is filled with self-forgetful love. There is no room for selfishness or pride. The servant rejoices to be of help and encouragement to others. This love is not tainted with self-promotion, ulterior motives, or false humility. A servant truly wishes to serve because he loves those who receive his service.
An elder who has this love serves because of his deep, sincere concern for the souls in his charge. He does not crave the status of his position. He does not use his authority to “lord it over the flock” for his own benefit or for the promotion of his ego. He serves humbly, often quietly enduring the abuse of brethren who should treat him better. He serves because He loves the Lord and the Lord’s people. He serves because his brothers and sisters need his leadership.
A preacher who has this love preaches the Gospel because of his love for his brethren and his love for lost souls. He is not out to make a name for himself. He is not in it for the money. He is not trying to create a reputation for eloquence, seeking the praises of men. He is doing his best to build up the church and preach the word to lost souls. He is striving to handle aright the Word, speaking as the oracles of God. He does his best to remove every stumbling block and every impediment to the Gospel that he might, “by all means, save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
A teacher who has this love teaches because of his love for his students. While he appreciates compliments and encouraging words, what really thrills him is the knowledge and understanding he sees developing in his students. As the apostle John wrote, a teacher has “no greater joy than to hear that [his] children walk in the truth” (3 John 4).
A brother who has this love will serve others because of his love for them. He will do it willingly, not begrudgingly. He will seek out opportunities to serve. He won’t see any work as beneath his dignity. He will feel good after serving, but not because of a smug, self-congratulatory, “aren’t-I-a-good-fellow” attitude. Rather, his joy will stem from the fact that he was able to help bear another’s burden. He will serve, and rejoice in his service, whether or not he receives thanks and recognition. He isn’t serving to receive praise for himself. He is serving to benefit others.
A husband who has this love will consistently put his wife’s interest, welfare and comfort before his own. He will sacrifice for her because he loves her. A wife will similarly honor, respect and submit to her husband. The two of them will be a powerful team in the Lord’s service because of the strength and security they have in their mutual love for one another and in their love for the Lord.
The heart of a servant is a heart full of sincere, selfless love. May the Lord grant each of us that kind of heart.