by Thomas Kourkoulis

What is a servant? What does he do? There are many depictions of what a servant is. There are civil servants and public servants. Comedy has stereotyped the servant as an emotionless human who bad mouths the master behind his back. Even Bob Dylan wrote a song about serving somebody. We make ourselves servants to things also. We serve things by giving our time, energy and focus to them. Persuing careers, pastimes, pleasures and hobbies.

But what is the real definition of a servant. Jesus makes a powerful statement in Matthew 20:28 “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The definition of servanthood is clearly shown by how Jesus lived His life. For Him, serving wasn’t a matter of self promotion, and there wasn’t any other agenda than to do the Father’s will. Servanthood was a character trait in Jesus that came out of His heart and His relationship with His Father. And it’s the same character trait that the Father desires to work into His people.

In Luke 16:13, Jesus again speaks about servants: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and despise the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches)” No one can go through this life without being subject to someone or something. Here, Jesus is saying that serving God requires total devotion; a total surrender of the will, of what we say is good, and of what we want out of life. In Ephesians 6:7, the apostle Paul says this: “With good will render service as to the Lord and not to men.” One verse back, in verse 6, Paul exhorts us to “do the will of God from the heart.” We should always be looking for ways to please the Lord, not men.

In Galatians 5:13-14, Paul again exhorts us to practice service, this time to one another: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” Being a servant not only means that you lay down your life for the Lord, but also for those around you. In John 13:14, Jesus gives another example of this kind of service, after He has just washed His disciples feet: “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” just as He layed down His life for each and every one of us, we also ought to lay down our lives for each other.

Being a servant is much more than doing what someone tells you to do. It is a laying down of the self will, submitting it before God, and taking up His Life, and His Will. Servanthood is not merely a state of mind, it is an attitude that the Lord himself loves, and desires to place deep into the heart of His children.