Following all the heroes of the Old and New Testaments we aspire to be servants of God. From Abraham to Moses, from David to Isaiah, from Mary to John the Baptist, from Peter to Paul, we have prime examples of those men and women who heard the voice of God and followed it as best as they could. They were not always perfect, witness Moses and David, but they still stand as outstanding examples of people being servants of God. Perhaps Mary, Jesus’s mother, best described the basic attitude of a servant towards God: “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.” [Luke 1:38 MSG]
These are the major attributes of servants of God, be they men or women:
1)They are thankful. David’s psalms are full of thanksgiving and joy.
2)They are people of prayer. Like Jesus they are always going off to be alone with God. [e.g. Luke 5:16]
3)They are completely surrendered to God’s will. AS Jesus says in Mark 8:35, “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and the gospel will save it.”
4)In serving God they serve others. Matthew 25:31-46 brings this message home four times—in serving others we are actually serving Jesus.
5)They are humble and selfless. In 1 Peter 3:8 the epistle writer expounds on this: “be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.”
It is one of the great paradoxes offered in the Bible that servanthood brings us freedom. If we love God with all of ourselves and seek above all to do his will, we are freed of all the bonds of slavery to the world, from the outer referencing of our lives to discovering our own true selves, from attachment to the material stuff and to money as the one vehicle for happiness, from the egotism of the world to living in love and forgiveness, from our identity in the world to our true identity in God. The deeper we go into a relationship with God, the freer we become to be the way God created us to be. With God’s help we throw off the shackles of the world’s ways and experience the lightness of being in God, “for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:30]
What must it have been like to have been Abraham, to leave his homeland and to follow God? Or to put his most precious son on the altar to God? How did Moses stay true to God and make only one error in following God’s directions in forty years in the wilderness? What was it like when he met with God on Mount Sinai or in the tent of meeting and emerged with his face blindingly aglow? How did Joshua know God so well? How did he lead the Israelites through all kinds of battles in Canaan, always in obedience to God’s word?
How did David overcome Goliath? How did he rule as king? And then order Uriah killed? How did the prophet Isaiah prophesize for some 60 years?
What did Mary experience when Gabriel told her she was to bear a child and she said, “Yes?” When she asked, “how can this be when I am not married?” She was there on Calgary with her precious son dying on the cross? How did she bear it?
And with Paul—what was in the encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus that made him turn his life around? To give up persecuting the Jews and then to not only join the new sect, but to promote it throughout the Mediterranean?
For all these servants of the Lord we do not always have the back story of God’s help, inspiration, comfort, challenge and assignments; we see mostly the effects of all of God’s help. Still I think we can rest assured in all the Biblical promises that, no matter what God asks of us, He will be equipping us with exactly what we need to carry out his will. To just take Moses as an example, those two long sojourns of 40 days on Mount Sinai with the Lord, the daily encounters with God in the tent of meeting, the clear directions from God on what he was to say to the Israelites are proof that God provides all that we need to do his work for as long as we are so empowered, in Moses’ case over forty years in the wilderness. It might sound like punishment for Moses when God told him he would not be crossing the Jordan River.
He had made one simple mistake at Meribah where he struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God had instructed in order to release the water for the Israelites. [Numbers 20:1-13] But Moses had faithfully served God as his spokesman and leader for those forty years. He was at the end of his life—120 years old. And he was called “the servant of God” by God after he died in Joshua 1:1-2. As Joshua was also called the servant of God before his death in Joshua 24:29.
Whether the person placing his/her life in God’s hands is perfect like Joshua or not like Moses is not the point. God uses those He calls and all that they are. And He called both servants of God.
We can take heart in all these Biblical figures and their responses to God, in our own calling from God, that He will be standing at our side lending whatever support we need in order to carry out our calling. We don’t have to worry about our own perfection—that’s in God’s hands.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I grateful to God in everything? Am I in constant contact with God in prayer? Am I surrendered to his will totally? Do I serve God through serving others? Am I humble and selfless? What do I need to do to come into the right relationship with God? What is it like for me living in total dependence on God?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God whom He would call his servants. May we serve God in everything that we do. May we have surrendered our lives completely to God.
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