Which would you rather be: a student or the teacher, one of thousands of employees of a Fortune 500 company or the CEO, a slave or the master? Most of us would quickly agree that we would much rather be the teacher, the boss, or the master. Aren’t they the ones who benefit from the time and sweat of others?
But that’s not the way it works in our relationship with Jesus. Paul wrote, “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ” (1 Cor. 4:1). The apostle told servants in Ephesus to obey their masters “like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart” (Eph. 6:6). Who benefits, Jesus, the master, or we, the servants? Our sinful nature wants to take credit for serving God, as though He benefits from our work and so really owes us something in return. The Pharisee in the temple boasted to God about his fasting and tithing and how superior he was to the tax collector. It’s tempting to take pride in all the ways we serve. I go to church every week, teach Sunday school, serve on committees, and volunteer wherever there’s a need. Look at all I’m doing for the Lord!
But being Jesus’ servant is far more about what He has done than what we do. He is the one who lived a perfect life in our place. He is the one who sacrificed Himself on the cross in payment for all our guilt. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). He is the one who draws us to Himself through the Spirit’s work. Serving Jesus is praising His work, not ours. It is receiving infinitely more from Him than the imperfect, meager things we offer to Him. We are saved by God’s grace in Christ alone, not by anything we do.
That doesn’t mean we should downplay or neglect our works of service. Encouraging fellow believers, reaching out to those you haven’t seen in church for a while, helping with VBS, cleaning the church or mowing the lawn, obeying parents, and taking our responsibilities seriously as citizens of the U.S. are all important. They are important, not as salvation-earning works, but as joyful fruits of faith for salvation already won and received through Jesus.
The Lord in His grace has called us to be His servants, servants who receive forgiveness, peace, and everlasting life as a free gift. What else would we possibly want to be? What else could be better than being Jesus’ servant and an heir of heaven?
Yours in Christ,