Have you ever thought when you were younger, “When I grow up, I want to be a servant”?
In my campus Bible Study we often use as an ice-breaker the question: as a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? After the giggles and the laughter, we usually hear: doctor or firefighter or pilot or mother, and sometimes there’s even an answer like, “trash man – because it would be fun to drive that truck around all day!”.
But never have I heard our students say “When I was a kid, I wanted to be a servant when I grew up.” There is something in a man that wants to be something and do something. I’ve heard it said that men want to know something so they can do something that they would be something.
Servants don’t get that luxury. Being a servant means you don’t get to be something of your own accord. It means you don’t choose your own way or do your own thing. It means you report to someone else and give up your freedom for their sake. Jesus Christ showed us the first pattern of one who willingly served. Mark 10:45 and Romans 15:8 come to mind.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.
For I say that Christ has become a servant of the circumcision for the sake of God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and that the Gentiles should glorify God for His mercy…
As we finish this semester, we happen to be reading through 1 Corinthians. This time through I’ve been praying over these statements:
Paul, a called apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Sosthenes the brother
1 Corinthians 1:1
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to announce the gospel, not in wisdom of speech that the cross of Christ may not be made void.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
But you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
A man should account us in this way, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
At first glance, we may think of Paul as the most “in-charge” apostle; he’s the one who has the last say. on everything. But that is not the tone we get from reading 1 Corinthians. His place among them seemed difficult, if not humanly impossible. It’s here he was in weakness and in fear (2:3). It’s here he was a fool because of Christ (4:10). Here he reveals “all that it meaneth” to be the Lord’s, all it involves of love and loyalty.
Here are 5 points on Paul as a servant of Christ in his evangelization of Corinth from chapters 1 and 2:
1. His serving Christ did not stem from his volunteering, but from Christ calling him – 1:1
2. His going to Corinth was not of his volition; Christ sent him – 1:17
3. He could not change the gospel to better attract Jews or Greeks at large, but only speak of Christ crucified – 1:23
4. He did not speak excellently nor use persuasive words of wisdom among the Corinthians, but demonstrated the Spirit and power – 2:1,4
5. He did not determine to know anything among the Corinthians except Christ crucified – 2:2
In Paul’s pattern in Corinth we see someone who served Christ. We don’t get a whiff of anyone using Christ for his own means. He fully realized that all things (all people, events, time, and space included, which is everything) belonged to the believers, and that they themselves belonged to Christ, and Christ to God. He did not need the believers to be “of Paul”, for he was a servant of Christ.
Then beginning in chapter four he reveals that he should be accounted as a servant of Christ, and a steward of the mysteries of God.
The note in the Recovery Version on servants says:
An attendant or appointed servant, an official servant appointed specifically for a certain purpose.
Since all things are for Christ and Christ is for God, all Paul could be was a servant of Christ.