It is inherent within the human heart, to want to be served rather than to serve. There is nothing in all of Scripture which commands us or even alludes to us as believers needing to put self-first. Instead, the opposite is true 2 Tim. 3:2; Phil. 2:21). We are repeatedly told to be like Christ, by putting self to death; by loving our fellow man at cost to self; by regarding others as being more significant an important than self. In fact, the amount of commands for us to crucify our own flesh, has got to get us to see that we, even as believers have an unhealthy interest in putting self-first.
Jesus spent three years developing His own disciples into men who like Himself, lived not for self, but to do the will of God by laying down their lives for others (1 Corinthians 4:8-13 and 2 Corinthians 4:8-12). But it wasn’t always the case that these men were dead to self-interest and self-love. In fact, they had what most people naturally have apart from the sanctifying work of the Father in their life (John15) self-love and self-interest. Not only was the problem a naturally occurring reality of the human heart, but they had only ever seen and learnt from the example of the religious leaders of the day, who were authoritarian in their leadership. This autocratic style of leadership, caused the disciples to not want to be continually forgiving toward others (Luke 17) and because of their elevated view of self, they were unable to serve their Lord and brothers, as they felt that such tasks were beneath them (John 13:12-15).
On one occasion (Matthew 20:25-28) James and John, sent their mother to Jesus asking Him if her two sons might have the seat of honour and authority at either side of Him in His coming Kingdom. Jesus lovingly rebukes her and her sons’ worldly heart attitude by saying, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Those wonderful words, “It shall not be so among you” set the drastic contrast that must exist between Christian leadership and servanthood, with worldly self-seeking service. The way that Jesus transformed these men, was to lay a solid foundation of truth in their lives, then He modelled for them how it was that one is to live out those truths. Finally, to soften their hearts and open their ears, He in His sovereignty, allowed opposition, hardship and suffering in their lives, to bring them low in order to remove from their lives, the rough edges of pride and self-love.
The Lord tells all believers through the words of Scripture that His great desire wasn’t just to change 12 men, but to change all believers. God’s will for us is that we all might be continually growing and changing into selfless servants of God, who are daily laying down their lives for Christ and one another. This can only be done, when self is living and remaining on the cross. We have been crucified with Christ, we have died with Him and have been raised in newness of life; our life is actually not our own, for we have been bought with the blood of Christ.
Consider some additional thoughts to help with this process:
Remember that you are to do all that you do as unto Christ, not man. Col. 3:23-24
Be disciplined and make sure that you are feeding off of Christ every day, for each day. John 15:5
Never turn down an offer to serve and be willing to do any small, insignificant, behind the scenes task, for this is pleasing to God.
Have the mindset, that your brothers and sisters in Christ are precious to Him, so love them, for they are His precious possession.
Realize that all of your actions and attitudes toward even the most insignificant of believers are done directly to Jesus Christ Himself Matthew 25:31-46
May this be a blessing to you!
The Pastor's Desk