05 November 2010

Improving Your Serve, by Chuck Swindoll, Part 2

No servant is completely safe. We who give and give become increasingly more vulnerable as time passes. There are times we’ll get ripped off. We will be used. We will feel unappreciated. But realizing ahead of time this will happen, we are better equipped to handle it when it comes. Lean hard on the Master when you serve others.

Most deeds will be initially unrewarded. If you are the type who needs a lot of strokes from people, who has to be appreciated before you can continue very long, you’d better forget about being a servant. More often than not, you will be overlooked, passed up, behind the scenes, and virtually unknown. Your reward will not come from without, but from within. Not from people, but from the satisfaction God gives you on the inside.

All motives must be honestly searched. Before jumping, think to ask why. Before accepting any tangible gift of gratitude, probe into your reason for doing so. Check your motive. Why am I planning this? What’s the reason behind doing that? Why am I excited over this opportunity? What causes me to bring up that subject?

I find it extremely significant that when Jesus (Matt. 11:29) gives us a glimpse of the real stuff of his inner person, he uses gentle and humble. Those are servant terms. We are never more like Christ than when we fit into his description of himself. And how do those things reveal themselves? In our obedience. Servanthood and obedience go together.

You will give, forgive, forget, release your own will, obey God to the maximum, and wash dirty feet with an attitude of gentleness and humility. And after all those beautiful things, you will get ripped off occasionally. If we serve others long enough, we will suffer wrong treatment for doing right things.
(1 Peter 2:20-24; 1 Peter 3:17, 18; Hebrews 11:35-39)

Paul lists four common struggles servants live with - 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9
  • Affliction – suggests idea of pressure or stress brought on by different circumstances or antagonistic people
  • Confusion – perplexed, without a way, confusion (not knowing where or to whom to turn for help)
  • Persecution – being chased, having others “on our case”; conveys being intimidated, assaulted, or attacked. Servants will suffer persecution.
  • Rejection – struck down, shoved aside, or cast off. Even though we may faithfully and consistently do our job, help, serve, and give to others, we can expect on occasion to be thrown aside and rejected.

Truths to claim
Here is the 1st truth to claim when enduring the consequences of suffering:
Nothing touches me that has not passed through the hands of my heavenly Father. Nothing.

The 2nd truth to claim is this:
Everything I endure is designed to prepare me for serving others more effectively. Everything.

Rewards of serving
1 Corinthians 3:13 – The fire will test the quality of each man’s work. We humans are impressed with size and volume and noise and numbers. It is easy to forget that God’s eye is always on motive, authenticity, the real truth beneath the surface, never the external splash. When he rewards servants, it will be based on quality - which means everybody has an equal opportunity to receive a reward.

You can be a “nobody” in the eyes of this world and your faithful God will, someday, reward your every act of servanthood.

Hebrews 6:10 - 12 - For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we want each of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

God remembers our work - each individual act. He takes note of the love within us that prompted the deed. We forget, but God remembers. We see the action; God sees the motive.

Even the best of servants get weary. The Lord’s desire is to encourage us to be diligent and to trust him in spite of the demands.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. Galatians 6:9, 10

When we have done what was needed, but were ignored, misunderstood, or forgotten… we can be sure it was NOT IN VAIN. When we did what was right, with the right motive, but received no credit, no acknowledgment, not even a “thank you”… we have God’s promise WE SHALL REAP. When any servant has served and given and sacrificed, and then willingly stepped aside for God to receive the glory, our heavenly Father promises HE WILL RECEIVE BACK. (1 Cor. 15:58; Eph. 6:7, 8)

Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward. Matthew 10:42

These words tell us that “improving our serve” begins with little things. It begins with thoughtful things - an understanding embrace of one who is hurting, a brief note to one who is lonely and feeling unappreciated and forgotten, a cup of cool water for one whose lips are parched from the hot blast of a barren desert when all seems futile and worthless. God takes special notice of all these efforts.
(Matt. 25:31-40)

  • Every act of servanthood - no matter how small or large - will be remembered by God.
  • God takes special note of the heart - he knows the love behind our actions.
  • As servants reach out to others, Christ’s life is modeled and a spirit of thankfulness is stimulated.
  • Special and specific rewards are reserved in heaven for those who practice the art of unselfish living.
Since Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took upon himself the role of a servant, so must we. The one who could have been or done anything, consciously and voluntarily, chose to be one who served, one who gave. So then, if we are to become increasingly more like Christ then we, too, are to give and to serve.

May God honor his name as you and I commit ourselves anew to improving our serve, to cultivating the art of unselfish living, serving, and giving to others. Like Jesus Christ.


karen newton said...

Thanks so much for posting this on being a servant. I have a whole family of them and know from experience that serving is done behind the scenes and God is the one who remembers. If you are a servant from the heart, you don't need acclaim, just opportunity. God gives satisfaction and renews the energy and heart to serve again. Love you, thanks

Anonymous said...

I especially liked the reminder that it is not in vain ... even if it seems no one has benefitted from your efforts!

Anonymous said...

I liked the excerpts from Chuck Swindall's book. Even those of us not in foreign ministry can benefit from this on servanthood. Peggy

Rose Kendall said...

I needed this. As you know, my mom has moved in with me. She is going blind, had two bad hips (old surgeries), uses a walker, broke one arm, can't hear well, and on and on. She loves the Lord, BUT...she needs so much! And the BEST REAL PLEASURE I feel is when I am serving her, bathing her, feeding her, helping her in the bathroom. I can FEEL God's smiling joy as I do this in His Name. There is no one to say "thanks" except her, but I know God loves to see this - and that makes me happy. I am one of the happiest people I know! I AM A SERVANT!!!

Love you Deb!