|Uhuru Garden in Mombasa|
The following excerpts are from the book - Improving Your Serve, by Chuck Swindoll.
Thank you for "reading between the lines" to know how to pray for me this month!
MONUMENT OF ME
We’re going to assault that monument. We are going to give our full attention to what it means to be different:
Not a getter, but a giver
Not one who holds a grudge, but a forgiver
Not one who keeps score, but a forgetter
Not a superstar, but a servant
There is a telltale sign of authentic servant-giving. It is impossible to give ourselves to others at arm’s length or in abstentia. Personal involvement is essential - not incidental - and it usually involves adapting our ways and schedules to fit into other’s needs… Being a person who genuinely and personally gives to others calls for a plentiful supply of flexibility… Authentic servanthood calls for people with a passion for giving whatever without recognition, without reservation, without reluctance, and without restriction.
We are never more like God than when we give. John 3:16
“[Mercy] does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the word; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for someone in trouble. Chesedh - mercy - means the ability to get right inside the other person’s skin… Clearly this is much more than an emotional wave of pity; clearly this demands a quite deliberate effort to of the mind and of the will. It denotes a sympathy which is not given from outside, but which comes from a deliberate identification with the other person, until we see things as he sees them, and feel things as he feels them. (Mt. 5:7)”
- William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew
Those special servants of God who extend mercy to the miserable often do so with much encouragement because they identify with the sorrowing - they “get inside their skin”. Rather than watching from a distance or keeping the needy safely at arm’s length, they get in touch, involved, and offer assistance that alleviates some of the pain.
True servants are merciful. They care. They get involved. They get dirty, if necessary. They offer more than pious words. James 2:15, 16; 1 John 3:17
This is exactly what Jesus, our Savior, did for us when he came to earth. By becoming human, he got right inside our skin - literally. That made it possible for him to see life through our eyes, feel the sting of our pain, and identify with the anguish of human need. He understands. Mark 10:45
“Pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8) does not refer simply to doing the right things, but doing the right things for the right reason. God desires his servants to be “real” people - authentic to the core… The term pure literally means “clean”. It’s the idea of being uncontaminated without corruption or alloy. Without guile - sincere and honest in motive.
THE PERILS OF A SERVANT – THREE MISCONCEPTIONS:
1) Servants have special powers in themselves. 2 Corinthians 4:4-7
How very easy it is to look at God’s servants through rose-colored glasses! - almost as if they possess a mystical, divine unction of some angelic “mantle” that causes them to ooze with supernatural, heaven-sent power (2 Corinthians 3:5). But this is wrong! Servants are absolutely human, filled with all the weaknesses and potential for failure that characterize every other human being.
2) Servants don’t struggle with everyday problems. 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9
Afflicted. Perplexed. Persecuted. Struck down… Under stress, confused, pursued, rejected. Paul (and every servant since his day) understands what it means to endure the constant blast of problems… it is in the crucible that the servant learns to release his way for God’s way. Servants do indeed struggle with daily difficulties.
3) Servants are protected against subtle dangers. 2 Corinthians 4:10, 11
People who serve God and others “carry about in the body” signs of death - dangers and perils that are undeniable. Subtle and silent, these dangers lurk in the most unexpected places, pleading for satisfaction. The true servant is vulnerable.
“Although [the godly leader] is by no means immune to the temptations of the flesh, the dangers most to be guarded against lie in the realm of the spirit. He must remember that “sabbath-less Satan” - his relentless enemy - will take advantage of every inch of ground he concedes in any area of his life.”
- J.Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership
Servants - no matter how useful, godly, unselfish, and admirable - are every bit as human and subject to the perils of life as any other person on earth.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
- Philippians 2: 3, 4
Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.
- Hebrews 10:24
(I'll share more excerpts from this book in two short weeks. Stay tuned!)