Servanthood is a measure of greatness
Woven throughout the teachings of Jesus is a theme that many overlook. It’s the theme of “Servanthood.” Several times in the New Testament the disciples of Jesus argue about their position and who’s the greatest. Once James and John actually sent their mother to help secure a place of prominence for them in heaven. But Jesus used their arguing to teach them about, “The greatest in the kingdom.”
Luke 9:46-48, “An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus…took a little child…then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all — he is the greatest .”
Picture the scene with me. Jesus’ key guys are arguing about their own self worth. Earlier he had empowered them to heal, deliver and preach the gospel. Perhaps they were comparing notes about who did the biggest miracles and now they’re thinking that somehow they had achieved greatness. That’s almost comical. God was the one who gave them whatever abilities they had, and they want to take credit for it.
So Jesus tells them the “least is the greatest” or as he says in another place, “the one who serves is greater than the one being served.” The Apostle Paul understood that principle and expanded on it, the principle; “That the way up in God’s kingdom is to work your way to the bottom.”
Romans 12:3, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
Paul says “don’t get a big head about anything you are or you do.” It’s all from God, it’s the measure of faith (or talent) that God has given you. So what’s the Christian to do?
The servanthood Jesus preached about is not just theoretical, but practical and something he demonstrated as an example of how to live. The very night he was arrested and knowing that crucifixion was just hours before him, Jesus did an amazing thing, he exampled servanthood and gave his men a lesson on love.
In that culture it was a common to wash the feet of a guest in your home. If you were wealthy it was a job for your servant. But that night Jesus washed the feet of his men giving them a lesson on greatness.
John 13:12-17 states, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” … “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so… Now that I…have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Jesus said, humble yourself and be a servant to others and that’s when greatness comes. Today we don’t wash feet, but you do serve your spouse, your children, your church, your community and when you do – you’re serving God by showing servanthood.
Pastor Rich Lammay of High Sierra Fellowship is a member of Carson Valley Ministers’ Association.