If you’ve gotten this far in these readings, you’ve become aware of a paradox. A paradox, according to one dictionary, is a “seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true: [for example:] the paradox that standing is more tiring than walking.”
The servanthood paradox is this: Servanthood is an involuntary response to Jesus Christ. Servanthood is also the chosen lifestyle of those who want to follow Christ.
In spite of the seeming contradiction, most Christians would affirm both of the preceding statements. We take no credit for the good we do; that’s Christ living in us. But without daily decisions to give our lives to Christ--to say, “Yes” to Him, He wouldn’t live in us.
So, how do we say, “Yes” to Christ’s call to servanthood? Richard Foster says we do this when, not for the sake of looking good, but for the love of Christ, we choose each day to serve others in Christ’s Name and do so in hidden ways. Foster uses the New Testament word for our sinful human impulses, the flesh, to describe the war that all who surrender to Christ wage in order to crucify the old sinful self and to rise as a true servants of God:
“The flesh whines against service but screams against hidden service. It strains and pulls for honor and recognition. It will devise subtle, religiously acceptable means to call attention to the service rendered. If we stoutly refuse to give in to this lust of the flesh, we crucify it. Every time we crucify the flesh, we crucify our pride and arrogance.”If you’re intent on taking the hard and God-blessed path of servanthood, you might want to pray this prayer each day, “Jesus, help me serve not for the compliments of others, but to glorify You and to help others.” Then, do more than pray about it; work at it! This is how you can cultivate servanthood as a way of life!
Bible Passage to Ponder: “Practically everything that goes on in the world--wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important--has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out--but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” (First John 2:16, The Message)