One of the beautiful portrayals of a gospel-centered life in Scripture is servanthood. The true servant lives to please others, especially his master. He is happy and blessed to be of service to his own lord. He accepts willingly his lot in life. He loves it. He’s willing to die doing the best he can do – to put the welfare of the one he serves ahead of his own.
There is no person in the whole Bible who better exemplifies servanthood than Jesus Christ. He is ‘the’ servant of the Lord, whom the prophet Isaiah foretold of in at least four different parts of his prophetic book (Isaiah 42:1–9; Isaiah 49:1–13; Isaiah 50:4–11; and Isaiah 52:13—53:12). In another one of those prophecies Jesus is described as the Lord’s servant who “took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4a). Isaiah further says that “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (v. 5).
Indeed our Lord Jesus Christ is the ultimate servant of God who did everything to obey the will of His Father, pleasing Him. Although He was God, He “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7).
In serving His God and Father, Jesus did not shrink from facing the ultimate task He was called to do. He obeyed the Father even in suffering and in dying a cruel death at the cross for the sake of the people whom the Father has given Him (Philippians 2:8; cf. John 6:37-40; John 10:14-15; Hebrews 5:8). Christ sacrificed Himself to the glory of God! And because of His perfect obedience “God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:9a).
It may not be obvious to many of us. However, if you pay careful attention to the way the Scripture portrays the ‘excellent wife’ in Proverbs 31, she is also described as a true self-sacrificing servant.
One author makes this observation regarding the Proverbs 31 woman: “One of the things that strikes me most about the ‘virtuous woman’ of Proverbs 31 is the fact that she is so utterly selfless. She isn’t focused on advancing her career, padding her bank account, or being known for her personal accomplishments. To the contrary, she seems essentially unconcerned about her own interests, choosing instead to concentrate on how she can meet the practical needs of her husband and children as well as others in her community.
“One might be tempted to call her an oppressed breed, the way many homemakers have been labeled today. And yet take a fresh look at her. She is well-dressed, has plenty of food to eat, and enjoys a well-ordered, emotionally stable life. She doesn’t sit around worrying about the future or fearing what might go wrong. Instead she is secure and content!
“But how did she attain all these benefits? Not by insisting that her husband roll up his sleeves and do his fair share of the household chores (although there’s certainly nothing wrong with men helping out in the home!), but by choosing the pathway of servanthood – by making the needs of her family her chief priority, second only to her relationship with God.”
This author then makes this very heartwarming conclusion that applies to all of us saying, “We are never more like Jesus than when we are serving Him and others. There is no higher calling than to be a servant” (Nancy Leigh DeMoss, “The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings,” April 8).