"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can most be used in winning souls for Christ."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunday School Message #7

Introduction: Let’s begin… Today we’re studying the 6th point of our study on “How to Think Like Jesus”. We have talked about having “A Heart for the Lost”, “A Heart for Prayer”, “A Heart for God’s Will”, “A Heart for Others”, and “A Heart for Purity”. What we’re going to study today is similar to “A Heart for Others”, but instead of focusing just on humility, we’re going to focus on service. In order to think like Jesus, we must have “A Heart for Service”.

7. A Heart for Service – Sacrifice

a. Matt.23:11
Let’s look first of all at a very brief passage that gives us Christ’s view of greatness. “But He that is great…” How contrary this is to the world’s thinking. I mean think about our society today. In a typical business, who has to do the lowest jobs of service? It is those who are least important, right? It’s the janitors, the maintenance people, or the trash collectors. Those people who are “the greatest” in the business are those with the big offices, the fancy suits, the personal assistants, and the large salaries. This is the way of the world. Our Lord has a different view. He says, “If you want to be the greatest in my eyes – in the kingdom of heaven – you should be the servant of all.”This type of thinking is not natural for us, but is a very important part of our lives as Christians. We need to develop a pattern of thinking where we seek the lowest position and serve everyone around us. Let’s continue on to see what other things the Bible says about being a servant.

b. Mk.9:33-35
In this story, we see Jesus’ disciples expressing this same view that we typically have when it comes to greatness. Somebody read this passage for us, please. “And He came…” Notice two things from this passage. First, did you notice that when the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest, it was just amongst themselves? Jesus was not included in that conversation. Do you know why I believe that is? It is because they had seen such a different example in their Lord. They had not seen Him trying to be the greatest. Rather, they saw Him being the servant of all. And second, notice that Jesus already knew what they were talking about. You know, there is something important about the timing of correcting or confronting a person who is wrong. I remember my parents doing this often when I was young. Jesus let them finish their conversation. He let them argue about who was the greatest and why they thought they should have the best positions in the kingdom of heaven. Then once they had fully exposed their true heart motives, Jesus says, “So what were you guys talking about?” And look, they didn’t answer Him. So look at verse 35, “He sat them down…” and taught them this principle. “If any man…”

c. Mt.20:20-28; Mk.10:42-45
Notice now, this next passage. This thinking was not only how Jesus’ disciples thought, but now we see it in one of their mothers. There are actually two different passage that record this story – one in Matthew and one in Mark. We’re going to read the one in Matthew 20. “Then came…” This story always makes me laugh a little, because it sounds just like something a mother would do. It is the mother of James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples. She comes to Jesus and basically asks him to do favor for her. She then asks that her two sons would be able to sit on Jesus’ right hand and left hand in the kingdom of heaven. Now you have to remember that during all of this time, the disciples were believing that Jesus was getting ready to establish His kingdom on earth and destroy the Romans who had taken over control of their land. Also, we need to understand that in the culture of that time, to sit at the right or left hand of the king was the highest position of leadership one could achieve. So basically, James and John and their mother were asking Jesus if they could have the two highest places of authority in the kingdom. And notice also in verse 24, that this request made the other disciples angry. They, too, wanted the best positions for themselves. Jesus’ reply was, “You know not…” Jesus basically says, “Look, I know that you’ve seen that example set by the leadership of the Gentiles, but that’s not the way it is in the kingdom of heaven.” And then Jesus uses the example of His own life as the example of how we should serve.

d. Jn.12:26
This next passage is very short, but I think it’s important for us to see it. This is our Lord telling us to follow the example that He has set for us. He says, “If any man…” We have studied in every point of this study that we must follow the example of Jesus. Well, here, Jesus Himself tells us to follow His example, and He gives us a promise as well. He says at the end of the verse, “…if any man…”

e. Lk.10:38-42; Ps.51:16; I Sam.15:22
Now as we are studying about service, we need to make sure that we have a biblical view of service. What I mean is that “service is not the most important thing in our spiritual lives. We see in Psalms that God is more interested in the condition of our hearts than our external behavior. David says, “For thou desirest not…” The prophet Samuel says in the Old Testament, “Hath the Lord…” We have noticed many times that Jesus scolded the Pharisees because they were righteous on the outside and wicked on the inside. Look, now at this story in Luke 10. Somebody read verses 38-42 for us, please. What happened in this story? Jesus comes to visit his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus who lived in the town of Bethany. When He arrives, Martha is busy preparing the dinner, cleaning the house, and trying to serve Jesus. However, Mary is just sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him. Now we would typically look at Martha and say, “What a hard worker she is! She is such a good servant to Jesus.” But look at what happened. She goes to Jesus and says, “Lord, dost thou…” And Jesus’ response to her is, “Martha, Martha…” He said that Mary had chosen the better part. So that means that Jesus would rather Martha just come and spend time with Him than to be busy serving Him.

This is a very important point for us to remember. God wants for us to serve. We are to serve God. We are to serve others. We are to serve in the church. But in the midst of all the work, we must remember that it is more important to spend time at the feet of our Lord Jesus! Someone once said, “Do not get so busy with the work of the Lord that you forget about the Lord of the work.” Jesus talks in John 14 about how we must abide in Him each day if we are to bear fruit in our spiritual lives. Your daily time with God in His Word and prayer is the most important aspect of your life as a Christian. Once that is done, we are then to follow Christ’s example as a servant of all.

f. Lk.22:27;Jn.13:3-17
This next passage, I believe, is the most powerful of all. I want all of you to turn there, if you would. We’re going to read John 13. Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 22:27, “I am among…” And then in this powerful passage, He demonstrates it. As we read this story, I want you to imagine that you are one of Jesus’ disciples. “Jesus knowing that…” Ok, imagine this scene. You are one of the 12 disciples. You have been following Jesus for 3 years now. You have seen Him do countless miracles. You have heard Him teach the Scriptures. But tonight, He seems different. You sense that something big is about to happen. He has told you things that you don’t understand, saying He is about to be given over to the Pharisees and killed. You have just finished eating the Passover dinner, which is always a special time with Jesus. But as dinner finishes, you see Jesus take a towel and a bowl of water and begin to wash the feet of the other men. “What was He doing? He shouldn’t be doing this! This is the job of a servant. He is our Lord. I don’t want Him to wash my feet! They’re dirty and they probably smell bad. He doesn’t deserve such a low position.” As if it wasn’t low enough for the God of the universe to come to earth as a human, He lowered himself further by taking the lowest position known to men – to be the servant of all men.

This man was our example. Christ was the ultimate servant. But you know what? I prefer a different title. I don’t like to be called a servant. The word is “a slave”. “Slave” is the word in the original Greek text. Do you see the difference? A servant is one who places himself in a position to serve another. A slave is one who is owned. A slave has no choice. A slave must do what his master commands. A slave has been purchased by his master. So as Christians, we are slaves of Jesus Christ!

g. Gal.5:13
One more passage and we’re finished. It’s very short and very simple. The Bible says, “…by love serve one another.” So who are we to serve? The Bible says we are to serve God first and above all others. And then we are to serve those around us – that means everyone. Young or old, rich or poor, white or black, saved or unsaved – we are to serve all men. Remember what Jesus said are the two greatest commandments – Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. All of the commandments are fulfilled in these two.

Here is the bottom line. We Christians need to develop what is called a “Servant’s Heart”. It is a state of mind. It is not something that we do from time to time. It is an attitude that we live with every day. It is a way of living that says, “Everybody else is better than I. I should serve them in every way I can.” This is how Jesus lived.

Conclusion: If we are going to think like Christ, we must follow his example and serve others in every way we can, every chance we get. Jesus was the ultimate servant. Remember His words: “Whoever shall be greatest among you shall be your servant.” Let’s pray…

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