Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” -MLK 1957
I’m saved by his service. I’m saved for his service!
Good morning again, Life Center family. I am very excited to share the Word of God with you this morning. We are continuing our series called The Deeper Life, and today, we’re talking about one of the ways that the early Church, the first Christians and Christians through all centuries have experienced the deeper life, the full life that Jesus came to bring us, and we’re going to talk about that in just a moment. I first want to start with a verse, it’s 2 Corinthians 5:17. It says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old has gone, and the new is here.”
If you’re in Christ, if you’ve believed in Jesus, if you put your life in Jesus’ hands, you are a new creation. The old you is gone, and a new you is here. God calls you a new creation in Jesus. God never calls believers normal in the Bible, and if you’ve ever met very many Christians, you’re like, “That’s pretty accurate, not very normal.” Like God does call us lots of things in the Bible.
He calls us salt and light, chosen, elected, selected, anointed, beloved, and His masterpieces. All of these terms that scripture uses are used to depict our difference from the world around us. God has made us into new creations. Dr. Dharius Daniels says that, “To be different from the world is to be normal as a Christian.” We are new creations in Jesus, which means that we are different in nature than what we used to be.
I was spiritually dead, but now, I am fully alive in Jesus. We were slaves to sin, but we have been freed to serve Jesus joyfully. You, you, you were far from Jesus, but now you’re intimately connected to Him because of His work. You and I are different in nature now because of what Jesus has done, and whatever is different in nature is different in purpose. Whatever is different in nature is different in purpose.
I’ve got two things here. I’ve got an iPad and a cutting board. Now, they are very similar in form, are they not?
They’re almost the same width, almost the same length, height. I mean, these are very similar in form, but they’re very different in function. I hope you know that. Like if you try to use your iPad as a cutting board, it’s going to work as a cutting board, but it won’t work as an iPad anymore. Now, if you look at this and you go, “Yeah, I think I’ll use this for a little bit as a cutting board,” you’re using it for the wrong thing because this is different in nature, which means it’s different in function, it’s different in purpose, and it’s different in capabilities.
The iPad can do a lot more than the cutting board, right, because it’s different on the inside. See, when you are made a new creation by Jesus, you become different on the inside. You are far different in capability, in function, in purpose than what you used to be, and what you used to be was something like this, that was one-dimensional, but because of Jesus, you’ve been made three-dimensional. You’ve been given far more capability, far more purpose because of Jesus. The old nature that we had was to serve ourselves.
That was the purpose of our sinful nature, was to serve ourselves, to make us great for our own happiness. Sinful nature always serves itself. We are like black holes, consuming everything for our own happiness, and pleasure, and greatness, but our new nature in Jesus, our purpose has been transformed because we are now different in nature. We are different in purpose because of what Jesus has done for us. Our nature is no longer to serve ourselves, to serve our own success or our own greatness, we now, and this is the big idea, we are now saved to serve Jesus and others. I am saved to serve Jesus and others, and so are you. Listen to this, “You’ve been cleansed to serve God.”
Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from the acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God.” You’ve been gifted to serve others. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,” so we’ve been cleansed to serve God, we’ve been gifted to serve others, and you will be blessed when you serve, when you walk into this purpose that God has for you. Deuteronomy 11:13-15, God tells the Israelites and He tells us, He says, “So if you faithfully obey the commands I’m giving you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rain so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”
He tells this farming culture that, “If you will serve me, I will send rain when you need it, I’ll give you food, I’ll feed your cattle, I’ll give you everything you need.” He’s telling us as well that if we will serve Him like He’s created us to, with all of our heart and with all of our soul, that He is going to bless us with everything we need for life and godliness, that He’s going to refresh us, that He is going to encourage us, and that we will be fully alive when we are serving God and others. Do you believe that, Church?
This is how God purposed us. We’re different in nature. Now, we are different in purpose, and one of the ways that we get to serve God is with our money, so I’m going to invite the ushers to come to receive today’s tithes and offerings. If that wasn’t a joke, I don’t know why you think that’s funny, but I’m glad you think it’s funny. Honestly, I am so grateful that I get to partner with my family, with my friends, with my mission group, and with all of you to serve God and others with our generosity.
You are sitting here today because someone, many years ago was faithful to God, served Him with their money, and because of that, God was able to use that to impact your life in this current moment, and someday, someone is going to be sitting here, someone is going to be out in the community, and they’re going to be impacted by the work of God through this Church, through us because of your generosity. I’m just grateful to get to partner with you in serving Jesus and others to transform our city and the hearts of the people we love. We live in a self-serve world, but we are different in nature. We are purposed to serve God. We’re made to serve Him.
I was reading Luke 19 this week. How many of you are doing the Bible Reading Plan journal with us? Yeah, awesome. Hey, if you aren’t, we just started the book of Acts yesterday. That’s in the New Testament, everything that the apostles did after Jesus ascended to heaven.
If you’d like to read along with us, you can go to the Welcome Center and get a Bible Reading Plan guide. It will give you all the scriptures and the videos that you need to read to follow along with the rest of us as we’re following Jesus and learning to do what He’s commanded us to do, building that relationship with Him. I was reading in Luke 19 on Tuesday, and there’s a story in Luke 19 where Jesus goes into the temple, and He sees people who are selling different animals for sacrifices and who are exchanging money, but these people who are selling animals and exchanging money are making a profit. They’re robbing the people who are coming to offer sacrifices and praise to God, and so Jesus drives them out of the temple. In one of the other gospels, it says that Jesus took a whip and started driving them out of the temple.
This is not the Jesus we talk about in Sunday school, is it? This is intense, He’s pushing them out, physical altercation that Jesus is entering into, to push these people out because He said, “My house is to be a House of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers or den of thieves.”
As I read this, I said, “God, I know that I am Your temple and that we are Your temple, so God, what do You want to push out of my life? What have I allowed into my life that is contrary to who You are, and what do You want to drive out, God?” I prayed and I didn’t hear anything honestly. I was like, “Okay. Well, I’ll keep listening, Lord.”
It’s a busy morning, right after I read this. I’m trying to get Paxton ready, I’m trying to get myself ready, and it’s one of those mornings where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Like I put the shoes in front of Paxton, and there’s a 50% chance that he can put them on the right feet, but there’s a 90% chance that he doesn’t every morning. I don’t know how he does it. It’s mathematically impossible, but he does it.
Just the morning kept going like that, where I was like, “Oh my goodness, why is this happening to me?” I was getting so frustrated as I was trying to get myself ready, and then I realized I hadn’t given Paxton his vitamins, so I paused and I grabbed his vitamins for him, and one of the vitamins we give him is a focus vitamin because he has problems focusing. I wonder why. He gets it from me, so we give him these focus vitamins. I give him two every morning, and I give him these two focus vitamins, and he takes one of them, and he hands one to me.
This is what he says. Hold on. He says, “Dad, this is so you can do a good job and focus on not being harsh.” I said, “Lord, I see what you want to drive out of my life.” Now honestly, I feel like most times, I’m a pretty patient dad, but it’s in the moments where I’m trying to serve myself.
It’s in the moments where I’m hurried. It’s in those shallow moments where I’m skipping across the surface of life that I tend to be harsh with my son, and God wanted to drive that out of me. I know that I’m supposed to serve Jesus and others, but it’s hard to not serve myself. Is that true in anyone else’s life? Like it’s hard to overcome this constant desire, this constant feeling of need to serve yourself, and there are some things that you need to do for yourself, like you need to put clothes on before you go out of the house in the morning.
You need to do some things, but it’s hard to overcome that feeling of just constantly serving yourself, so how do we overcome that need to serve ourselves so that we can serve Jesus and others? How do I overcome myself to serve Jesus and others? That’s what Jesus is going to talk about in the passage we’re reading today. Would you grab your Bibles, and we’re going to open up to Mark 10, starting at verse 35. It’s on page 869.
You can pass the Bibles down the rows. As we’re turning there, I want to paint a picture of what happens right before the story we’re reading, because it’s going to set up the whole story for us. Right before the story we read, we’re reading the section that starts with the heading, The Request of James and John, but you can see directly above that in your Bibles, there’s a section with the heading, Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time. I’m going to paraphrase what happens there because it sets up our story, starting in verse 35. What happens in that section when Jesus predicts His death, Jesus and His disciples are going to Jerusalem, and the disciples think that finally, the time has come for Jesus to establish His physical Kingdom and push the Romans out of Jerusalem, so the disciples are excited.
They’re thinking, “Man, the time has finally come for Jesus to establish His physical Kingdom,” and they think, “If Jesus is going to be King, we’re His inner circles. What does that mean for us? That means good things for us. That means we’re going to have the top 12 spots. We’re going to be in the inner circle of the King.” They think that they’re going to be served.
They think they’re going to be admired. They’re looking forward to a future purpose where they’re going to be serving Jesus, but they’re also going to be served. They’re also going to be admired. They’re going to be in the top 12 spots. They’re thinking, “I made it to the top. I made you proud, mom.”
While they’re having these visions of grandeur of a future physical Kingdom that Jesus is going to establish, or so they think, Jesus pulls them aside, and He says, “Hey, guys. You think I’m going to be crowned King, but I’m actually going to be crucified as a criminal on the cross. You think I’m going to establish a Kingdom, a physical Kingdom, but that’s not what I’m doing. In fact, I’m going to be betrayed. I’m going to be condemned by our religious leaders, the very leaders who should recognize who I am, but they don’t.”
“I’m going to be condemned by them, and then crucified on the cross, and three days later, I’m going to raise from the grave.” The disciples in the passage we read, they hear all of this, and it’s like they don’t even hear it. Like it’s this emotional moment where Jesus is like, “Guys, I’m going to die,” and in the passage we read, you know what they do? They say, “Hey, Jesus. That’s great and all, but do for us whatever we ask You to do, okay?”
It’s like they are totally emotionally disconnected from the moment, and I wonder because Jesus told parables a lot, right? I wonder if they’re thinking in this moment like, “Yeah, Jesus, that’s just another one of your parables. You’re going to die. Great, great. We get it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do for us whatever we ask,” but in the story, that’s not what happens.
Jesus is going to die. It’s not just a parable. This is what’s actually happening, and Jesus responds to His disciples to their insensitivity, to their emotional disconnection, their misunderstanding of what’s going to happen, but He responds with grace and He gives them two ways with which they can engage their purpose. We’re going to read starting in verse 35 of Mark 10. This is the Word of God. “Then, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him. Teacher,’ they said, ‘We want You to do for us whatever we ask.'”
“‘What do you want me to do for you?’, He asked. They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at Your right and the other at Your left in Your glory.’ ‘You don’t know what you’re asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered.”
“Jesus said, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they’ve been prepared.’ When the 10, the other 10 disciples heard about this, they became indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials, their great ones, exercise authority over them, not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all, for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, we pray that You would give us ears to hear Your life-giving Word, that your Holy Spirit would speak these words afresh into our souls, God, that these would be words of life that would encourage us, would refresh us, would bring us a fervent passion to serving You. Jesus, we want to hear You and know You more.
Speak to us through Your Word. We pray this in Jesus’ name, and everyone said …
Amen. Point number one, “I engage my purpose from a different position. I engage my purpose from a different position.” James and John come to Jesus and say they want the top spots. They want to be number one and number two.
They want to sit on His right and His left, and traditionally, a King, when he sat on his throne, the people who had the most authority and power besides him would sit on his right and His left, and so they come to Him and they say, “Jesus, we want the best spots.” They were aspiring to greatness, and we all aspire to greatness in different ways. Some of us have aspired to greatness, to be remembered throughout all of history. We want to do things that are going to go down in the history books. Many of us aspire to greatness in our own circles of influence.
We want to be remembered as great in a certain area or a great mom, or something like that. We aspire to greatness. When you ask a little kid what they want to be when they grow up, they say something like fireman, or astronaut, or president. No little kid ever said, “I think I want to be mediocre.” Right? We aspire to greatness.
We want to be great students. We want to be great moms, and dads, and husbands, and wives, and friends. We want to be great employees and bosses. We want to be great managers and business owners, and God has purposed you for greatness. That desire in you, that’s for greatness.
God put that there, but our idea of what greatness is has been deeply skewed. Our idea of greatness is deeply skewed because we want to be geniuses instead of make geniuses. We want to be praised instead of give praise. We want to be served instead of serve. James and John wanted exactly what we want.
They wanted comfort and respect, love, admiration, and service, so they come to Jesus and say, “Do for us whatever we ask You to do.” In verse 36, Jesus responds to them and He says, “What do you want me to do for you?” No. Why didn’t Jesus slap them upside the head? Like He just said, “I’m going to die,” and they go, “Great, Jesus. Do for us whatever we ask.”
It’s all about them, but that’s not how Jesus responds. He responds with grace and patience, and He says, “What can I do for you?” The master tells us the servants, “How can I help you?” The master says to the servants, “What can I do for you?” The master takes on the servant’s position and says, “How can I help you, my servants?”
Jesus was incredibly patient with His disciples and God is just as patient with you and me. God is just as generous with you and me. God is just as faithful to you and me. He’s just as humble with you and me. He wants to help you and me, and He has taken on the servant’s position to serve you and me. He tells us, “What can I do for you?”, and if we want to be great, if we want to follow Jesus, we have to take on the position of the servant just like He did.
We have to emulate our King and take on the servant’s position. This last Monday, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We celebrated the life and the legacy of a man who served people and transformed our nation. In 1957, Martin Luther King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” Are you taking on the servant’s position?
What are you doing for others? See, greatness isn’t achieved by elevating yourself, it’s achieved by elevating others, so if you want to be great, get behind somebody and help them. If you want to be great, lift somebody up. Instead of boasting with your words, bless somebody with your words. Instead of trying to get the spotlight, put somebody else in the spotlight.
The path of greatness is downhill to humility, and the farther you travel down the path of humility, the greater you become. When you travel up the path of pride, you become smaller and smaller in the eyes of the people around you and in the eyes of Jesus. The best position in the Kingdom of God is at the bottom, with Jesus. This doesn’t mean that you need to leave your awesome job, that you have to take the lowest position, that you have to quit and find some job that you would hate. It means that in the job that you have, you take the lowest position and serve and love the people around you like that’s what you’re there for because that’s what you’re there for.
That’s your purpose in life, is to serve and love people in Jesus’ name. If I could go back and change one habit in my life, I think I would go back, and in all the places where I elevated myself, I would go back and switch that and elevate other people. I wonder what would happen, how the trajectory of my life would change if I could go back and start elevating people in those moments when I elevated myself, started appreciating and praising people when I was elevating myself. I tend to measure my greatness by comparing myself to people around me in similar positions, so I have a lot of friends who are pastors in town. We actually like each other.
Did you know that? We’re not fighting. We like each other and we pray for each other, so I’ve got a lot of friends who are pastors in town. We get together and we talk, and one of the things that can be easy for me to do though is start comparing myself to them, and I start wondering, “Am I a better leader than he is? Is she a better preacher than me?”
“Is he a better dad than me? Is she a better boss than me?” Comparison will always poison your purpose, because instead of trying to elevate someone, you try to beat them, and when I compare myself to other people, I’m no longer elevating them. Now, I’m trying to overcome them, which is the very thing I’m not supposed to do, and this is exactly what James and John did. They tried to beat the other disciples to the best spot, so they get to Jesus before all of the other ones can do because they say, “Hey, bro, we should be number one and number two.”
“Let’s go before the other disciples can get there. Let’s get the best positions.” They elevated themselves instead of elevating others. They were comparing themselves to the other disciples and thought that they should have the top spots, but the greatness God has purposed for you and me is not produced by self-promotion, but by self-giving. Not boasting with words, but blessing with words.
How do we do this? How do we stop trying to beat others? How do we help others? Well, when James and John did this and the other disciples heard about it, the other disciples were indignant. They were angry, and they weren’t angry because they’re like, “Guys, Jesus just said He’s going to die. How can you be so insensitive?”
They were angry because the other disciples beat them to the best spots. They wanted the best spots. It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t condemn their desire for greatness. Did you notice that? He doesn’t say, “Guys, you shouldn’t desire to be great. You shouldn’t desire to be first.”
He says, “If you want to be first,” so the other disciples are all ticked and upset, and He gathers them all around. He says, “Listen, guys. You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over the people that are underneath them. You know that the great ones and among the Gentiles, they flaunt their authority over the people underneath them, but not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. Whoever wants to be great must be a servant.”
Jesus doesn’t condemn their desire, He redefines how to fulfill the desire to be great or to be first. If they want to be great in everything they do, greatness is achieved in His eyes by service. If you want to be great, first or best, do it by becoming a servant, taking the position of a servant. If you want to be the best dad, be the best dad by serving your kids in Jesus’ name. If you want to be the best mom, be the best mom by serving your kids in Jesus’ name, or the best spouse by serving your spouse in Jesus’ name, or the best employee by serving your boss in Jesus’ name, or the best friend by serving your friend in Jesus’ name.
This is the path to greatness. It’s the position of a servant, so be the first to volunteer at work. Be the first to help clean up when something spills. Be the first to ask how someone else is doing. Be the first to offer to help when you get a text from a friend and they’re moving.
We all avoid that text, and when everyone else wants to be first, be last. Take the servant’s position. Do exactly what Jesus did. Be great by serving greatly because you are saved to serve by a God who has served you greatly. Engage your purpose from a different position.
It’s not the top spot, it’s the lowest spot, the servant’s position. Point number two, “I engage my purpose with a different posture. I engage my purpose with a different posture.” Would you look back to verse 45 with me? Jesus finishes His talk with His disciples, and He says this, He says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus came to serve. Jesus took the lowest position with the best attitude. Nobody took His life from Him. He gave His life willingly. He did it with the best attitude. You can do the right thing with the wrong attitude.
Has anyone ever done that before? You can take the servant’s position, but not have a servant’s posture in your heart. If you were here last week, I talked about how sometimes my wife and I get in fights, and when we get in fights, I just shut down. I’m like the prototypical male. I’m like, “Don’t talk to me,” and what I do is not prototypical.
I start angry-cleaning. I start cleaning the stove and vacuuming fast, and honestly, I’m serving her, right? I’m taking the servant’s position, but I don’t have the servant’s posture in my heart. I’m angry, I’m bitter, I’m upset. That’s not the servant’s posture.
I’m not coming to her willingly and saying, “How can I serve you? How can I bless you? How can I elevate you?” I’m doing it out of frustration. We can have a servant’s position, but not have a servant’s posture.
I’ve noticed that I serve for lots of different reasons. I’ve often served to be noticed. I’ve often served to be appreciated. I’ve often served hoping to be elevated. We can serve from the wrong motives with the wrong posture, and honestly, there’s some things that, like I can get to serving and I’ll have the wrong posture, but there’s a lot of things in my heart that keep me even from serving.
They keep me from even taking the position because my posture in my heart is already wrong, so I think we really need to look at our posture in our hearts because it’s going to determine how often we take the servant’s position. Three years ago, I got an email from a woman here in our church. She was going to Eastern Washington University, and she had met a guy named Muhammad, who’s from Saudi Arabia and he was also going to Eastern, and she had started building this relationship with him and sharing Jesus with him. Muhammad following Allah, was not a Christian, was a Muslim, and so as she started sharing Jesus with him, he was interested but very conflicted because it was going against everything he’d been taught, everything that he knew, all of his beliefs and his culture, and so she got to this point with Muhammad where she was like, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how to help this guy.”
“I’m frustrated with him because we keep bumping up against cultural things that stop him from knowing Jesus,” and so she said, “Hey, pastor, can you come and talk to Muhammad today?” I’m like … I was busy that day. I didn’t want to go out to Eastern Washington University. This was the last thing that I want to do because I had lots of things to do.
I was being selfish with my time, but I felt this nudge from God. I felt Him say, “You need to go,” so I drove out to Eastern Washington University, I found the library building, and then I found this random room where they were meeting, in the library. I engaged in this conversation with Muhammad, and we started talking about Jesus, and he deeply wanted to know who Jesus is. I realized that we wouldn’t get there in one conversation, so I said, “Hey, dude. I want to pray for you, but I also want to give you my number because we need to start talking about this more,” so I gave him my number.
We started texting, talking, we started meeting up, and for coffee. I started going out there and seeing what he was doing, and just having these conversations with him, and then he started coming to church and sitting with me at church, and we continued to develop these conversations about Jesus until finally, he was starting to have dreams about Jesus, where literally, Jesus was visiting him in his dreams and saying, “Muhammad, I want you to follow me. Muhammad, I have a plan and a purpose for your life. Muhammad, would you come with me?”, and so it was almost three years ago, right back there. We weren’t baptizing people out here, but he wanted to be baptized desperately, so we baptized him in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit three years ago right back there because he said yes to Jesus.
Can I remind you that I didn’t want to go out there and talk to him? It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I said yes to an opportunity to serve somebody. Muhammad became a Christian, was following Jesus, but he was very afraid that his family would find out and that his friends would find out because if they did, he would be rejected from his family. He was afraid of what would happen to him if he went back to Saudi Arabia, so he was applying for religious asylum here in the United States, and eventually, his friends found out, and so he didn’t feel safe anymore, so he moved away to Oregon, and then moved another time. I don’t know where he is now.
When he was in Oregon, I actually got a call from a person who worked at a church in Oregon, and they said, “Hey, do you know this Muhammad guy?” I was like, “Yeah, I know Muhammad. He’s awesome. I baptized him.” They’re like, Okay, that’s what he told us.”
“We just wanted to double-check his story and make sure this was legit because he just showed up out of nowhere. “Then, as we’re finishing the conversation, she says, “Hey, by the way, do you know that he doesn’t go by Muhammad anymore? He goes by Michael.” Can I remind you, I didn’t want to talk to him? It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I said yes to an opportunity that Jesus put in front of me to serve someone else in His name.
Friends, what will happen when you say yes to the opportunities that God has all around you to serve people in Jesus’ name? We never know what God is going to do with the opportunities He puts in front of us, but so often, there’s things inside of us that stop us from taking on the posture of a servant or the position of a servant. So often, we’re so selfish with our time that we won’t enter into service. We’re so selfish with our money that we won’t enter into service. We’re afraid of people who are different than us, and often when we’re serving, we enter into relationships with people who are far different than us who need our help.
We’re afraid of failure when we finally jump in, and we’re afraid that we’re going to make it worse. We’re afraid of getting in over our head that as we serve, people are just going to need more, and more, and more of us and we feel like we don’t have enough to give. These are the things that keep us from entering into the opportunities that Jesus has for us. How do we overcome those and grow a servant’s heart? How do we develop this posture in our lives, being ready to serve Jesus whenever He asks us to?
I’m going to give you four really practical ways that you can grow a servant’s heart, that you can develop this posture of being a servant when you get the opportunities that Jesus has for you. Now, there’s four things that I’m going to share with you, and the first two are incredibly basic. You’re going to be like, “Yeah, sounds like my mom,” and I’m going to say, “Why didn’t you do it when your mom told you to do it then?” Can I get a hallelujah, moms? Here’s the first one, if you want to grow a servant’s heart, eat well.
Eat well. If you overeat or undereat, or if you eat garbage, you’re going to feel like garbage. You’re going to feel lazy, and selfish, and tired, and exhausted, and you’re not going to want to serve anybody. When you’re tired, you don’t want to serve anybody but yourself, so eat well. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
The second way … First, eat well if you want to grow a servant’s heart. The second way is sleep well. Sleep well if you want to develop a servant’s heart. If you oversleep or undersleep, you’re going to be tired, grouchy, lazy, and selfish, and you won’t want to serve anyone besides yourself, so take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
In his book, called The Good and Beautiful God, it’s a book about growing your maturity as a Christian. James Bryan Smith says … He gives these soul trainings that you should do as you’re trying to grow yourself, grow this servant’s heart inside of you, and the first soul training that he gives in his book, The Good and Beautiful God is to sleep well. How many of you want to do that soul training tonight? Whoo. It’s like, “Hey, I can sleep, man.”
“If there’s one thing I can do, I can sleep,” but he says this. He says, “The number one enemy of Christian spiritual formation today is exhaustion.” If you’re exhausted, you’re not going to want to serve anyone, so if you want to grow a servant’s heart, eat well and sleep well, and the third thing is this, slow down. Slow down. If you’re going 100 miles per hour in your life, you will not see the opportunities that God has placed around you.
They will blur past you and you won’t notice the people that need your help. Slow down so you can give yourself time to really see what’s going on around you and dig in and serve the people around you, so eat well, sleep well, slow down, and the fourth one is listen up. Listen up. Ask the Holy Spirit who He wants you to serve today. Say, “God, who do you have for me today? Who are you going to put in my path?”
Keep those listening ears open so that when you’re going through your day, you’re hearing him say, “That’s the person.” I want you to serve them because there’s so many people we could serve, right? We could be overwhelmed with serving every person in front of us, but I want us to listen to Jesus and serve whom He asks us to. What would happen if every time you walked through a door this week, so … When you walk through these doors, what would happen if every time you walked through a door, you said, “God, who do you want me to serve in here?”
“Who do you have for me in this moment? Who can I bless with the word? Who can I serve with a smile? Who can I help with a hug? Who can I help by asking them how they’re doing? Who can I serve by saying, ‘What do you need me to do for you?'”
What if you did that each and every day this week as you walked through the door? I think your life would be a crazy adventure this week, don’t you think so? Obedience is the opposite of boring, because when you obey Jesus, when you listen to Him and obey, when you just say, “Jesus, I want to have this servant’s heart, this servant’s posture,” He’s going to lead you into adventures that you would never choose for yourself. He’s going to give you problems and platforms to step into and to step onto that you would never have been able to get for yourself, so we, if we would just choose obedience, we would actually get the life that we’ve always wanted. I want to help us because again, I said there’s so many people we could serve.
How do we choose who to serve? I want to help you by doing a little art with you. You guys okay doing an art project right now?
You didn’t know that you were going to get too an art project, but you are. I want you to, on your outline, if everyone would do this with me, I want you to draw four concentric circles like this. This is going to be a little exercise where we write a name in each circle, and this circle represents your life and your circles of influence, and here, in your inner circle, these are the people who are closest to you, the people who you love the most and you see the most, you’re with them the most, and you just have a heart for these people. I wonder if there is one of those five or six people in your life or in your inner circle whom God wants you to serve this week. What I want you to do is write down the name of one of those people in your life, one of your inner circle people who you could say, “I’m going to serve this person this week.” For me, it’s my wife.
I’m going to serve my wife this week, so go ahead, write that name down of someone in your inner circle whom you can serve this week. Ask God, “Who is that person?” Then, we get to the middle circle, and these are the people you like, you see them pretty frequently, you think they’re great, they’re nice. There’s maybe a hundred of these people in your life who you see frequently, you like them. Which one of these people does God want you to serve this week?
Write down a name of one of these people in your life whom you could serve this week. In these inner two circles, we’re talking about serving them this week. In these outer two circles, we’re going to challenge ourselves to serve them this month. In this outer circle, these are people that you see a couple times a month who, they’re okay. You like them all right, but they’re not your favorite people.
Maybe that’s why they’re in your outer circle, right? I want you to think through, “Who’s one of these people in your outer circle who God wants you to serve this week?” Would you write that name down? Then finally here, this is the fringe. This last circle is the fringe, and these are people who can’t repay you if you serve them, or won’t repay you if you serve them.
These are people who maybe are your enemies and they’re the last ones you want to serve, but what if Jesus wants to use you to serve them this month? Would you write down a name of one of those people in your life who’s on the fringe, who won’t reciprocate service, who will never elevate you, but maybe they’re your enemy, but God’s calling you to serve them this month? I hope that that is a helpful tool for you as you go through this week and this month to know who to serve and to continue to listen to Jesus as you walk this life of taking the servant’s position and the servant’s posture. I want to end just with reading verse 45 one more time. Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.”
Many scholars think that this verse is the main focus of all of Mark, that everything leading up to this is pointing to this verse, that Jesus came to not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many, and that everything after this is explained by it, that this is the focal point of all of Mark, that Jesus came to save us and serve us. Just after this story that we read where Jesus tells the disciples to have a servant’s position and a servant’s posture, He is going through Jericho up to Jerusalem, and while He’s going, this blind, nobody beggar starts calling out to Jesus, and he’s ruining the whole parade. Everybody’s having fun, and then this guy named Bartimaeus is saying, “Jesus.” He’s screaming, “Jesus,” and everyone says, “Shhh, be quiet, Bartimaeus. Jesus doesn’t have time for you.”
“He’s too important for you,” but Jesus stops and calls Bartimaeus to Him and says the same thing that He said to James and John. He says, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus says, “I want to see,” and Jesus says, “Your faith has healed you,” and Bartimaeus can see. Even while Jesus was going to do the most important thing in the world, why he was heading to Jerusalem to go save the world on a cross, Jesus had the time to stop and serve a blind, nobody beggar named Bartimaeus.
While Jesus was at the last night of His life with His disciples in the upper room, they’re eating this meal together, but there’s no one to wash their feet. There’s no servant there, and Jesus took off His outer robe, put on the garb of a servant and got down in the position of a servant and washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus is the ultimate example of a servant. While Jesus was being arrested, one of his disciples took a sword and cut off an enemy’s ear. It was probably Peter, right?
Jesus, while He’s being arrested, stops and serves His enemy and heals His ear. Jesus is the ultimate example of a service. While Jesus is dying on the cross, He looks at His mom and He looks at His disciple, John, and he says, “John, I want you to take care of my mom.” With His dying breaths, Jesus is serving His mom, making sure that she’s going to be taken care of. While Jesus is on the cross, He’s serving you and me.
He takes up the criminal’s cross to save us from our sins. If you want to follow Jesus into His glory, it’s down the narrow path and through the narrow gate of service. I’m saved by His service and I’m saved for His service, and so are you.