We live in a "Me, Myself and I" culture. All of our choices, all of our decisions are based on what will make us happy and what will satisfy our passions and dreams. Society teaches us from a young age to seek out our own desires and to put ourselves above others. Selfishness, pride and conceit are apart of our fleshly make up, but the Bible calls it sin.
We have finished our study in Matthew, but I want us to take a look at something we read last week in Matthew 20. Beginning in verse 20, we find a sweet Mama coming to Jesus to request something for her two sons, James and John. She didn't ask for much, she just wanted her two boys to sit right next to Jesus in heaven, that's all.
"What is your request?" he asked. She replied, "In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left." ~ Matthew 20:21
So first, can you believe this woman's question? I actually found myself embarrassed for her as I was reading this section of Scripture. She was asking Jesus Christ, the Messiah, for favoritism of her two sons! Wow! This shocked me, however, it brings me to point two. Sometimes our wants don't seem selfish because they are for the ones we love. I'm not saying we shouldn't want the best for our children, husbands, family or friends, absolutely we should. It becomes a problem when we put ourselves or our precious loved ones above others without thinking of others. Does that make sense? This mother just wanted the best for her children, she didn't realize what she was asking.
But Jesus answered by saying to them, "You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?" "Oh yes," they replied, "we are able!" Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones He has chosen." ~ Matthew 20:22-23
Although these two disciples declared they were able to drink from Jesus' bitter cup, they had no idea what true suffering He would endure. And we know, that they could not take His place. It didn't work that way. Only Jesus, God's only beloved son, could be crucified for the sins of the world. Those two men had no clue what they were saying. Sometimes, our selfish desires put us in places or circumstances we can't really handle or places we aren't chosen for. Our prideful ambitions will come before seeking the Lord's direction. Without His direction, we may move ourselves and our families into situations we aren't truly prepared for.
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. ~ Matthew 20:24
I imagine the other disciples were indeed upset. After all, they had each given up the lives that they had formerly known, to follow Jesus. I'm sure they each felt a certain entitlement of this request. As believers, we are to lead others to Christ through our example. To me, that is really scary. We think we are in control of the example we portray. When we know we are being watched, we are much more careful to live "righteously", but the true example we give is when we are being ourselves, being real, when we think no one else is watching. Jesus' response to all of this is the reason for the passage itself.
But Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many." ~ Matthew 20: 25-28
That last verse speaks volumes to me. As we have read through Matthew these past few weeks, we have read many accounts of how Jesus served others. He healed the sick, cast out demons, fed thousands, raised the dead and performed countless miracles. He reached out not only to the elite but he served the poorest of the poor. He took the time for everyone who came to Him, old and young, and even when He knew some would turn away, He served them anyway. If we want true fulfillment and satisfaction, we have to let go of ourselves. If we keep seeking more for ourselves that hunger will only grow and cause us to want more and more, for self absorption is never satisfied. But, if we lay ourselves down, and begin to put the welfare of others above our own wants and needs, true fulfillment will come. The Bible gives us many verses on serving others.
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full- pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you give back. ~ Luke 6: 38
God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. ~ I Peter 4:10
Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all! ~ Romans 12:9-16
So the question is: How are we to serve? Not all of us are called into full time ministry. Not all of us are called to foreign lands to be a missionary. We may not be called to open a shelter or a crisis center, but we are all called to serve. We serve others by truly loving them and sometimes that means loving people in spite of themselves. It's not always easy to love the hard-hearted. We serve others with a servant's attitude. You may volunteer at the local shelter four days a week, but if you serve those people with an attitude that says you think you are better than them, you haven't served them at all. We serve with our faithfulness to God and what He has called us to. For some of us that may mean we serve an elderly parent who thinks we do nothing right. We may serve a contentious spouse. We may serve a rebellious child. We may serve a rude and unreasonable boss. We may serve a neighbor who causes problems at every turn. Whoever it may be, we must serve with faithfulness, knowing God has brought those people to us to share Him with them. That may mean we have to accept inconsideration and the lack of gratitude, but we are to serve enthusiastically, knowing we are truly serving the Lord.
As a mother, I am trying to teach my children to serve others. It's not easy. In fact, most days I know I am not being the best example, but still I am trying. Serving others is simply sharing yourself, in every way. Share your time, your talents, your resources and your energies. I know it's hard, but it is what the Lord has called us to. Jesus came to serve others. Being fully God and fully man, He came and served others. What an example! Let us strive to do the same. Let's begin by humbling ourselves, for we cannot serve anyone if we cannot get over ourselves.
Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. ~ Philippians 2:3-4
Our precious Father, we love you and we are so thankful for the gift of your son, Jesus, although we don't deserve His sacrifice. Help me Lord, to humble myself and to be able to take an interest in others. Give me a servant's heart, so that others can see You in me. In the sweet, name of Jesus I pray, amen.
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. "
Hi! I'm Andrea, wife to my handsome hubby, homeschooling mama to my 5 amazing blessings (with one more on the way), and daughter of the King of kings. I am so glad you have stopped by my little piece of the web. My prayer is that the Lord will use this blog to encourage you in your personal, daily walk with Christ.