Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:11-12 (MSG)
“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
“But the greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be raised to honor.” -AMPLIFIED
Jesus very pointed spoke these words to His followers after sharply warning them of the dangers of hypocrisy. Jesus cautioned His listeners that others may do things to draw attention to themselves and to earn praise, but they were not to do that.
Jesus told His followers, “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.” -Matthew 23:2-3 (MSG)
Do not be like them; was Jesus’ message. Do not try to be something that you are not. Do not knowingly draw attention to yourself; for those who exalt themselves will be humbled. He who humbles himself though will be honored.
Jesus’ words were an oxymoron to His listeners, “In order to be great; be a servant?” Yet, Jesus knew what He was speaking of and He demonstrated it time and time again in His own life. Case in point; John 13:1-17 we find Jesus humbly washing the feet of His disciples; a servant’s job. Yet, here was the Son of God down on His hands and knees quietly demonstrating what He expected of His followers.
Servant-hood to many people seems to be a place where a person must demean or lower their dignity, status or standing among others. They assume that others will look down on them, but in all actuality being a servant demonstrates God’s love in and through us to others. Servant-hood is an attitude which exemplifies Christ.
The Bible has a whole lot to say about humility and servant-hood; especially because the central theme of the whole book is about the “Servant of all”. Jesus, our prime example, spoke these words, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials 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 to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)
“Rank is given you to enable you to better serve those above and below you. It is not given for you to practice your idiosyncrasies.” -General Bruce C. Clarke, USA
Lord, help me to exemplify you when I am interacting with others. I desire to have the heart of a servant. You were God, yet you did not think it was beyond your station to come to Earth and live as a man; even humbling yourself to serve those whom you came to save from the very sin that we had put ourselves in. Help me to have your heart Lord. Help me to not think of myself more highly than I ought.