The Joy of a Servant Heart

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The Joy of a Servant Heart

Serving others is not easy, especially those who we don’t relate to or get along with. What does the Bible say about having a servant’s heart?

Head

The Joy of a Servant Heart

Serving others is not easy, especially those who we don’t relate to, or get along with. With a culture that is divided on almost everything, genuine love and service for others is a rare occurrence. Even Christians, who ought to be known for our love, are hesitant to serve. How do we fight these sinful thoughts and cultivate a servant’s heart?

Philippians 2:1-8 is a helpful place to turn when considering a servant’s heart and fighting thoughts that lead to inaction. Let’s analyze this passage.

It says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, 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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

We can split this passage into three parts. Each part tells us something about how to cultivate a servant’s heart. 

  1. The Condition
  2. The Command
  3. The Cause

Heart

1. The Condition

What conditions need to be met for us to serve? Safety? Health? Reward? When should we love and serve one another? Our passage answers this in the very first verse, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Contrary to our initial thoughts, the condition for serving is not dependent on the receiver and their character or ability. The condition for serving is dependent on the heart of the servant.

A servant’s heart doesn’t come from met requirements by those in need. It comes from the joy that abounds in a Christ filled believer. If the spirit of joy dwells deeply inside of you, if your heart is transformed by Christ, if his love exists in your life, then love one another. We learn then, that if we are to call ourselves Christian, there is no excuse for withholding love from our fellow man. When you are confronted with your sin and your pride tells you to withhold love from others, humble yourself, remember your identity with Christ, the power of His Spirit, and put on a servant’s heart. If you are a Christian, the precondition for serving others has already been met.

2. The Command

So the conditions have been met, but what do we do? What does it look like to live with a servant’s heart? The command in our passage is clear. Paul says, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Since you have been saved by grace, extend grace to those around you. Take up a servant’s heart as you fulfill the needs of others. Look out for other’s needs as you count them more significant than yourself. Seek to bring unity with your brothers and sisters. 

 

Having a servant heart can take many forms. Stopping your friends from arguing with one another, saying a kind word to someone who is feeling down, or fulfilling a basic need for someone in a tough situation are all examples for how to live with a servant’s heart. If you are wondering how to respond to a specific situation, remember the Golden Rule of Luke 6:31, “as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Consider what you wish others would do if you were in that situation, and act accordingly. 

3. The Cause

Now that we know we should serve and know how to serve, we should ask ourselves, why do we serve? Where does a servant’s heart come from? Constantly loving and serving others is hard! Where do we look for our own encouragement and strength? The answer is found in the person of Christ. Paul very intentionally incorporates this when he speaks about the servant heart saying, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, 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. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Why should we serve? Because Christ served us and He is in us. The God of the entire universe humbled himself and became a servant. He came down to earth and gave his life for you. Our encouragement, example, and strength to have a servant heart come from the Jesus Christ and his promise to work in you. 

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Living out the Servant's Heart

The next time you are hesitant to serve or get really irritated at someone, maybe a sibling or a friend, consider what God did for you. When you’re finding it hard to love and serve someone, remember this, Romans 5:6-8 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

While you were lost in sin, weak and ungodly, Christ died for you. If you are a Christian, then you have received this gift. How can you be unloving to others when the greatest love has been poured out for you? It’s as if you have been given a billion dollars, but when one person asks for a penny, you refuse to give it to them! We have been given infinite love by God, so let’s follow the example of Christ and take up a servant’s heart as we love one another. 

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