Posts Tagged ‘servant’

To be first, become last, and serve others first

January 29, 2016

Mark-9 35

Revised and re-posted from a previous entry, the Verse of the Day for January 29, 2016 speaks of the oxymoronic nature of true servanthood: the last shall be first and the first shall be last. If you want to be in the premier position as number one, then put yourself in the last position by putting others first, and you will be great.

Mark 9:35 puts this way in the King James Version:

And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Jesus Christ illustrates the same point that those who desire to be first should put themselves last and serve others first. Other places in the Scriptures also reveal this striking portrait of a true servant of the Lord:

Luke 22:26 (NLT)

But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.

A similar response occurs in Mark 10:43 (NLT)

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,

A particularly noteworthy verse is found in Matthew 20:27 (NLT):

and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.

In following in the steps of Jesus Christ, one of the most noble character traits that a person can demonstrate is that of serving others. Throughout the life and ministry of Christ, he takes upon himself the form of a servant, thus modeling the behavior that he desires to see his followers emulate.

In the New Testament we find that the metaphor of the servant or bondslave is used in the Bible to portray this admirable heart of service. The distinction between the term “slave” and the “bond servant” which is translated from the Greek word doulos in the New Testament is that the servant or bondslave offers his life in “voluntary servitude.” Though often looked upon in a negative light, choosing to become a servant of the Lord is a most admirable character trait.

My attraction to this particular metaphor occurred more than 40 years ago when I was introduced to the concept of the doulos, translated “servant” but more accurately rendered “bondslave.” I produced an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave” published in 1975. In 1978 while completing my Master’s thesis, I explored the subject in light of Paul’s literary style in the Church Epistles. I went on to complete my Ph.D. in 1986 with a dissertation entitled Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets. Aside from a purely academic exploration of the topic of the bondslave, I have also endeavored to apply the precepts of this biblical term in a practical way. I express my personal application of the principles of servitude found in this intriguing figure in the poem “More Than Metaphor”:

More than Metaphor

For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me:
and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another,
Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it

Matthew 8:9

To capture my essence I strive to find a word,
Phrase, image or mind picture to bring clarity,
To express my deep yearning for intimacy.
Like Paul, my calling card reads: “servant of the Lord.”
Each fiber of my being and each emotion
Pulsates with lifeblood flowing from a servant’s heart.
As I endeavor to learn and live to impart
The joy of serving with pure-hearted devotion,
I pledge to work in voluntary servitude,
As I fix my eyes, looking unto my Lord’s hands,
To heed His Word and to do more than He commands,
To serve with love from a heart filled with gratitude.
Beyond a single concept, more than metaphor
Is this branded bondslave, who embodies “the more.”

Listen to “The Servant Song” by Maranatha! Promise Band, as we close this blog entry.

“Constant Reminders”: Inspired by the Verse of the Day

October 17, 2012

This morning as I began my day, I thought of Psalm 46 and decided to look up that particular psalm on the Bible software on my laptop. I couldn’t help but marvel at how my routine has changed over the past 54 years since I was first made reading the Scriptures a part of my daily routine. I was drafted into the US Army in 1967 in the midst of the Vietnam crisis, which served as a backdrop to my commitment to Jesus Christ and my introduction to the Word of God upon which I decided to build my life. Before I left for basic training, the members of my former church in Gary, Indiana had given me a small leather-bound Bible with a zipper. I still have the well-worn Bible with frayed pages, and though the place where my name was embossed in gold has been worn away, I have endeavored to “hide the word in my heart that I might not sin against God.” Back then with the Bible in hand, taking a “good look at the Good Book” was part of my daily routine. Now that routine often involves reading the Word of God from my laptop.

For the past 54 years I have tried to implement the discipline of reading the Bible as a way of beginning my day.

As I went to pull up Psalm 46, the “Verse of the Day” caught my eye. When I read the two verses, a melody came to mind while meditating on this passage from the New International Version:

Psalm 25:14-15

The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Verse 14 caused me to think of a poem that I had written nine years ago after hearing a message by Apostle David Puplompu who used six words as the foundation for his teaching: God-faith-hope-promise-covenant-love. I used to those six words in crafting a particular kind of poem called a “sestina” which is structured using six words which serve as the ending word of lines of a series of six stanzas plus a three-line closing stanza. One of the six words used is “covenant” mentioned in Psalm 25:14.

 

  Constant Reminders

   for Apostle David Puplompu

 

Quick and powerful is the Word of God.

Once heard, it generates within us faith,

Arising to anchor our souls in hope,

Linked to a sure and unfailing promise,

Sealed with an everlasting covenant:

Constant reminders of His endless love.

 

Never failing, always abounding love,

Still overflowing from the heart of God,

Expressed in the oath of His covenant,

Salted before the offspring of great faith,

From God, who cannot lie in this promise:

That through the Scriptures we might rest in hope.

 

Though we do not see, yet we wait in hope,

For we are rooted and grounded in love

And know that God fulfills every promise.

We place our ears near to the lips of God

And learn to walk, not by sight, but by faith,

Assured that He will keep His covenant.

 

God makes known to us a new covenant,

Quickened within us by a lively hope,

Energized by ever-increasing faith,

That we might know and be known by His love,

Surpassing even the knowledge of God:

How great and how precious is each promise.

 

To us and our children is this promise,

For we are joint-heirs of the covenant.

Grace, mercy and peace from our Father, God:

His plans to give us a future and hope.

As His dear children, we must walk in love,

Since we know that the just shall live by faith.

 

Born again into the family of faith,

As God sent, so we received the promise,

A measure of the fullness of His love.

Bound by words of a righteous covenant,

We shall never be ashamed of our hope:

We know that faithful and true is our God.

 

The seed of faith planted in covenant,

Rooted in its promise, blossoms in hope:

Rich harvest of love from the Word of God.

 

Verse 15 and its reference to “my eyes are ever on the Lord” caused me to think of the lyrics to this original composition:

 

The Servant’s Song: My Eyes Are Only on You

 My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

 

As the eyes of a servant look to the hands of His Lord,

As the ears of a servant know so well his master’s voice,

So my mind stays focused to watch and learn how you move.

Create in me a servant’s heart; teach me to serve in love.

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

 

As I continue to wait upon my Master and Lord,

I will quickly obey and gladly submit to His will.

I fulfill my calling as I watch and wait to see

When He bids me to the wedding feast, and He will wait on me.

 

My eyes are only on you.

My eyes are only on you.

All that you tell me that I will do.

I offer my life; I give it to you,

For my eyes are only on you.

 

What a wonderful way to begin my day.  My routine of reading the Word of God is still the same yet somehow different because of the technology that I did not have access to 45 years ago when I first began to “hide the Word in my heart.”

 

Though I may not literally read the Bible everyday, I still endeavor to apply Psalm 119:11, one of the first scriptures that I committed to memory more than 54 years ago.

We close with the perfect music video that captures the essence of what we have shared this morning:

“Covenant Song” by Caedmon’s Call: