Posts Tagged ‘to serve’

Serve one another in love

May 22, 2017

Taken from Galatians 5:13 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2017 highlights the paradox between freedom and servitude:

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

Footnotes in Bible Gateway.com offer the following explanations:

The “sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness)” literally means “the flesh.”

The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another.

The New Living Translation renders the Verse of the Day this way:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

A related verse is found in also in the New Living Translation:

1 Peter 4:10

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

The basin and towel are symbolic of the essence of servanthood.

In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of one of my favorite passages regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, who revealed so clearly the heart of a bond servant when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13.

A number of years ago, my wife and I received a special Christmas gift: a statue of Christ washing one of his disciples’ feet with the inscription John chapter 13 embossed on the base. I was deeply moved when I opened the package and discovered such a priceless gift inside. Here is a replica of the sculpture that we received.

Nowhere is this portrait of a true servant of the Lord more vividly revealed than in the account where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples in John 13. This very moving passage, in part, inspired this poem:

Let Me Wash Your Feet
John 13:4-5, 19

As Jesus put off his garments and wrapped a towel
around himself,
So I lay aside my pride with nothing to hide and
expose myself.
As a humble servant I long to wash your feet.
You could yourself
Perform this deed of loving service, but let me
Serve you myself.
To allow me to wash your feet is to bless me,
as Christ himself
Blessed the Twelve before he departed from this earth.
You have yourself
The key to the door of blessing for you and me:
As Jesus took
Upon himself
The servant’s form
That I myself
Might freely give
To you yourself,
So I ask you
As Christ himself
Still asks of me,
So I ask you to
Let me to wash your feet.

“The Basin and the Towel,” musical composition by Michael Card, also portrays this moving account of John 13 in this video:

“To Serve” is a powerful verb. Listen to this excerpt from the classic sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who opens the door to vast possibilities for greatness for those who choose to serve.

We conclude with Frontline Music offering a Galatians Meditation based on Galatians 5:13-15:

To serve, to fear, to obey, to listen, and to cling

October 9, 2016

deuteronomy_13-4-nasb

Revised and re-posted below is the Verse of the Day for October 9, 2016 taken from Deuteronomy 13:4 (NLT):

Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.

This verse contains directives to the Children of Israel expressed in the form of five verbs:

To serve, to fear, to obey, to listen, and to cling: in a similar way these action words could be applied to our lives today as believers.

To serve:

Deuteronomy 6:13 (Amplified Bible) reiterates the same message that the people of God are to serve Him alone:

You shall fear [only] the Lord your God; and you shall serve Him [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] and swear [oaths] by His name [alone].

When Jesus Christ was tempted of the Devil in the wilderness, the Savior’s response came from this very passage in Deuteronomy 6:13:

Matthew 4:10 (Amplified Bible)

Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”

To fear:

Regarding the fear of the Lord, Job 28:28 (NLT) offers this reminder:

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’”

The Psalmist echoes a similar sentiment in Psalm 111:10 (NLT)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!

Amplified Bible also connects the fear of the Lord with obedience:

The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that leads to obedience and worship] is a fountain of life, So that one may avoid the snares of death.

To obey:

Regarding this verb, Deuteronomy 11:22 offers these words of wisdom:

“Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him.

To listen:

In addition, the people of God are to “listen to His voice:

Deuteronomy 13:18 tells us:

“The Lord your God will be merciful only if you listen to his voice and keep all his commands that I am giving you today, doing what pleases him.

The expression “listen to his voice” brings to mind the following poem which encourages believers to perfect listening as a highly developed art:

The Art of Listening

God has something to say to you,

God has something to say.

Listen, Listen, Pay close attention.

God has something to say.

Children’s Song

 

The Lord GOD has given me

The tongue of the learned

That I should know how to speak

A word in season to him who is weary.

He awakens me morning by morning,

He awakens my ear

To hear as the learned.

The Lord GOD has opened my ear;    

And I was not rebellious,

Nor did I turn away.

Isaiah 50:4-5

 

Listen, listen, children: hear with the inner ear.

Tune your ears to hear in the center of your heart.

I will whisper cherished secrets as you come near.

To listen intently and obey is an art,

Practiced and perfected day by day.

As you hide my Word in the center of your heart,

I perform and bring to pass every word I say.

In my unfolding Kingdom, you too have a part,

For to walk in love is the more excellent way.

Partake of my promises and consume my Word.

As precious as life-giving water, hold it dear

And do my will, proving all things that you have heard.

Listen intently and obey: Perfect this art.

Listen, listen, children: hear with the inner ear.

To cling:

The final verb means to stick to or to stick with, stay close, cleave, and keep close.  It has also been translated to follow closely, join to, overtake, and catch. As believers, all of our energy and efforts should be toward pursuing and adhering to the precepts of the Lord, our God.

Deuteronomy 10:20 provides another directive to fear and to cling:

You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him. Your oaths must be in his name alone.

The Psalmist makes this statement:

Psalm 119:31 (NLT):

I cling to your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!

We conclude our discussion with a musical reference to the final verb:

“Cling to Christ” by Sovereign Grace Music

 

 

 

Beyond race relations: To serve

July 27, 2016

Galatians-5-13

In recent blog posts instead of examining the Verse of the Day, we have been continuing  the series based on the concept “It’s all about relationships,” the theme from a conference attended three years that related seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These principles can be universally applied in achieving and maintaining successful relationships, but they can also be specifically applied in an area of race relations, a critically important area in America today.

These seven principles are related to verbs that connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” The reciprocal pronoun used in the plural carries the notion of a group of people acting upon themselves, i.e., upon one another. For example, we are to “love another and so forth. . .”

1) Love

2) Honor

3)  Forgive

4)  Encourage

5)  Admonish

6)  Serve

7)  Make peace

Earlier posts have discussed the first five principles, and today we will look at the sixth.

Serve one another

One of the most striking facets of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was his taking upon himself the form of a servant who did not come into the world to be served but to serve. In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of a teachable moment in the ministry of Jesus Christ, who put off his robe and girded himself with a towel, portraying so clearly the heart of a true servant or bond slave when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13.12-15:

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

Elsewhere in the Scriptures we find similar exhortations to serve one another:

Galatians 5:13 in the New Living Translation:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

As believers, we have been blessed with a wide range of spiritual abilities or talents, as 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT) confirms and states how they should be used:

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

To serve in its most literal sense means to perform the duties of a servant or bond slave; in our case we serve one another from a position of “voluntary servitude.” We exercise our freedom in Christ Jesus and choose to serve one another. To serve is not to assume the lowest position in the eyes of God, but those who aspire to serve are recognized as great. In Matthew 20:25-27 Jesus Christ reiterates this point:

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—

For a definition of what it means to serve, listen to this excerpt from the classic sermon “The Drum Major Instinct” by Dr. Martin Luther King, who speaks of vast possibilities for greatness for those who choose “to serve.”

As believers we are called upon to serve, we as we are ever challenged to sow as well, expressed in this way:

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again

with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5,6

 

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,

To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give

All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part

To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,

For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.

The legacy of God’s will fulfilled lives beyond

This brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain:

This precious token of our covenant, the bond

Of devotion to the Master, perfected love

Shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in His peace

That passes understanding, flowing from above.

As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.

Freely we have received that we might come to know

The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

 

As believers, we respond to the call and demonstrate our choice:

To render service to, to act as a bond slave who serves

And joyfully gives advantage to the one being served,

So use your freedom to serve one another in love.

We conclude with the song “Be Devoted” by Acapella who encourage believers to “serve one another.”

 

 

 

 

 

To serve

May 22, 2016

Galatians-5-13

The Verse of the Day for May 22, 2016 brings to mind one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Bible, an extraordinary paradox that continues to baffle all those who encounter the duality of freedom and servanthood, the distinction between “bond and free.” One of the scriptures that highlights the paradox of being free yet choosing to serve is found in Galatians 5:13 (AMP):

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

In discussing the two concepts of freedom and serving one another, one encounters a most provocative, related term translated from the Greek word doulos, meaning “servant”, “bond servant,” or “bond-slave,” or “slave.” In fact, the verb “to serve” in Galatians 5:13 is derived from the Greek word doulos and has been translated “to be a slave, to serve or render service or serving.”
Paul reiterates the message that though as a believer he is free in Christ, yet he chooses to serve others:

1 Corinthians 9:19 (AMP):

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].

As believers the state or condition whereby we have been called to salvation is liberty or freedom: freedom from the yoke of bondage, freedom from the chains that bind us in sin. We are, however, not to use our freedom as an occasion for the flesh or as an excuse or pretext for indulging our selfish desires. Instead, we are to be servants, those bound by love to serve one another.
In the midst of our times that preclude a super-abundant harvest season, we must learn

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again
with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5, 6

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,
To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give
All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part
To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,
For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.
The legacy that fulfills God’s will lives beyond
The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain.
This precious token of our covenant, the bond
Of devotion to the Master, perfected love
Is shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in peace
That passes understanding, flowing from above.
As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.
Freely we have received that we might come to know
The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

The Verse of the Day brought to mind once more the significance of the metaphor of the “servant” or “bond-slave” as revealed in the Scriptures. The portrayal of this Biblical figure has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America. In the early 1970s or thereabout, I was introduced to the previously mentioned Greek term “doulos.” In 1975 I produced an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave.” 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. A year ago, I re-posted a blog here at “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe” which also featured the original article along with poetry and music videos related to the term “doulos.” Click here to access a link to that entry that might be of interest.

Without question, “to serve” is one of the most powerful verbs in the English language. Listen to this excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct,” unforgettable sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who unfolds the beauty and simplicity in the words “To serve.”

To serve: part of the celebration

January 18, 2016

martin luther king jr

In celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this tribute is offered:

. . . man behind the name

the name

the good brother
hammered out his
“Here I stand,
I can do none other. . .”
and forged “A mighty fortress”

the name

the same name
thunders through four centuries

anchored with a surname
a paradox,
oxymoronic nature of a servant/King

the name

weight of that name
burden of the same name
obligation to be true
to one’s namesake
as Ellison’s hidden name and complex fate
resounds from age to age the same–
the battle cry to defy the status quo

more than the name
is the memory of the man
behind the name

reflections on the man
behind the name
mirror commonalities
threads intertwine in black and gold
the life of this preacher,
teacher of the Word,
Walker’s prophet for a new day,
husband, father, mentor and more,
fellow-laborer in the Lord,
fellow bondslave and brother
heeding the higher calling

      first of all,
      servants of all,
      we shall transcend all

. . . the man behind the name

the man

praying, preaching,
leading through troubled waters
following in the steps of Christ,
along the higher path of love

the man

buked and scorned,
called everything,
including child of God,
tested, arrested, tried and sentenced
penning his letter from a Birmingham jail

the man

sitting down and standing up,
protesting and marching and singing

Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!
Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!
Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round!
Keep on marchin’; keep on movin’; keep on marchin’ toward the freedom land”

from Selma to Montgomery to Memphis
where he waved and smiled the last time

the man. . .the man. . .the man

uprooting burdock and stink weed,
bitter roots of prejudice
that blight the land
planting peace lilies instead

the man

images forever etched in my mind
eloquent, passionate dreamer
working to weave into reality
his multi-colored dream of possibility
the vista of that gathering
with echoes of his oration
before the People of Promise
arm-over-arm, hand-in-hand
swaying in rhythmic waves
across the multitude of faces
singing softly in unison
this choir of celestial voices
“. . . Black and white together. . .”
embracing refrains from the anthem of his age:

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome, someday.
Oh, deep in my heart I do believe
We shall overcome, someday.

 

MLK Day of Service:

An essential element of the Martin Luther King celebration is the MLK Day of Service, as Americans across the nation are encouraged to participate in community service with “A Day On, Not a Day Off!”

Throughout his life, Dr. King sought to forge the common ground on which people from all walks of life could join together to address important community issues. Working alongside individuals of all ages, races and backgrounds, Dr. King encouraged Americans to come together to strengthen communities, alleviate poverty, and acknowledge dignity and respect for all human beings. Service, he realized, was the great equalizer when he stated:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

Dr. King recognized the importance of serving others with the following statement from the sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct”, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church February 4, 1968:

“…He who is greatest among you shall be a servant. That’s the new definition of greatness…Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.”

The accompanying video “To Serve” is an excerpt from that sermon: