Thursday, April 5, 2018
Philippians 2:7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Matthew 20:26 – 28 Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In 1988 I watched the nature of a man begin to be transformed. He went from being a self-centered alcoholic to a self-sacrificing servant of others. He was deeply impacted by the grace and love of Jesus Christ because he saw another man being a humble servant towards him. He watched as this servant of God shoveled cow manure out of the calf pens in his barn for several hours without complaint. He watched as this man who reflected God’s heart for sinners gave up his time to accomplish any chores he was assigned. Then one day, having earned the right to be heard, the farmer listened as the man answered his questions about faith and salvation. It took several years for the transformation to become truly evident after the moment of salvation, because there was a lot of sinful manure that needed to be shoveled from his life. But today, that man serves the Lord in a local church and has the nature of a servant that was modeled to him.
As you read Philippians 2, verses 6 and 7, you discover the word “nature” used twice – once to describe Christ’s equality with God, and once to describe the transformed character he took on as a human. It is very important for us to understand the extent of this transformation. Jesus did not simply learn the activities of a servant; He became a servant from the inside out. Every miniscule part of His being took on the nature of a servant. Every activity in which he was involved was motivated by the heart and mind of a servant. He did not have to debate with Himself over choices between serving self and serving others: His nature was to serve others. He did not get frustrated with the constant demands of people and the extreme exertion of energy it took to meet their needs. He was fulfilled by serving them because the activity matched His nature. He was not a “fish out of water” forcing Himself to serve people: He was in His natural element as He served because it was His nature to do so.
This both fascinates me and challenges me. I am fascinated by seeking to understand the depth of Christ’s love that He would surrender to such a transformation of His nature. I am also challenged by the significance it has for my life and yours. Jesus said in Matthew 20:26-28 that He is to be our model of serving. We are to be the servant of others “just as” Jesus was the servant of others. That means far more than just learning to do servant acts – it means experiencing the same transformation of our nature that Jesus experienced. We are to accept the very nature of Servant Jesus as our own.
When we come to Christ for salvation we become nothing and we accept from Him everything. We do not ask Him to improve what we already have, but rather we put to death everything that belonged to the old nature and we accept the new nature of Christ. It is a nature of love that manifests itself in serving others.
Do not think that this will be easy. It will be a daily struggle. Jesus knew this. He had fought off the attacks of Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness, but when He got to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion He was still fighting the temptation to serve self and not others. He even warned us that this would be a daily discipline when He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Becoming, by nature, a servant of others, can and must be done. We must become the visible expressions of the love of God for sinners by serving them, and we do that because it is now our nature to do so. Christ lives in us, not to fill in the holes in our old nature, but to transform our old nature into His. When the world sees true and transparent servanthood in our lives, they will listen to the Good News and accept it for themselves.
It’s time to take on the nature of a servant.