Yesterday we thought of how Paul described himself and Timothy as servant leaders. Of course, it is not only leaders who are to have this attitude. Every Christian has to regard himself as a slave of Jesus Christ. So what are some aspects of this essential attitude?
The first aspect to note regarding this attitude is that a believer should continually remember that he was purchased by Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 he writes: ‘ For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.’ When Jesus died on the cross, he delivered us from the slavery of sin. But he did not liberate us into a life of licence; instead he purchased us in order that we should be his slaves. In the ancient world, a slave was often branded, usually on the forehead, with a sign of ownership that indicated to whom he belonged. Jesus, our Master, has branded us with the sign of the Holy Spirit. Whenever a slave saw his brand, it reminded him to whom he belonged. Similarly, the Spirit continually reminds believers that they were bought with a price, that they are not their own, that they serve Jesus Christ.
A second aspect of this attitude is humble submission to Jesus Christ. It is the working out of the Christian confession, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ This is not merely a confession that Jesus is in control of all things, which he is; it is also a confession by each Christian that he is ‘my’ Lord.
A third aspect of this attitude is that the believer has an unquestioning recognition of the requirements of Jesus Christ. When a master sent a slave out on a task, he expected the slave to fulfil it, to be faithful to it. The slave was not expected to adjust the requirements depending on the situation. It is the same with believers who realise that they are servants. Their Master’s word is their rule.
A fourth aspect is that the believer wants to please Jesus Christ. Obviously, a Christian does not want to cause unnecessary offence. Yet his primary aim is to please Jesus, and this goal will cause him to make difficult choices, some of which may upset or disturb or even amuse others. A submissive believer has his eye continually on the time when he shall appear before the judgement seat of Christ, and he longs to hear from Jesus the commendation, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’
A fifth aspect of this attitude is that the submission of Paul and Timothy to Jesus Christ was also a glad submission. They were delighted to serve him, and their joy came from knowing his approval and blessing.