Devotional: Not to be Served, But to Serve
I have been asked several times within the last few weeks how I am enjoying married life. Josh and I were married in June of last year, so we are past the “honeymoon phase” and have entered into a normal state of life. To every person who asks this, my response has been the same: “I LOVE it!” And this is absolutely true! I love being married to Josh. He is my very best friend and we have been blessed by the Lord in many ways through our relationship. But this does not mean that our marriage has been perfect; after all, we are two imperfect people. Before we were married, several people told us that we should be prepared to have our sin revealed to us in an up close and personal way through our marriage relationship. They weren’t wrong. One of the ways that I so often find myself being surprised by my own sin, is through my desire to be served by Josh, and my lack of desire to serve him.
A few weeks ago, Josh injured his back carrying a heavy bag of grain for me. It started out being uncomfortable and through exacerbation was made worse until he was in severe pain. Around this time, I was also experiencing back and neck pain as a side effect of my body changing throughout pregnancy. When Josh would tell me that his back was hurting, I found myself saying something along the lines of, “So does mine,” silently adding to myself, “and I’m sure it’s just as bad as yours.” Instead of loving and caring for Josh in his pain, I was focused on my own discomfort and making sure that Josh knew about it. I wanted him to forget his own struggle and enter into mine with grace, sympathy, and maybe even a physical act of caring, but I wasn’t worried about doing that for him; I was more concerned with how Josh could serve me.
In Mark 10:43-44, Jesus says this to His disciples: “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” (ESV) If I am being honest, I must acknowledge that I do not come by a servant mentality naturally, nor do I find myself eager to be a slave for all. Our relationships with our family members and spouses are some of the most intimate relationships we have, similar to the relationship the disciples had with Jesus. Through my marriage to Josh, I have had more opportunities to serve him than perhaps anyone else in my life. And yet, like the disciples approached Jesus asking something from Him, I find myself more worried about how Josh could be serving me. Why is it that the relationships we hold most dear are also the ones we expect the most from? I love Josh dearly, so why is my desire for him to do things for me instead of wanting to do things for him? Why have I also felt this way in my relationships with my family members and close friends?
When we forget or diminish the work of Jesus on the cross, we can easily slip into the mentality that we are here on this earth to be served, similar to the mentality that James and John had when they approached Jesus. In Mark 10:45, Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, in all of his glory, splendor, majesty, and power, humbled himself to live and die on this earth so that you and I might know the true meaning of service and sacrifice. As we grow in our understanding of the depth of His servitude, we are humbled by His willingness to do these things for us. Praise be to God that our salvation is not dependent on our service; but knowing how much we are loved by Christ (as seen through his sacrifice) gives us the ability to walk alongside those in our lives with a servant mentality. When we rest in the finished work of Christ, we find strength to serve those in our lives through the immeasurable grace of Jesus, giving freely of ourselves while resting in the knowledge that all of our needs are met by the one who gave His life for us.
I would encourage you, brothers and sisters, to take some time this week to ask God to search your heart. Ask Him to reveal to you where you are resisting His call to serve and where you are struggling to rest in Christ. Perhaps it is in your marriage (like me), or your relationship with your sibling, or maybe a close friend. Wherever you are struggling this week, take heart dear friends, that we need not be afraid to ask the Lord to show us our weakness, because we are covered by the unyielding grace of Christ that gives us the strength to serve as Jesus did: by loving God, loving people, and making disciples.