The Bible has a different definition of a servant than the one most people today think. Today, a servant is seen as someone who is more of a volunteer. They have their own life and live accordingly. They serve an eight-hour day.
The Bible definition of a servant is found in Exodus 21:1-6. This is someone who voluntarily gives up their life to serve 24/7. They die to self, and live to serve their master. It may look like a slave, but it is not a slave. (There is a trend in Christianity today to call it a slave. This is in direct denial of John 8:36 and Galatians 5:1.)
To serve God in this way shows up in horizontal service. That is service to people here on earth. Vertical worship and service toward God) shows up in horizontal service and love (toward people). It takes humility toward God and toward people. There is not a choice as to whom the servant shows humility and service. It is to all those he/she meets. (James 4:17, “therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”)
- A volunteer says, “I would like to do this, or that; but not that.”
- A servant says, “How may I help you? What do you need?”
- A volunteer quits when they want to.
- A servant stays to the end. If the master says, “do”, he “does”, even if he is dying.
- A volunteer seeks to be understood by the one/ones they serve.
- A servant seeks to understand the heart of the one they serve. (not the ones they are providing service to, but the one to whom they answer in their service, think of the waitress/waiter who serves customers, but answers to the boss.)
- A volunteer serves to please themselves or “at their pleasure”.
- A servant serves to please the leader/master.
- Volunteers reject humiliation/ reproach/ being despised/ and not getting any recognition.
- Servants not only accept humiliation/ reproach/ being despised/ and not getting any recognition; they embrace it when it happens. (they do not seek it, because they don’t even seek humility for themselves)
In the church, many volunteer/yet say they serve. Their business blinds them to their heart. It works because they say that they are serving God. The test of whether they serve or volunteer is whether or not they serve as described in this article. The test is found in how they serve in the horizontal relationships in this world.
If you are not saying, “What would you like me to do to “a Person”, it is possible that you are not saying it to God. If you are not seeking to serve “under” the leadership of a person, it is likely that you are a volunteer, doing “your own thing.” Good servants of God seek not only to understand God’s heart; they also seek to understand the heart of the leader that God has given them.
There are exceptions where there is no human leader to serve. They are few and far between. In the Bible, when there were exceptions, there was always submission and respect to the authorities that could not be served. (think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Daniel chapter 3)
The motivation for this heaven honoring, God honoring kind of service is found in Exodus 21:5 where the part time servant chooses to be a full time servant and says, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:” (to do my own thing)
And it is wonderful to see how God sees this servant. John 15:15, Jesus speaking, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I
have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
Are you a servant or a volunteer?