From the beginning, the idea of true servanthood has been a bit of a paradox.
Jesus phrased it well:
“For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves?” (Luke 22:27).
Naturally, His disciples would say, the lesser should serve the greater. All of life proves that. Those with no clout should do the dirty work for those who have the power. Right?
But Jesus, their Lord and Master, turned the tables on them, by saying: “But I am among you as the one who serves” (22:27). How can this be? Does the master serve the servants? Does the leader serve the one being led?
The beauty of selfless service is that it always puts others first, even the least of these, whoever and wherever they may be.
Maybe you were touched as I was by the story of students at a small college in Springfield, Ohio, who raised nineteen thousand dollars on their own to help build houses for the poor. They used money from payroll deductions, auctions, garage sales, and part-time jobs to help Habitat for Humanity build homes for underprivileged families in their community.
Or how about this unusual case? For years, an unknown philanthropist in Chicago has put valuable gold coins into the red kettles of Salvation Army volunteers. So far, the “Christmas Phantom” has given twenty thousand dollars to help the needy, without notice, without fanfare, without personal credit of any kind. What an excellent example of selfless service!
During all the furor over church burnings across the South and along the East Coast, the first good news I saw was the story of a group of multi-racial Christians—black, white, and brown—who were pitching in to help rebuild buildings and to patch up relationships in many of those hard-hit communities.
One story from Mississippi told about the busloads of believers who showed up at the sites of two burned-out churches with everything from nails to cash. Those who could hang sheetrock or install window frames brought their own tools. Those who could cook or watch young children for busy parents gave freely of their time. These people weren’t just building churches. They were investing in “the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
How encouraging to know that the fires someone had intended for evil were suddenly being used for good—for opportunities for ministry and love through simple acts of service.