“If I am not a servant of others, by process of elimination I am then a servant to myself. And that serves no one.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough
Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, He did and said many things that were largely misunderstood and confusing. In fact, the gospels tell us of an incident when Jesus was preparing His disciples for His death in Jerusalem. As the disciples processed the information they were given, they began to debate among themselves who would be the greatest among them in Christ’s kingdom. Jesus explained that they were not to be like Gentile rulers who exercise authority over others. Instead, they were to demonstrate true greatness by becoming a servant to others. He declared that He had not come to be served, but to serve and give His life for others (Matthew 20:25–28).
If we are honest, we can admit there are concepts within Christian doctrine that are easy to accept and embrace and others that are not. Does it not feel good to focus upon love, salvation, honor, glory, joy, hope, and peace? Perhaps thoughts of righteousness, victory, or paradise inspire you. Clearly there is nothing wrong with any of these concepts. They are indeed biblical, but they depict an incomplete doctrine if left alone. We must not exclude the biblical teachings on sin, humility, service, and sacrifice.
We Americans value personal achievement, self-determination, individual rights and privileges, material comforts, competition, and free enterprise. These values are not inherently wrong, but they often run contrary to how the Bible teaches Christians to live. The Apostle Paul tells the believers in Philippi to do nothing out of selfish ambition but to humbly consider others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3–4).
Imagine how different our lives would be if we would willingly serve others and place the needs of others above our own. How might that impact problems with hunger, education, crime, depression, anxiety, homelessness, or health care? What would happen if we would do good to all people when the opportunity arises (Galatians 6:10)?
Lent began on Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2021). As we prepare our hearts for Good Friday and the celebration of Easter, may we sincerely repent of the desire to live self-centered lives. May we look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. May we embrace this challenge to humbly serve others as genuine followers of Christ.
Rev. Amelia Cleveland-Traylor, M.D., is a superintendent of the River Conference and a member of the Free Methodist Church – USA Board of Administration.