Serving Is Greatness

One of the reasons bondservants chose to stay with their master was because life was so much better in the master’s care. Perhaps sometimes bondservants would reflect on how life was before.

They could remember how miserable the nights were hoping someone would let them stay in their home. They could recall how painful it was watching their children miss another meal. They could still feel the hopelessness and the emptiness. They remembered the embarrassment of wandering the streets at night with no place to go.

And life with their master, while not perfect, was so much better, so much more meaningful. Do you remember how empty life was away from your Master, apart from a relationship with God? Is not greatness found with your Master?

David cried to God, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Ps. 84:10 NIV). David is saying, I would rather be a doorkeeper, a bouncer in God’s house, than live large in the tents of the wicked because true greatness comes from serving God.

Unfortunately we sometimes forget that true greatness is serving our Master. We often suffer from memory loss as Christians, forgetting where greatness is found and living confused and misdirected lives.

In the movie Memento, the main character has an odd medical condition where he has no short-term memory. His wife was murdered, and he was injured during the attack. He can remember everything before the tragedy, but since the tragedy he has no short-term memory. His world is extremely confusing because in the middle of a conversation he forgets whom he is talking to, where he is, or why he is there.

Every few minutes he completely blanks out and starts over. To cope, he carries a Polaroid camera around with him and takes pictures of people he meets. He writes notes on the back of the photographs, telling himself whom he can and cannot trust. He tattoos important notes on his body, and he references the photographs and the markings on his body to navigate his everyday life.

Tragically he trusts the wrong people and records incorrect markings on his body and on the Polaroid pictures. Because he relies so heavily on the notes he leaves for himself, he makes horrific decisions because he trusted the wrong people. He was marked by the wrong influences.

Do you ever live with memory loss, forgetting who you are?

Like the character in Memento, we often listen to the wrong voices and are marked by the wrong influences. When we are marked by the wrong influences, our daily lives are tragic attempts to please ourselves. The bombardment of messages telling us that we exist for ourselves contributes to our spiritual amnesia. And the messages detailing narcissistic methods to enjoy life are plentiful.

In recent years one of the most popular books in our culture was The Secret. The premise of the book is that you are the center of the universe, and you can attract all good things to yourself through your thoughts. The universe exists to serve you, and the secret is that you can attract greatness to yourself. In essence, you are your own god. So serve yourself. Jesus says the opposite.

If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all. (Mark 9:35)

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many. (Mark 10:43–45)

God’s kingdom is an upside-down kingdom. In God’s economy, true greatness comes from serving. For Jesus, last is the new first. If you choose to be a servant now, you will be first for all of eternity. If you choose to serve in this brief life, you will be rewarded for all of eternity.

Jesus did more than speak about serving; He lived the reality of His upside-down kingdom. He set the example for us.

Adapted from Identity (2008, B&H Publishing Group)