I have heard it said that you can assess how well you are doing at being a servant by how you respond when you are treated like one.
This is a test that I regularly fail. I may look on the outside like I’m handling it well, but my inside is another matter entirely.
Recently I was called into a meeting which didn’t go the way I would have liked. I felt disrespected and my motives in a situation were misunderstood. It was definitely not enjoyable.
I may have kept my cool until I got into my truck, but I was not a happy camper on the way home and for the remainder of the day.
My response to the meeting revealed my unwillingness to be treated like a servant. Yes, I am aware of the whole first will be last thing, but there is still a gap between my head and my heart too much of the time.
This evening, while I was studying the introduction to Philippians, I was reminded of the seriousness of this failure. As Paul does in most of his letters, he refers to himself a slave of Jesus Christ. Some English Bibles translate the word doulos as bond-servant, others as bond-slave, but just plain slave or servant is also a good translation.
Servants don’t have rights to exercise. They don’t often have the right to complain about the requirements of the their service. They do what is required of them as part of their service.
Paul took on his service to Jesus Christ voluntarily in response to the great salvation that he was given. MacArthur writes:
“When used in the New Testament of a believer’s relationship to Jesus Christ, doulos describes willing, determined, and devoted service. It reflects the attitude of an Old Testament slave who refused the opportunity for freedom and voluntarily resubmitted himself to his master for life.”MacArthur Commentary on Philippians
So the lesson I learn is that if I am doing well at being a servant of Jesus Christ, I will be in a better position to be a servant to others, even when they treat me with disrespect. I don’t have to like the treatment, but I don’t have to be dismayed by it either.
Conversely, if I am struggling with how I am treated by others, it is a good indication that I am not resting in the knowledge of my position in Christ.
The bottom line is that I don’t need to be validated by others when I am a servant of Jesus Christ, because Jesus gives me the ultimate status as a child of God.