Cultivating a Servant’s Heart

Zebra Slot Canyon, Escalante Park Photo by Ashley Swenson

Where are you worshiping from this morning? In this time when it’s scary just to be together, the church can be anywhere. God created some beautiful places for us to enjoy. What better way to do it than worship there? The photo above was taken by my daughter who lives in Utah. Gorgeous photos I’ve seen in her Instagram feed. We were supposed to go out there for a few days later this month, but we decided to delay our trip due to the pandemic.

But, that’s not going to stop me from worshiping this morning. I’d rather be at church, but this morning we watched our pastor’s online message. Today’s message comes to us from Philippians 2:17-30. In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he reminds us that as believers we will endure hardships.

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Philippians 2:17-18

When they sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins, they would pour the liquid offering out on the altar. It seems that Paul is referring to this practice, indicating that he may be near death. Paul had spent much time pouring himself into the Church and his two younger friends, Timothy and Epaphroditus. He depended on them as they helped him carry out his mission to spread the gospel. But he looked forward to the future, knowing that as a servant of the Lord his death was something to be rejoiced. He would get his reward. That was something to celebrate. He knew his death was possible because of his captivity.

As we cultivate a servant’s heart, we must endure hardships, but that we will receive a servant’s honor. Paul had modeled himself after Jesus and the way he came to serve. He passed the passion to serve in this way to Timothy and Epaphroditus.

Paul wanted the Philippians to see his life as a sacrifice for Jesus Christ. He wants them to adopt the same attitude. The life of a servant is not without hardship, but it comes with a reward.

Paul knew that the Philippians would still have Timothy there with them. He had served with Paul and proven his worth. They were going to be in good hands.

But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.

Philippians 2:25-27

Epaphroditus was worried about the Philippians being worried about him!. Did you get that? He had worked himself almost to death in spreading the gospel, but he was concerned about them and how they were dealing with his illness.

There is hardship in the loss of Timothy who has been his friend. And hardship in Epaphroditus and his commitment to his service to God almost to the point of death.

Serving Christ is not easy. Christian service is often like being at war. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised when we as Christians come under attack. We must be tested to prepare us for these attacks.

As servants of Christ, we will endure hardships and they will test us. They will prepare us for the next battle that we’ll face.

Sometimes the persecution can come from outside and inside the church. We expect the world to be against us, but we don’t expect persecution from our own. But we have to be aware that sometimes what we see as service to Christ is covering self-righteousness. Things aren’t always as we see them.

So, if we know that becoming a servant of Christ will bring us hardship, why would we want to do that? Looking at hardship doesn’t sound like fun or happy times.

But if you choose to cultivate a servant’s heart and serve Jesus in serving his people, even though you will face hardship, he will never leave you. The hardships will make you stronger and prepare you for the tasks that lie ahead. But the best thing of all, is the prize at the end! Yes, when you get to see Jesus face to face and you hear the words,

Well done good and faithful servant

Matthew 25:23

You know, the end could come at any time. We won’t know when it’s coming. Jesus told us he’d come like a thief in the night. We can see signs all around us and know that the end is nearing. That may not be tomorrow, but death could come at any time. Are you ready? Please, don’t wait…

If you want to listen to Jon’s sermon, follow this link.

In Faith,

Pam

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