July 9, 2020

Serve Not Be Served

Written by Tripp Prince

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 9, 2020

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ Matthew 20:24-28

From our youngest days we’re taught, directly and indirectly, that there are certain values that animate our world and lead to a successful and meaningful life. A drive to succeed. A vision for where you’re headed. Networking with people of significance and purpose. On and on we could go. And while, rightly understood, these values can be a meaningful part of the Christian life, I fear they far too often work their way into our hearts and minds without us ever pausing to notice or question their merits and effect on our overall outlook on life and our place in the world.

Jesus Christ is not primarily concerned with your status or your significance. In fact, he was quick to call people out when they fell into the trap of believing their primary purpose in life was to be honored, respected, or secure. These impulses may be natural, but they are not kingdom values.

One of the many effects of sin upon the human soul is how it moves us away from the peace and comfort of our Lord and pushes us into places of persistent and chronic fear. So many of our choices in life are animated by fear. Fear of losing something or someone we hold dear. Fear of being rejected. Fear of not having enough. Fear of failure. And when we live and make decisions from these places of fear, we are overcome by a love of self and are primarily interested in our own preservation at any cost. Generosity becomes conditional, giving to others only when we know that our own bases are covered. Relationships stall out and fail to develop because we’re afraid of the vulnerability and transparency required to take the next step. Societal fears become solidified when we allow our personal fears to keep us from moving towards the other in love.

The words of Jesus require a complete reorientation to what is good, beautiful, and true. They demand that we lay down our fears, our thirst for power, our quest for significance, and our blindness to how we contribute to the suffering of others. Jesus does not open this up for discussion. As someone who loved the art of a well-formed question, here he instead gives us an explicit command: “It will not be so among you.” 

There is no place in God’s kingdom for self-exaltation or the pursuit of personal glory. The Church in every age must relentlessly pursue the way of humility and self-giving love, constantly reorienting our personal and corporate lives around the example of Jesus, the one who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Father, give us eyes to see the world through the lens of your coming kingdom, and teach us to live as citizens of that kingdom, faithfully embodying its values day by day, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.


How can you actively and intentionally pursue humility today through the way you serve others?

Related Reading

2 Chronicles 7:14; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 5:6-7

Enjoy Boyd’s newest and well loved 40 day devotional book: Wisdom For Living. Wise living is all about the Lord Jesus Christ. What is His best? What is His will?

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