[Jesus] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
A second ingredient of servanthood that Paul explains in Philippians 2 is sacrifice. A few years ago, I was in a meeting with some other pastors and Rick Warren. Rick has been a friend for years. He is the pastor of a church that reaches thousands of people every week. He’s written the bestselling Christian book of all time next to the Bible. He regularly goes to the White House and counsels the president. He personally disciples some of the greatest figures in the business world and in the entertainment world. Yet Rick Warren is one of the humblest people I have ever known. When he was meeting with us, he said something I will never forget: “God grants us affluence and influence for one reason, and that is to build His kingdom, not ours.” That means whatever God has given us, we don’t hold on to. We give it up, just like Jesus did.
Paul says in Philippians 2:6–8 that Jesus, “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard his equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Now, it’s important to understand what Jesus emptied Himself of. He didn’t empty Himself of His deity. He didn’t give up being God. He couldn’t do that. That was who He was. What He gave up were His rights as God. He gave up all the perks and privileges that were His because God had granted them to Him. He willingly let go of those privileges to come to earth, to take on human form, and to die the most excruciating death of all, death on a cross. He gave up His privileges to meet our needs.
Now, most of us will never be called upon to make that kind of sacrifice. Nevertheless, there are sacrifices we are called upon to make for the benefit of others. For us, becoming a servant may mean sacrificing our pride and going to that person, even a subordinate, and admitting we were wrong. For you, sacrifice might mean giving up that amount of money you’ve set aside for some special purpose in order to meet a need of an aging parent or a child or somebody in the body of Christ who has a need. For you, a sacrifice might mean giving up your to-do list, the things you wanted to accomplish today, in order to be interrupted and meet the very real need of somebody God brings into your life.
Think about Jesus. He was on the most important mission of all time. Yet He was constantly interrupted. He allowed interruptions to come into His life so that He could take care of the woman who was bleeding uncontrollably or the coworker’s mother-in-law who fell ill or the guy who literally dropped in during one of His messages. To be a servant means you sacrifice your rights in order to meet the needs of other people.
Jesus’ life illustrates that to be a servant requires sacrifice—the willingness to give up something important to us to meet the needs of others.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Developing a Trusting Heart” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.