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The Heart of a Servant
Earlier this week, one of my past students made their way into my classroom to say hello. Mask and all, I could still see their glowing eyes and brightening smile behind the veil that hides us all. Although their body was still, I could see the anticipation of good news jumping up and down within them. They wanted to tell me one of their most significant accomplishments that summer because they said they knew I always believed in their greater potential. After sharing, I couldn’t have felt more proud.
Especially as someone who sees themselves writing long-term and full-time someday, I often forget the blessing of where I’m at in my educational endeavors. As a High School English teacher, I spend my days teaching writing, grammar, figurative language, and Shakespeare, but when I get home, I can’t wait to pour out the Lord’s words within me that beg to be written and shared. I am often guilty of ignoring the heart of a servant at work (even if my actions reveal otherwise) because I’m so hyper-focused on having the heart of a servant in my writing.
In Philemon Chapter 1:1-11, Paul begins our chapter by asking Philemon to welcome back a runaway slave named Onesimus, who had since become a Christian. As a personal handwritten letter to Philemon, Paul sent his words from the prison cells that kept him chained physically, but not in any other way. And while a letter sent from Rome during 60 A.D. may sound unrelated to one’s heart condition, let me explain.
In his letter, Paul is clear that he’s thankful for his friendship with Philemon because of the faith in Christ and love for the Saints he had heard he possessed. As a reminder, though, Paul prayed that Philemon would forgive Onesimus (the runaway slave) and be active in sharing his faith with others to have a further grasp of the Gospel. Talk about a weighty challenge to uphold!
“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” (Philemon 1:4-7, NIV).
Not only does Paul ask Philemon to forgive a man who was to serve him, but to “put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ” (Philemon 16, NLT).
Today, I wonder if we are active in not only forgiving others and sharing our faith but expressing the heart of servant with those we supposedly serve. I try my best to serve students with an open, loving, and Christ-filled heart every day. I always forgive, wear my heart on my sleeve, and take home many stories that will never leave my heart.
But I fail a lot, too. There are days I am grumpy, wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or feel like I’m going to explode after John asks me 36 times to go to the bathroom (the answer is still no).
I am still a work in progress when it comes to actively sharing faith in my classroom and maintaining a servant’s heart at all times. I am also still growing in getting involved with missions, organizations, and ways to serve the Lord. Some days are much more complicated, and some are easier than others. But one thing I know for sure is this: If Christ died to serve me, I must die to self daily to serve Him and allow Him to serve others through me (Romans 6:1-11, ESV). We can find the essence and beauty of dying to self and serving the Lord in Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
As I pray to work on and grow towards this type of living, I ask you, wherever you are, to join me.
Pray with Me:
Lord, we want to be more active and proactive in sharing the Gospel not only to understand Christ and the Gospel more, growing closer to you, but knowing that acknowledging it is the right, holy, pleasing, and desirable thing our hearts long to do! However you see fit, Lord, use us.
As Paul prayed for Philemon, I pray over each of you today. That we may be active in sharing our faith so that we will have a complete understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
We will not experience the fullness of Christ until we learn to give ourselves away like Jesus did and serve other people.
“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 10:45, NASB).
Especially those we can’t stand, or those who ask us 36 times to go to the bathroom in one class period, those are the people that need to see the heart of a servant within us most.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11, NKJV).
Go in servanthood today,