There is a particular verse in scripture that is rarely preached. Certainly, surrounding verses have been covered occasionally, but this particular sentence is passed over. Why? Because of slavery.
This particular verse has always been my favorite in all of scripture, but I have never heard a sermon on it. Which verse? It is 1 Corinthians 9:19.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. — 1 Corinthians 9:19
This verse holds a secret. It contains details of Paul's ministry and how one might become great in the kingdom of servants.
Paul labored to serve everyone so that he might lead them to the Lord. Do you ask yourself, "how can I serve this stranger?" Can I serve them in such a way that I can share Christ with them?
The Servant King
In this kingdom, there is a king. He is the greatest of all kings because he became a servant to all. There is not a member of his kingdom he has not served. Indeed, you cannot be his subject if he has not served you. His values are different from that of other kingdoms.
The members of his kingdom will be given their inheritance based on their service to others. How do we know these things? The King himself told us.
"It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." — Matthew 20:26-28
The rulers of the kingdoms of this world lord over their subjects and exercise authority over their citizens. Jesus said it shall not be this way with us. The greater the servant, the greater the reward, even to be first among many.
At the wedding feast, the Father of the King decreed that the least of those who have been gathered will sit closer to the King. In this, the King shall be honored along with those who have served.
Therefore, if we should like to sit closer to the King and be great in his kingdom, we should make ourselves of no report by serving everyone.
Do you do this? Do you serve others at the risk of your reputation, wealth, and pride? Do you serve even if it hurts? Is your mind on eternal things?
The Inheritance of Servants
There is an eternal inheritance to be earned in this world. We may consider it selfish to think of rewards and act on what we will receive, but the King himself did this.
Jesus, for the sake of the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God. He considered the eternal rewards for servitude and submitted himself to beatings, thorns, spit, nakedness, and eventually to the cross.
If we, therefore, seek to share in his inheritance, we must do likewise.
And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. — Luke 9:23-26
If we seek to share in his inheritance but despise humility and do not humble ourselves to serve others, we have no place with him. Instead, following him in his servitude will save our lives by laying it down. If we do not, we will lose our eternal reward when he comes.
Serving the Greatest Servant
If we, who believe in Christ, desire to serve the King, how shall we do it? How might we honor him if we desire to serve him who gave himself to us and for us?
While he does not refuse our service, he does direct us in how we should honor him. Yes, we lift him up with all praise, honor, and glory as only he deserves, but outside of singing praise, how is he glorified?
There are many ways in which we honor the King, but only one principle: service to others. Here are some ways we can honor the Lord.
- By serving other members in his kingdom we proclaim to all other kingdoms that we are citizens of his kingdom.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." — John 13:34-35
We honor the King when others know we are his citizens. We have rejected their kingdom for a better way. It is a way of service to each other, and in so doing, we serve the kingdom and the king.
2. In serving those in need, we serve the King directly. How can we give to a King who has everything? Through the generosity of our time and finances.
In Matthew 25, we see the nations judged by who they served. If the people served the least of his citizens, they served him. If they did not serve those in need, they did not serve him.
As members of his kingdom, we should see everyone in need as if the King himself is in need.
Read Matthew 25:31-46. See how the nations are judged and the humility the Lord has in putting himself in place of the "least of these."
3. We will be great in his kingdom by teaching service and obedience to others.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:19
When reading the great commission, too often, we overlook the command to teach obedience to the nations. The one who leads many to righteousness will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we belong to the kingdom of servants, and the greatest servant is the King. We must follow his lead.
Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus!
: Philippians 2:5-11
: John 13:8
: Daniel 12:3
: Matthew 20:20-28
: Matthew 22:1-14
: Luke 14:8
: Proverbs 25:6-7
: Colossians 3:1-2
: Hebrews 12:1-2
: 1 Corinthians 12:31
: Proverbs 19:17