On Veterans Day we hear a lot about “those who have served.” We want to express our appreciation to those who have spent a major portion of their lives defending and protecting others in the service of our country. It is right and proper that we should do so, for the Bible says, “Render unto all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor,” (Rom. 13:7).
In addition to our military personnel, many others are engaged in what might be called “the service professions.” Firefighters, emergency medical technicians, first responders, nurses and other medical caregivers are servants. So are accountants, attorneys, and hundreds of other professionals who provide important services to those in need. They help others by using their talents, education and skills. I have also known of many carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who gave unselfishly of their abilities to help someone in need. They were servants.
The thing which makes these people special is what might be called a “servant mentality” which enables them to recognize that they are on this earth for someone other than themselves. They are “here to serve.” There is an unselfish nature to their lives which causes them to think about others above themselves. Life is more than putting in our required time, receiving our wages, and spending them on ourselves. Life is about improving the condition of others, helping those in need.
The Bible is full of reminders that we are here to serve. Jesus taught that servants will be rewarded ultimately: “For I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me,” (Mt. 25:35-36). To such servants, the Lord on the last day will say, “Come, ye blessed of my father,” (vs. 34). These are the people who thought about others. They felt the pain of those who were hungry or thirsty or underdressed. They visited the sick and the oppressed. They took time from their own interests to think about and provide for the needs of others. They realized that they were not isolated travelers on this planet, but part of the human race, children of God.
Servants typically don’t get much credit, for they are humble and content to be in the background. Jesus “took on the form of a servant” and “humbled himself,” (Phil. 2:7-8). He was not interested in receiving credit for his service, but humbly went about helping others who were in no position to repay him. Jesus reminds us that those who seek to be congratulated and honored for their service “have received their reward,” (Mt. 6:2, 5, 16).
Servants expect to suffer. They know that it is not easy to help others, and it will sometimes be expensive, unpleasant, and unappreciated. Sometimes those who need the most help are the least appreciative, or the most arrogant. They may think they know it all, and don’t need any help from you. Remember that Jesus was the greatest servant of all, but his service was unappreciated by many. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his Lord…If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household,” (Mt. 10:24-25). Your service may not always be welcome, and it may be costly or difficult to render. It may be a hardship. Paul exhorted Timothy to “suffer hardship with me as a good soldier,” (2 Tim. 2:3). The way of service is sometimes hard.
Servants don’t do it for the money, or the praise of men. The apostle Paul had the right idea when he said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly then they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me,” (1 Cor. 15:10). Paul, a great servant of God, recognized that he had been abundantly served by Jesus Christ. God’s grace had been poured out on him in abundance. The least he could do was labor and work for the Master. The more we remember how much God has done for us, the more effective our service will be, and the better attitude we will have as a servant.
All Christians, regardless of their military history, must be servants. In whatever walk of life, wherever stationed, and whatever our circumstances may be, we need to remember that the world does not revolve around us. We may not get much credit, and it may at times be very difficult. But, Christians have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, saved by the grace of God, and understand that we are “here to serve!”
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.