Servant-hearted people are beautiful to observe. They bring meals to new moms, write cards to the sick, give their neighbors a ride and so much else. Today we will see that serving others is a natural overflow of a Christian who is abiding in Christ. As we learn to be still and know God more we begin to abide in Christ. Abiding in God’s love fills our hearts so much that the old selfish heart grows into a servant’s heart.Abiding in God's love fills our hearts so much that the old selfish heart grows into a servant's heart. Click To Tweet
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you… This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” John 15:1, 12
What Is a Servant’s Heart
As we learn to abide in Christ, I hope you noticed we are zeroing in on the core Spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith. All of them are modeled after the life of Christ. Jesus had (or still has rather) a servant’s heart.
Looking at the life of Christ we see the perfect example of how to abide in the love of God. Today as we take a closer look we will answer some questions that are common as we grow in this area of our faith.
- What does servant love mean?
- How do you develop a servant’s heart?
- What the Bible says about a good servant?
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The most perfect example of a servant’s heart is found in Jesus.
Jesus loved. He loved with a fierce, jealous love. Jesus served others naturally and gave us specific directions about serving others. We see in the life of Jesus an example that we can never live up to. But we can spend a lifetime trying.
To fully understand the heart of servants, we must look at Scripture on servants’ hearts.
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What The Bible Says About A Good Servant
When we see Bible verses about having a servant’s heart we see a theme. God values servants.
“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11 NASB)
“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)
There is no spiritual hierarchy in God’s family. Looking at a servant’s heart Bible verse, the greatest is the least, and the master serves. Jesus tells us repeatedly to consider others and put their needs ahead of our own. Those are hard words to live by but they shine God’s light to a lost and dying world.
What Does It Mean to Have a Servant’s Heart?
Having a servant’s heart happens the more we become a servant. But, what does servant mean?
- a person who performs duties for others
Typically when we think about a servant we think of someone doing the lowest jobs for little to no pay. You will find people who do not know Jesus who have characteristics of a servant’s heart. They love to serve others, naturally, put themselves last, and so on.
What Is A Servant in Biblical Terms?
To understand a servant’s heart definition from a Biblical worldview we need to see the reason behind service. We can just add on the love of God to a servant’s heart definition to picture this concept.
- a person who serves others because they are filled with God’s love and long to show God’s love to others.
What does a servant’s heart mean for a Christian? A servant’s heart lives in a believer because we are servants of God’s love!
A Biblical servant has a different heart attitude about serving, doing the lowest jobs with little to no recognition. We grow a servant heart, meaning a heart that’s first response is to help, to give, to love. When you abide in God’s love, a desire to give selfless love to others grows.
We serve others because God has served us and has given us that example to follow. Serving others, loving others, and being the hands and feet of God progressively becomes who we are as we grow in faith. You become a servant of God when you learn to be still and know God more!
How Do You Develop a Servant’s Heart?
What it means to be a servant of God is more about the heart attitude than what you do. So it stands to reason, that developing a servant-hearted attitude requires practice with all of the Spiritual disciplines we have been learning in this series.
How do you develop a servant’s heart?
- Practice the Spiritual Disciplines
- Follow Biblical examples
- Overcome Obstacles
- Honest reflection
Examples of a Servant’s Heart in the Bible
To see how others developed the heart of a servant, let’s look at examples of a servant’s heart in the Bible. We will just see an overview of each of these servants of God’s love. I’ll leave a link to the passages for you to go deeper if you want.
There are so many examples of having a servant’s heart that we could make entire Bible Studies out of this topic alone. For our time we will look at three Old Testament characters and then Jesus.
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The story of Joseph can be found beginning in Genesis 37. In Joseph, we see a great example of someone who developed a servant’s heart the hard way.
At the start, Joseph was a spoiled rotten brat. He was handsome and smart and his father’s favorite son. All of those things led to a lifetime spent as a slave, separated from everything and everyone he loved. Though falsely accused and badly treated, somehow Joseph forgave and grew in faith. He served God even when no one knew his God.
Through the sovereign plan of God, a mature man, one who forgave and loved God wholeheartedly was able to serve. Joseph served God by using the gifts God gave him to save the world from starvation.
Another example from the Bible of a servant of God’s love is Moses. Moses’ tale begins in Exodus 2 and through it, we again see a man who was not naturally a servant.
Moses was raised by his mother and the daughter of Pharoah. He seems to have started out privileged, entitled, and proud. In a moment of righteous anger, Moses put himself above the law and was forced to run for his life.
God allowed Moses 40 years of humbling life in the wilderness raising sheep. Throughout the time he becomes a man who honors God and serves Him well.
God calls Moses to sacrifice everything, risk his life even, to serve Him on an epic scale.
The story of Ruth can be found in the book of Ruth. Ruth was not born an Israelite. She married into a Jewish family during a time of drought and somehow fell in love with the God of Jacob. If ever there was a woman with a servant’s heart, it was Ruth.
This foreign woman willingly followed her widowed mother-in-law back to Israel. While there she was mocked and had to beg for food (walking with the beggers gleaning food from the field of Boaz).
We see her humble herself repeatedly to care for Naomi. We also see Ruth’s heart of a servant in the legacy she left behind in king David.
All of Jesus’ life is an example of living with a servant’s heart, but I want to show you something deeper in His story.
Jesus served others selflessly. He set the perfect example. Why? Of course, He was God and God’s Son and perfect, but I see a deeper meaning here in John 14.
“Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:12-15 NASB)
What does servant love mean? Do the greater works of serving others because of love. Jesus served because He loved. He loved us. He loved God. Jesus is love and love serves.
Having A Servant’s Heart
What does it look like to be a servant of God? What do we see from the examples above?
- A servant of God puts the needs of others above the needs of self.
- Servants let the preferences of others take priority.
- A servant loves people as they are, giving them the grace to grow in God’s time.
Something else we learned from the examples above is that we are not just born servant-hearted. Whew! Aren’t you glad to know that we can develop this over time?
What Does a Servant Do?
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10 NASB)
When we admit our sin and invite God to rule in our lives, He gives us the Holy Spirit. There are gifts and talents given to each Christian. When we serve others we use those gifts. Whew again! I don’t have to serve others the way Sally does. Nope, God gave us different gifts so our service will look different.
Some examples of serving others with God’s love:
- Walk with the widow next door.
- Write encouraging cards to the sick or shut-ins at your local nursing home.
- Greeting people as they come into your church.
- Clean up after the t-ball game.
- Find someone sitting alone at Church and sit with them.
- Invite someone to your Bible study.
- Tip the waitress at lunch instead of leaving a track for her.
- Spend time at the local homeless shelter.
We each have gifts and talents that help equip, encourage and build up the Body of Christ. Are you using them?
Obstacles: Do You Have a Servant’s Heart Why or Why Not?
Having a servant’s heart… that’s the goal, but it’s just not in my nature. Oh, how I wish I were more like Jesus in that way.
I am selfish, controlling, and prideful.
It is a real struggle for me to put the needs of others first. I think first and foremost of my own needs. Can you relate?
To relinquish my own control of a situation and let someone else have their preference is hard. I feel strongly about the things I prefer. My way is the right way, after all.
That is Pride. Pride is a sin that will turn others away from God.
“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13 NASB)
Pride is a sin of the flesh. Serving others – selfless love – is the cure for pride. It’s like a medicine I have to force myself to drink every day.
Today I am far less prideful and selfish than I was 10 years ago. Maybe I will have a servant’s heart in 10 more years.
Today it is my desire to set pride, selfishness, and control aside and want the things God wants.
Another reason I struggle to be a servant is hurt. People don’t always accept servant love well. In the past when I have tried to serve others I have been taken advantage of by some. Still, others mistook my motives as manipulative and spoke to me in ways that hurt deeply. When you have been hurt while serving it makes you think twice before serving again.
Maybe you have been burned by loving others before. Will you try again today? Why try again to develop a servant’s heart? Because it is a heart attitude that God desires? Can you forgive the hurt done by others?
I can relate to the struggle to live in selfless love. When I tried in the past I got hurt. People took advantage… But God took me through a process to learn to forgive others and find freedom in Him. I’d love to share that with you today.
Do You Serve God?
“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:26 NASB)
To serve God is to be where God is. God is always serving others. God has a servant’s heart. If you want to serve God you must serve others. I say it to myself as much as to you. It is so easy for some. Is it easy for you?
Learning to be still, leads to learning to abide in Christ. Abiding in God’s love inspires selfless love which leads to serving others from a servant’s heart.
This is the pattern God keeps repeating to me – all over my toes.
“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5 NASB)
I love God. It is my desire to love Him, follow Him, serve Him… But the process of growing that servant heart in me is slow.
A Prayer to Grow a Servant’s Heart
You gave the perfect example. You served everyone, You met their needs. I long to live by Your example and abide in You, but it is not natural or easy for me. It goes against my basic wiring. I am selfish and prideful and controlling. Forgive me.
Help me see the needs of others through Your eyes. Give me Your heart of compassion to love others in Your selfless way.
Show me one person, I can serve today and give me the boldness to do it. Shine Your light through me to others. Help me put their needs and preferences above my own. Mold me more and more into Your image today Lord.
Will You Develop A Servant’s Heart Today?
We know that our God is a God of love who serves selflessly. Jesus lived out that example and made a point of it in His last weeks on earth. We must become true disciples of God. We must develop a servant’s heart today.
How do we develop the heart of a servant?
- Practice the Spiritual Disciplines
- Follow Biblical examples
- Overcome Obstacles
Lastly, I would add that practice makes progress with this as with all of the disciplines. Keep at it and see how God grows a servant-hearted attitude in your life.
If you enjoyed this, you will love these posts:
- How to Have a Servant’s Heart & Reclaim Joy in Marriage
- How to Really Give Your Life To God in Full Surrender
- 7 Ways to Begin Walking in the Grace of God