Our culture does an excellent job at identifying people by a title, position, or socioeconomic status. We often refer to someone based on his or her cultural background or what they do for a living. Family dynamics, abilities, talents, or relationship status can easily effect our perception of someone. As we live each day, this can be to our advantage, but it can also become a major detriment to what God is calling us to be and do!
Let me take a few moments to personalize my thoughts… I am blessed to be a part of an incredible Thursday morning Bible study with an awesome group of men. It is a very diverse group that God has brought together for a purpose. I am encouraged to see and hear the hearts of these men, all of whom desire to grow closer to Christ on a daily basis!
This past Thursday one of the guys began talking through the concept of a soldier and a servant. The majority of soldiers are known for being bold, tough, rough around the edges, and for being able to handle extremely difficult circumstances. We don’t ever hear of a soldier being lazy, reckless, or cowardice. In order to be successful, a soldier must learn to overcome fear, be disciplined in every aspect of life, and have the ability to efficiently get the job done. They are often fearless and at peace – even in the midst of war!
On the flip side, a servant is characterized by humility, compassion, grace, and submission. Unless I am eating at Dick’s Last Resort, I prefer a server who is looking out for my best interest, someone who is full of compassion and sympathy if something goes wrong, and is there to make my dinner the best experience possible, which can be very tough if all 5 of our children are out to eat with us!
Throughout his letters to the various churches, Paul combines characteristics of a servant and a soldier when challenging us on our spiritual journey. He begins every one of his letters by submitting to the calling God has placed on his life. His words are full of humility, recognizing His relationship to Christ. In Romans 1:1, Paul writes, ‘Paul, a servant of Christ…’ He uses the same word to begin his letter to the church of Philippi and in his letter to Titus.
Throughout the epistles, Paul challenges followers of Christ to live their lives in accordance with the humility of Jesus Christ – completely focusing on the needs of others before our own. In I Timothy 1:15, Paul describes himself as the worst of sinners. He is constantly humbling himself in the sight of man in order to lift up the cross of Christ.
At the same time, Paul writes extensively about the comparisons between a Christian and a soldier. He refers to our spiritual journey as a constant battle between sin and holiness. In Ephesians 6, he challenges Christians to put on the full armor of God so we can stand boldly against the temptations of this world. Shortly after Paul’s conversion, we see him begin living with an incredible boldness as He preaches and teaches the message of the Gospel. In Romans 1, Paul challenges us to not be ashamed of the Gospel message!
Are you unashamed of the Gospel? Is it the reason you do what you do and are who you are? Through a life of humility and boldness, are you characterized as a follower of Christ? Too often we are either prideful of our abilities and talents or ashamed of being who Christ wants us to be. We miss what it means to be humble in our character, yet bold in our faith! We are God’s servants, called by Him to be on the front lines, standing courageously for Him!
As we strive to become more like Christ, may we not miss the significance of standing firm on the truth of God’s Word, while also humbly approaching every aspect of life! As others see us, may our identity be found in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ!