John Barnett Discover the Book Daily Devotional
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Discover the Book - May 23, 2009

  • 2009 May 23

How to Be a Servant at Heart


Praying for Servant-Heartedness


May I give you a little quiz this morning?

·        Jesus said, I did not come to be served but to ______. (serve)

·        And the last shall be ______ (first).

·        I did not come to do my own ____ (will).


The greatest goal we have spiritually as parents is to raise children that are useful to God. Usefulness in Christ's kingdom is defined by one very precious quality – SERVANTHOOD. The words servants and servants and bondservants are used over 1000 times in the New Testament. That is about once every seven verses. That is very frequent! We are to be Christ's servants, and He is called a servant.


·        Acts 3:13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.

·        Acts 3:26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

·        Acts 4:27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

·        Acts 4:30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

·        Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.


It has been estimated by historians that at the time of Paul there were as many as 60 million slaves owned by masters in the Roman Empire. So slaves and slavery were well known themes to the New Testament world. That is why Paul's testimony to the church at Corinth is so powerful. They knew what he meant when he declared that he and his companions wanted to be regarded as "servants".  Let’s turn to I Corinthians 4:1.  The word servant in this verse communicated a vision of humility and absolute servility.


The word in the original language was HUPERETES, literally "under rowers."  That hardly means anything to us.  But for the Corinthians of the first century it was a loathsome term. Corinth sat astride the isthmus that joined the southern peninsula to mainland Greece. In Paul's time it was the wealthiest and most prominent of all Greek cities.


One of the most common sights to the people of Corinth was the ship tramway that moved vessels overland to the opposite shore.  Like the Panama Canal today, that overland transport system was in constant use and saved days of travel time for all who used it.


The most numerous boats were the triremes or galley slave ships, each with three banks of oars in three levels, one above another.  The slaves who sat chained to the bottom oars were called HUPERETES, the "under rowers".


Life at the Bottom of the Ship


The huperetes' life at the bottom of the ship was tough and always busy -- and it was permanent.  Most died in service, the chains about their ankles grim reminders of their bondage.  And there were five aspects of their work that Paul and his companions could identify with in calling themselves "servants" of Christ.


·        First, the galley slave had to ROW TO THE CAPTAIN'S BEAT.  To keep as many as 150 oars together, the captain beat a rhythmic tempo on a drum.  Each slave had to row with the beat.

·        Second, the slaves had to ROW TOGETHER.  Often two or three rowers moved their thirty- foot-long oars.  They quickly learned that one could not lean on the oar, another push, and another pull!  They had to work as a team.

·        Third, they had to TRUST THE CAPTAIN.  In the gloomy depths of the boat a slave had no idea where he was, where he was going, or when he would arrive.  His was a labor of total faith and obedience.  As the captain's beat grew more and more rapid it could signal an enemy attack or a storm to be avoided or a hurried schedule -- but the slave could not question which.  He could only obey.

·        Fourth, the galley slave was COMMITTED FOR LIFE.  His was always a one-way trip.  The damp, hard benches were no relief to his weary bones after a day's labor.  The lack of sunshine and fresh air, combined with the leg chains, meant repeated illness during service, binding every slave to the ship with deadly certainty.  And if the ship went down in a storm or in conflict, the slaves had no way of escape.

·        Finally, the slave RECEIVED NO HONOR.  ONLY THE CAPTAIN WAS VISIBLE to the outer world.  Although there were dozens of men who gave their lives and very breath to keep the ship going, they were never seen.  They rowed on and on, day in and day out, invisible to and unrewarded by the world.  If an under rower were seen, it was because he was not doing his job.


So what was Paul’s goal in his life? To be Christ's servant. What should be our personal goal? The same. WE MUST BECOME BY HABIT, LIKE THOSE GALLEY SLAVES OR UNDER-ROWERS FOR CHRIST! And our prayer for our children? No less. See 1 Corinthians 4:1


Prayer is the key to raising, nurturing, and launching children that please the Lord is learning how to pray for our children.


We Must Pray for Integrity in Their Personal Life:



·        Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (NKJV)

·        Philippians 2:5-7 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. (NKJV)


Servant and Slave.  In the New Testament douleuo indicates submission of the will, as in slavery. We Christians are slaves of Jesus, for we submit to Him. But diakoneo means serving by giving personal help to another. Christian servanthood means willingly submitting to the will of God, and freely offering help to others.


Now let’s look into the Life of the greatest servant of all and examine the heart of a servant. Jesus was the Ultimate Servant. He is our example. His life overflows with servant heartedness.


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