by Charles R. Swindoll
Quite a while ago, a young man I had known for several years expressed an interest in living in our home and being discipled in the context of our family. He assured me time and again, "I really want to help any way you or your wife may need me. My only reason for doing this is to serve. I just want to be a servant, Chuck."
Cynthia, the children, and I talked this over at length. We decided we'd give it a whirl . . . so in moved Mr. Servant and his family among our tribe of four kids, a dog, two hamsters, a rabbit, and a three-car garage full of stuff. It wasn't long before we realized those words, "I just want to be a servant," were mere words, little more.
Time and again conflicts arose when our requests were met with his resistance. There was hardly an occasion when we would suggest that something be done a certain way without his offering an alternative suggestion. What began as an unselfish-sounding game plan (if I heard once, "I just want to be a servant," I must have heard it fifty times) ultimately resulted in rather heated disagreements, much to our disappointment.
Words come easy—but being a person who genuinely and personally gives to others calls for a plentiful supply of flexibility. There's much more to giving ourselves to the Lord and to others than making verbal statements. It is impossible to give ourselves to others at arm's length or in absentia. Personal involvement is essential, not incidental, and it usually involves adapting our ways and schedules to fit others' needs. Such personal involvement, however, certainly reveals the authenticity of our words.
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
According to these verses, authentic servanthood calls for people with a passion for giving whatever without recognition, without reservation, without reluctance, and without restriction.
And those types are rare indeed!
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.