TO SERVE OR BE SERVED?
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
I have always had this question in my life that I struggle with all of the time. I struggle because it is a test of giving and receiving. It is a question of intention and reception. There are tons of times in my life that I have received a gift of someone's service in my life. People who are willing to go over and beyond because they have a gift and a calling to give and not receive. These are the type of people that will give of their time, money and effort without even thinking on my behalf or the behalf of the ministry and I just try to figure out which side of the line I stand on. I know that they are trying to do their best to give back because of someone or something that has been given to them, but I always feel guilty because I have not been able to give back to them in the way that I think is right. I know that there are times that I say thank you and times where I intentionally go out of my way to make sure that they really know my appreciation, but I feel so guilty because I feel as though I should be doing what they are doing for them. I don't know. I just know that there are many people in my life, currently and in the past, that have been willing to sacrifice their lives to serve and I just hope and pray these words give you some words of comfort and gratitude from my heart.
See there is a fine line that we all face when ask that question, "Are we to serve or be served?". Are we to step into the lives of anyone that God directs into our paths in order that they may be able to truly experience a blessing from God. See, I don't have a problem doing this side of the equation. I really have no problem trying to step out of my life and step into the lives of others. I have not problem seeing an opportunity that may arise and saying that I may have a solution to help that need. However, I have a really hard time allowing others to
do that for me. I guess it is similar to the age old question of which came first the chicken or the egg. In reality the answer does not matter because an egg is part of the life chain of a chicken, but you have to have a chicken in order to lay an egg. We could really debate that for no real reason, but to serve or be served, I guess I am asking what are your thoughts. As I continue to walk down this road each day, I look for ways to serve others and not a way that I can get others to do service for me. Whether it is gift cards or manual labor, I just feel unworthy of that offering. But on the other hand, as I have been told, not allowing someone to do what God has called them to do is robbing them of God's blessing. It is not allowing God to take the time to stretch others in their journey and allow God to open our eyes to this unending cycle of servanthood. Maybe I am just prideful and need to get over that, but I know that if I really look at it through God's eyes, I should be excited to see others that are being inspired by God to serve. I just don't think that I am the one that needs to receive it... but that is another discussion for another day.
The reality of this question really all comes down to perspective and obedience. As we look at the scripture verse for today, we are looking into the beginning stages of Mary's preparation for being the mother of Jesus. It is something that we really do think about from time to time around Christmas, but not really on a regular basis. Mary, betrothed to Joseph, is visited by the angel Gabriel, the messenger angel, and is told of what is about to occur in her life. She is informed of the gift and sacrifices that will have to be made and the amazing journey that is about to start in her life. Now think about this, at the time, Mary was somewhere between the ages of 13-15. She was still a child herself in modern day times, but God had already seen her servant's heart and knew this was going to be the one that was able to serve as the mother of Jesus. I don't know if there are many people that would be wiling to accept this challenge today, but God had already seen Mary's servant heart and knew she would be the one to serve and be served by the Son of God. That is such a crazy thought to think, I mean can you imagine being the parent of God's Son? WOW. And as she faced the ridicule and the isolation, God continued to recognize her obedience to serve and fulfill God's calling in her life. She was blessed to see her life as a servant and recognize that baby she was carrying and soon to be teaching and nurturing, was the embodiment of God. All throughout Jesus' life, Mary was still a constant figure. She continued to serve until Jesus paid the ultimate price and served the world with the gift of grace through His blood.
So our challenge today is to really think about how we are able to grow as a servant in both giving and receiving. I know that we have really been honest about what that looks like in our lives. I know that we have said that we have to empty or loose what we are holding on to so that God can refill us with His call in our lives. I know that God will definitely reveal to those who are ready, a part of the plan that will continue to change the world. But we have to be willing to receive and give. Mary was willing to receive this amazing gift from God, even though she felt as if she was unworthy. God continued to press in because He knew her heart and saw the servant's heart that Mary would share through her life to Jesus. And I firmly believe that the example that Mary set,
helped Jesus to see servanthood from not just a Godly perspective, but from a human example as well. These words should continue to be used as a torch that we carry to show the world the power of obedience and service. We should continue to recognize that the question that was asked today should be the same for us as breathing. As we breathe in, we are receiving the blessing of God, and as we exhale we share those blessing to others. We cannot survive if we don't breathe in and we will certainly die if we do not breathe out. Being a servant is always going to be two-fold because that is the way that God created it to be through the example of Christ. Remember Jesus said that He came to serve and not be served, and in this we understand that it is better to give than to receive. But unless there is someone who is receiving our service, than there is no one we can serve. Jesus is asking for our obedience and to follow His example. If we are truly able to give and receive in humility, the world will begin to see the bigger picture of God's eternal plans. Father, here I am. What can I do for You today? Amen.