So, yes, servanthood. I've been thinking a lot about servanthood lately because God used this past week to reveal that so much of the time my genuine desire to serve people is actually self-exalting martyrdom. And it's not pretty.
"I do everything for everyone ALL of the time," I inwardly wail. Adding a sweet baby to the scenario of keeping up a house and husband intensifies my heart of a martyr: "No one else has to ever care for her as much as I do and I have to feed her all of the time." And you know what's funny? While I engage in The Internal Running Dialog of Ultimate Sacrifice, I continue to shove my hands into sudsy dishwater or run to the laundry room to pull out another load of clothes from the dryer...just because I want someone to notice and applaud my (obviously) superhuman efforts.
The truth is that it feels good (i.e. satisfies my stinky ol' flesh) to pat myself on the head and say what a good little sacrificial girl I'm being today. And it's even better when someone says, "Oh great Amelia! We couldn't survive without you!" But is that really serving my dear husband and baby from a heart of love? Nope. What it really comes down to is Pride. That's the difference between serving from a heart of a martyr and serving from a heart of love.
Then I think about how Jesus Christ was the ultimate servant:
...even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)And in love he emptied himself so that he could fully serve:
...though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)Jesus served and spent himself to the point of death...in love and in joy.
But what about me? Is there any hope of really serving from love and in joy? Can the martyr complex really be eradicated?
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:6-8)Because Jesus served and died, my prideful self is no longer enslaved to sin. I don't have to be a martyr when I face another day of dishes and laundry and baby care. Through daily reliance on his abundant grace I can serve freely and truly from a heart of love.
Aren't you glad that Jesus really paid it all? Are you continually amazed at how his death and resurrection makes all the difference in how we live every single day? I am.
(And I'm glad that Jesus wasn't a martyr.)