Servants in the House of the Lord

Servitude is a theme replete throughout scripture. In Matthew 20:20, when a mother asks that her sons sit on His right and left sides, the apostles grow contentious over their rank in the kingdom. Jesus, however, says they should not seek to be masters but servants, for it shall be the servants that will be honored in His kingdom. Jesus’ mission is one of service, and our mission should be likewise focused. Also, Romans 12:7 and I Peter 4:9-10 encourage us to devote ourselves to our lives of service, and II Corinthians 11:8 records Paul his acceptance of donations from other congregations was for the purpose of service.

In Ephesians 6:5-8, Paul is specifically speaking to the servant-master relationship, and he tells those servants to be obedient. He explains, though, that giving goodwill service to another is giving service to God. Finally, in Galatians 5:13, Paul tells us to use our spiritual freedom to become servants one to another.

Examples of Service

  • John 13 records the events of the last supper. Starting in verse 4, Jesus kneels to wash His disciples’ feet, taking on the role of servant to His followers. Knowing He was about to die, Jesus takes these last few hours to teach humble servitude to those who had been following him these last three years.
  • In Acts 9:36, we meet a woman named Tabitha through her death. She is described as reputed for her charity. She served others, and, when she dies, those upon whom she had shown charity were gathered around her, displaying gifts she had given them.
  • During the events of John 11, Martha works to serve the many people coming in and out of her home. In the presence of Jesus and His followers, she busies herself
  • Philippians 2:22 records Paul describing Timothy as a fellow servant in the gospel. He describes his relationship with Timothy like father and son. That’s how attentive Timothy is to Paul in their service to the Lord.

Korah and Servitude

Psalms 42-49 and Psalms 84-89 (with the exception of one Psalm in each of those groupings) are attributed to the sons of Korah. In Numbers 16, Korah and many of his family rise up against Aaron and Moses – wanting to be as important in their role before God. This small revolt ends poorly for Korah and his supporters, but some of his family survived to write some of the Psalms.

In one of these Psalms, number 84:9, these sons of Korah express they would rather be doorkeepers in the house of Jehovah that dwell in the homes of the wicked. These sons demonstrate a contentment their forefather lacked. They are content to be servants rather than masters. Psalm 42 focuses on longing after serving God, and, throughout these Psalms written by the sons of Korah, this attitude of service and gratitude repeats. It no longer matters to these sons their level of importance in God’s work, so long as they can serve and glorify God.

Personal Applications

It’s not easy to focus on others before self. It’s not easy to deny self, but that is what our Savior did. We have to develop a servant mindset, and we have to be able to put God and others first. There are many things we can do, whether we are like Tabitha with charity, like Martha with hospitality,or like Timothy in service to the gospel. We should be serving one another in love. We should be more like the sons of Korah in Psalms, happy to be doorkeepers in the house of the Lord, submitting to God and to one another in humility.

lesson by Tim Smelser