SONS NOT SERVANTS
Being a Christian is different from any and all other religions for many reasons, but second to the work of salvation accomplished through faith in Christ Jesus, I believe the most important difference is that in Christianity we are invited to experience the reality of being the actual, literal sons and daughters of the Most High God!
In every other religion, and unfortunately in much of Christendom, adherents are mere servants to some master being with no hope of ever being more than some level of servant! No hope of improvement, no confidence of standing or status, no fulfillment of value is granted to the followers of religions! In fact, this is one of the greatest indictments that Jesus declared against the Pharisees of His day!
* But woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Sadly so many in the Church have, either through ignorance or intent, held the saints from experiencing their true standing with God, as did the Pharisees!
Yet, Jesus Himself proclaimed that we who have believed in Him, we who have been born again, we who have accepted God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ are removed from servanthood and placed into childhood by way of adoption!
See what things about this God’s says to us in His Word, many of which spoken by the human tongue of Christ Jesus!
* But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13
* To His first disciples He declared … “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15
* “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” John 16:27
* "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18
* “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21
* But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law …
… To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Galatians 4:4-7
Jesus was not speaking metaphorically! Jesus was not speaking in picture words! Jesus speaks fact about the relationship we have with God once we have placed our faith in Christ and that relationship is not Master – servant, but Father – child!
What happens if we are not aware of or able to accept this fact?
We limit ourselves to being a servant and a servant has limited standing with the Master no matter how kind or loving or generous that Master may be! Consider with me for just a moment, who has the greater standing with the Master of the house … a servant to the Master or a child of that Master?
If you were be employed by your father and your father had 100 employees, which of those 99 other employees could come to work and truthfully say, “Hello dad!”? NONE of them! Which of those 99 other employees would be able to go home with the business owner at the end of the day because they are part of the man’s family? NONE of them could!
HOWEVER, even though he is your boss, YOU can do these things! You have a greater standing with your employer than any other employee because the “boss” is your Father!
Being a Son instead of a Servant is very, VERY liberating. There is a great freedom that becomes manifest when we realize that we are not servants of God but instead we are God’s sons and daughters! Unfortunately, so very many Christians do not enjoy this liberty but rather are in certain bondage!
That bondage is what I call “a servant’s mentality”!
The “Servant Mentality”, often coupled with a selfish, “childish heart” is a condition that produces anything but true joy! The Servant Mentality produces an insufferable series of conditions, each one leading to another deeper and darker than before:
* Insecurity … The servant always has the nagging worry that says, “You’re expendable!” The servant thinks then, that he/she can easily be removed from their position of servant and either downgraded to a lower status – or removed altogether! This then produces …
* Competitiveness … The servant is always watching out for and afraid of being “out done” by another servant! Because of this, the Servant Mentality Christian often is always trying to “out do” all the other servants, always occupied with “trying to make him/herself look better than the next guy! This then produces …
* Intimidation … A servant who is always trying to out-perform everyone else, becomes a very intimidating personality – even if acting pleasant and non-threatening! Why? Because feeling intimidated themselves, they are always trying to show God (and others) that they are more worthy (many times just being as worthy) as the saint standing next to them! These things combine then produce …
* Protectionism … When God brings in a new person to help with the ministry, the Servant Mentality feels threatened! Everything negative begins to flood the thoughts of the Servant Mentality often resulting in disagreements among the people.
The attitude of “We’ve always done it this way and there’s nothing wrong with how we have been doing it” surfaces. Worries about being “shown up” or displaced come in to play and the Servant Mentality will even go so far as to undermine the new worker or idea, even undermine the Pastor or other ministers just to protect his/her position! This then breeds …
* Exclusionism … The Servant Mentalities become suspicious of every new person or idea that comes along, feeling threatened by something new and so will do what they can to exclude the new idea, or better yet – just exclude the person to whom God gave the new way or idea! Of course what is at the root of the Servant Mentality is …
* Pride! Pride is so deceptively wicked to its victims! The Servant Mentality justifies all that it does by claiming to be just attempting to do God’s will and to do it well! They want their church to do well so long as it is doing well in the way that makes them comfortable! The prideful servant wants people to notice how much the humbly serve God! And man oh man, is the Servant Mentality ever good at manipulating himself into the limelight that will show how good of a servant they really are, and all behind a front of false humbleness!
* Finally, rebellion! A look at the prodigal son’s brother is the best example of this! This brother, a son himself, only saw himself as nothing more than a servant, a servant who was “betrayed” by the Father! For all his “good service”, he expected that the Father should have rewarded him for his faithful service instead of rejoicing at the return of the prodigal, also a son!
The servant’s mentality totally missed that the Father was expressing love for a family member, but being intimidated by the prodigal, the elder brother swelled with pride because of his “service” and rebelled against the Father’s heart and will by rejecting the returning prodigal who had been serving self and sin rather than the Father! The elder brother wanted the prodigal to remain the missing part of the picture!
This would have left the elder brother in the limelight showing the Father just what a wonderful servant he was, the best servant of all of the Father’s servants!
“But wait just minute Doctor Timothy! Aren’t we supposed to serve God? Doesn’t’ the Bible tell us we should be the servants of righteousness?
I did not say that we are not to be servants at all; I said we are to be children! We are to be children who serve the Father, but our service has an entirely different motivation than the servant! Let me use the same explanation that Jesus used to help understand …
"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard.
He answered and said I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, the first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." (Matthew 21:28-31)
The point is this … God intends for us to live as His sons and daughters, and as His sons and daughters, we are to serve Christ in the “family business”. We are to be CHILDREN IN SERVICE TO OUR FATHER!
Just as in the earlier example of out of 100 employees, you are the child of the employer and not merely a hired employee! However, in our case, we are to serve the “First Born Son” whom the Father has placed over the “family business” and is our example of serving as a Son!
IF we will but allow ourselves, rather allow the Spirit of God to develop in us a “Child’s Mentality with a Servant’s Heart” we will begin and continue to experience life in such a reality of joy that it is amazing! When we have a Child’s Mentality with a Servant’s Heart, we actually perform better service to our Lord’s Kingdom! In contrast to the “servant’s mentality” the “Child’s Mentality” produces a delightful series of conditions, each one progressing into a brighter, more empowering reality to be enjoyed!
* The Child does not worry about being displaced! If they fail in an assignment, they may be penalized as a servant, but they will not lose their position as a child because of it! Now THAT IS FREEDOM! Freedom from worry which produces …
* Confidence … I am a child, you are a child, and we are equally important to our Father! With my importance and value assured, I need not fear someone displacing me from my fellowship with my Father! This then produces …
* Boldness … I am willing to try new ideas and works of ministry; I am willing to work with new people, because if I am being who and what God says that I am, no one is a better me than me so then I can do works free from the compulsion to compete with others! This then breeds …
* Peace of mind … I have nothing to prove to God, or anyone else, because God calls me His child! He already approves me in Christ! I just need to focus on fulfilling what I know to be God’s purpose and role for me and if others try to hinder me due to their own insecurities, that is God’s realm of responsibility to deal with them about – I should try to help them experience life as God’s child!
The overriding result of having a Child’s Mentality with a Servant’s Heart is the increasing ability to live righteously! (In other words, we are more easily able to be obedient and cooperative with what God says is correct thus living with an abiding clear conscience towards God.)
For example, as God’s child, which is absent any incorrect competitiveness, I am entirely free; perhaps liberated better describes it, to incorporate into my lifestyle such things as:
* If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
* Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,
just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
(1 Cor. 10:31-33 )
Of course there are many other Scripture instructions that I could use as examples, but the one following very well illustrates the beautiful results of being … of becoming and living in the fullness of being a child of The One True God!
Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
AS A CHILD OUR RELATIONSHIP with God, who is our Father, IS NOT BASED ON SERVICE! It is based on HIS GRACE, on His works through Christ Jesus in our behalf … it is based on HIS ADOPTION making us His sons and daughters, so no amount of service can improve our relationship with our Father, no amount of service can diminish our relationship with our Father!
A SERVANT CANNOT SAY THE SAME THING because a servant does not have the same standing! A servant’s relationship is dependent primarily upon the servant’s level and quality of service and then the good graces of the Master should the servant fail. In other words, once placed into service the responsibility of the continuation of the relationship rests on the servant’s shoulders!
A servant has no abiding peace! As long as the servant has the sense that he/she is “doing a good job”, he or she has a quiet heart, what we call peace. As long as nothing threatens the servant’s perception that his or her position is secure, as long as no one “threatens” to “outshine” the servant, his or her peace remains intact. Yet the moment that anything or anyone threatens the servant’s position (or perception of position) the struggle is on! Whatever it takes to regain that sense of being secure in their position (their actual source of peace), the servant minded person will do, often causing great damage to the one who seems to be the threat to their standing.
* The deacon feels threatened by the new pastor.
* The pastor feels threatened by the new worship leader.
* The worship leader feels threatened by the new youth minister.
* The youth minister feels threatened by the new trustee.
* On and on it goes!
* Is it any wonder that so many churches are fractured and divided?
So how can we gain this “child’s mentality”? Is this really all that important? According to Jesus, it is not only a state that we can gain, but important to do so as we read in Matthew 18!
Matthew 18:1-4 (NKJV) 1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
* There they were, arguing over who is the greatest. Twelve men yet so insecure that they were quibbling over who would be recognized as the greatest! Not over whom is the most loved, not over who is the most favored or who is the favorite … as siblings (children) might; but who is the greatest!
* Their focus was all wrong and misdirected! They were directing their focus on being the wrong thing! We can see this by the answer of Jesus … EXCEPT YOU CONVERT AND BECOME AS LITTLE CHILDREN!
-- Wow! Do you see it?
-- Now some, in fact many people tell you that Jesus was instructing the disciples of their need to be born again – converted – after all, He is talking about entering the Kingdom of Heaven, so He must be speaking of our salvation … right?
-- The Disciples were already “believers” in Christ and had already accepted Him as THE Messiah … their Savior! So it is not possible that Jesus is telling them they need to “get saved” in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
-- He is telling them- and us – we must convert FROM our servant’s mentality and become as SEE OURSELVES AS GOD’S LITTLE CHILDREN!
* Children – Do not worry about who is the greatest in the “kingdom” for “kingdom = business = servanthood”.
The word “kingdom” here is the Greek word, “basileia” which actually has two similar yet different meanings of 1 Reign/rule or 2 Realm.
* So now, let us look again, at what the Disciples were arguing about …
“Who is the greatest in REIGN” or, “Who is the greatest in RULING”!
These are terms that servants were worried about keeping in mind the culture of the day when it was just a given that the first-born son was the “greatest” child in the family!
* So what is it that Jesus really answered?
-- Change your perspective! Change the basis of your thinking, of what produces your thoughts!
-- Remember the two meanings of “kingdom”? Jesus is instructing us that we must be converted from thinking about “reigning” or “ruling” which are “servant issues” and be converted TO “realm issues”!
-- “… unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
* BECOME A CHILD AND NOT A SERVANT! BE CONVERTED FROM thinking of yourself as a servant and BE CONVERTED TO understanding that you are a child, a little child at that!
* Why the little child? Because LITTLE children are not yet concerned about such trite issues as “who’s in charge”! Little children focused on family fellowship more than and above anything else! The most important thing to a little child is to be in the presence of the parents and experiencing the LOVE that the parents pour out into their tender hearts!
* Little children are sensitive to the emotional needs of their siblings! They may be in the middle of fussing and fighting but the second one of them gets hurt or starts to cry, the other reaches out with comfort! (Remember, we are speaking of LITTLE children here.)
-- Therefore, what “kingdom” is Jesus speaking of in this answer? REALM … NOT REIGN!
* Unless you are converted TO understanding that of being a little child you will BY NO MEANS enter the REALM OF HEAVEN!
* REALM = PLACE – not function or authority!
* So the Disciples were arguing about who was to be the greatest in “ruling” in Heaven … Jesus is concerned that we discover and experience the “realm” of Heaven!
* HUGE DIFFERENCE! No amount of servitude, no amount of our works, and no amount of our efforts to win the approval of the Lord will ever be sufficient to gain our entrance into the REALM, or, living reality of Heaven!
* HUGE DIFFERENCE! The Disciples were arguing about rewards of service and Jesus is talking about our state of existence in our daily life!
* Furthermore, Jesus tells us that unless we do become as little children – no more theory but now we must apply this truth to become our reality – we will NOT experience life in the REALM of Heaven!
* Finally, Jesus tells us that for those of us who DO make this change, for those of us who DO achieve the transformation into being AS this little child, we shall be the “greatest” in the realm of Heaven.
Whereas the Disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest (proportion of rule), Jesus tells that the “children” will be the greatest (larger prestige) in the Realm!
The final two parts of answering the question of “how do we gain this ‘child’s mentality’?” are: First, make the decision to convert to become as little children; second, simply begin cooperating with the Holy Spirit of God to accomplish this in you by ALLOWING Him to do this work!
In a way similar to the “moment of salvation”, the “moment of conversion” to childlikeness or to a “child’s mentality” has immediate effects and progressive experiences and benefits. Or to say it another way, one “grows into being a child”!
I first gained this revelation in understanding in 1988, it is now 2009 and the process is still taking place in my life, so although the decision to “be converted” from servant thinking to childlike takes immediate effect, it is not a total transformation that occurs overnight!
In closing let me say a word about spiritual maturity. I can almost hear someone saying, “But Paul wrote that we are to put away childish things and become full grown men and women!” Well, what is more childish than arguing over who is greater in the Kingdom? What is more childish than always trying to compete and get ahead of everyone else, like a kid cutting in line?
Jesus is the perfect example of being a mature CHILD! He did not set out to prove that He was the Son of God … He simply, AS the Son of God, delivered the Gospel to humanity! Jesus did not show us how to be saved. He did however show us how to live as God’s child once we become born again, saved, adopted CHILDREN of The Most High!
Jesus lived in perfect peace because HE KNEW that no matter what He was faced with, He was securely the Son of God and this knowledge was UNSHAKABLE!
Jesus made us an offer to give us this same peace! We can live in the constant experience of the same peace in which He lived, with never a moment of that peace being absent!
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. John 14:27-28
Jesus lived in that perfect peace because He knew He was a Son not a servant! He knew that His position was something higher than a servant could ever hope to attain apart from being adopted!
Whether challenged by the devil in the wilderness or by the Pharisees in the cities and temple, both casting doubt on who Jesus was, He had the perfect peace of being God’s Son and so there was We must gain that mindset of being His children – positionally. That is to say that our position with God is dependent upon His adoption of us rather than our servitude.
Our position relies on His choice to adopt us when we chose to receive His offer of salvation through faith in His firstborn Son, Jesus Christ as our Lord.
In other words, for a child’s mindset to be established and prevail we must rely upon the Father keeping us and not being kept by our own efforts, just as a child does not concern himself with earning his position in the family nor even being retained in the family!
Why does the child make no effort to earn or retain his/her position as a child? Because the child is BORN into the family; perhaps the child is ADOPTED into the family … but either way, the child makes no effort to gain or retain a family position because the PARENTS CLAIM him/her as a child!
If the child lives as a servant, it is either by choice or by ignorance, but in either case, it is the child’s perception that results in living below their true status! Therein we find the way of conversion to become a child. First, we must realize that we are children because it is God who claims us in response to our accepting His offer of atonement by faith in Christ Jesus as Lord. Second, we must simply make the choice to accept our God-chosen position as His child, and to rest in that position.
“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30
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