February 13, 2017
From the desk of A.J. Higgins
The Gold Standard for a Servant
“Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters and to please them well in all things, not answering again … but showing all good fidelity.” Titus 2:9 ,10
Paul, intent on godly testimony by believers in the Cretan society, which was marked by lying, laziness, and lawlessness (Titus 1:12), gave Titus instructions concerning the behavior of servants / slaves working in households. They were to be marked by obedience to their masters, seeking to please them in every aspect of their service, and submitting without a rebellious spirit. They were to show faithfulness to the Lord and, also to their earthly masters.
Here, then, was God’s standard for a good servant: obedience, submission, integrity, and fidelity. The servant marked by these features would be well-pleasing to his master and, more importantly, pleasing to God.
There likely were many earthly servants who fulfilled these criteria and brought satisfaction to their masters. But there is a unique Servant Who fulfilled them in far greater measure, at far greater cost, and Who brought far greater pleasure to His Master.
There was only one Servant Who was always obedient in all things. The Christological paean of praise in Philippians 2 tells us that He was obedient even to the point of death, and that a cross death. He experienced the cost of obedience by the things that He suffered (Heb 5:8). Never was obedience so costly for any servant. And never was there a servant who was as undeserving of the treatment received. Whatever the desire and will of His Master, He willingly obeyed. There were undoubtedly, many earthly servants who obeyed their masters out of either a sense of duty or for fear of reprisals. But this Servant did all out of love and He performed it joyfully.
“Not answering again,” is the thought of not trying to vindicate self. Watch as Pilate marvels at His silence, as false accusations are heaped upon with all the venom and malice which Satan could provoke in the hearts of sinful men! Listen as men mill around the cross and hurl epithets of blasphemy in His face, daring Him to come down and vindicate Himself. Stand in awe of His silence, as men with a gleeful sense of triumph mock His suffering and abandonment. “When He was reviled, He reviled not again … He threatened not … committed Himself to Him that judges righteously” (1Peter 2:23).
He was the faithful Servant as well. He was “not rebellious neither turned away back” (Isa 50:5). He was the ultimate prototype of One Who was “faithful unto death” in the service of His Master. His faithfulness was displayed against the failure of the best of men such as Peter and the other disciples who forsook Him and fled.
The gold standard for servanthood was established by God. Wonder of all wonders that He Himself, the Son of God should become a Servant and perfectly fulfill that standard.
Little wonder that heaven could open to announce, “This is My Beloved Son; in Whom I am well-pleased” (Matt 3:17).
Consider the Servant Songs of Isaiah (ch 42, 49, 50, 53) and notice how each Song highlights a particular feature of His faithful service to God.