“Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant; and whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—” (Matthew 20:26-27NKJV).
What is true greatness? In the kingdom of this world, the great man is the one who has risen to a place of wealth and power. He has a retinue of aides and assistants, conditioned to follow his orders. He is accorded V. I. P. treatment and receives special favors wherever he goes. People regard him with respect and awe because of his rank. He never has to stoop to anything menial; there are always others to do that for him.
But in the Kingdom of our Lord, things are quite different. Here greatness is measured by the extent to which we serve rather than the extent to which we are served. The great man is the one who stoops to become a slave for others. No service is too menial. He does not expect any special treatment or thanks. When one of George Washington’s men saw him performing a menial service, he objected, saying “General, you are too big a man to be doing that.” Washington replied, “Oh, no, I’m just the right size.”
Commenting on Luke 17:7-10, respected author Roy Hession reminds us that “there are five marks of the bond-slave: (1) He must be willing to have one thing on top of another put upon him, without any consideration being given to him. (2) In doing this, he must be willing not to be thanked for it. (3) Having done all this, he must not charge the master with selfishness. (4) He must confess that he is an unprofitable servant. (5) He must admit that doing and bearing what he has in the way of meekness and humility, he has not done on stitch more than it was his duty to do.”
When our Lord left the heights of glory to become a Man on this planet, He “took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7). He was among us as One who serves (Luke 22:27). He said, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He girded Himself with a towel, the apron of a slave, and washed his disciple’s feet (John 13:1-17).
“The servant is not greater than his lord” (John 13:16). If He stooped so low to serve us, why should we think it is beneath our dignity to serve others.”