"The Servant of the Lord"

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 2 - The Servant Spirit and the Servant Mind

So far we have spoken of the specific relationship to Christ suggested by the term "Bond-servant." We shall proceed to think of the deeper nature of this relationship and of the vital principle back of it. We are familiar with the designation of the Lord Jesus Himself as "The Servant of Jehovah," and we know that in type and declaration that conception of Him occupies considerable place in the Scriptures. The Ox throughout represents Him in the twofold aspect of service and sacrifice - one thing, never separated. Of Himself He said one all inclusive thing, "The Son of Man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom." In sharing - not the redeeming activity of Christ, but - the outworking purpose of that specific activity, one thing is said of the servant of the Lord, "To you it has been given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but to suffer for His sake."

It is so important, beloved, that we should be clear on this matter of service, and it will save us so much sorrow and heartbreak if we have this right as early as possible. We do not want to spend time in pointing out the tremendous mistakenness which prevails far and wide in this respect. "Christian service" has come to be a realm in which all the acquisitive, ambitious, obtrusive, assertive, self-seeking, and numerous other elements of the natural man have been vented and taken hold. It has created a system in which human distinctions are the order of the day. Yes, and much more which it is too painful to mention. We need an adjustment of our minds by a true spiritual perception of the real nature of service, and it will be well for us ever to remember that all work for Christ is not service to Christ. A child may be very well meaning and industrious in its "helping mother" (?), but poor mother may find rather more work created than done.

Now let us say right away with emphasis that the indispensable and basic thing to real service is

The Servant Spirit and the Servant Mind

In Philippians 2 the Holy Spirit says through Paul "Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, Who... took the form of a bondservant." Now this passage is a sequel to John 13:7: "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know afterward." There is a very vital principle involved here. Let us study the thing carefully.

There are three sides to it or phases of it; the Divine, the human, and the Satanic. Take the human first. The Master and His disciples had come in after a tiring day: dusty, hot, and weary. They had no paid servants, so that they would either sit down to supper as they were, or wash one another's feet. But this was a servant's job and these men were wont to discuss who should be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. It was not likely that such a mind would submit to the slave's duties. They were probably each standing upon dignity, prestige, and pride. Possibly Peter was not the least offender, for when the Master girded Himself with a towel and poured out water it says "He cometh to Simon." Here commenced a terrible unveiling of Simon's mind. The first disclosure is made when Simon says "Thou shalt never wash my feet!" Here is self-will asserting itself against the will of the Lord. It is self-will rising up upon a basic pride, an exposed and shamed pride. The Master's answer is "If I wash thee not thou has no part with me." At the suggestion of parting with Christ Simon leaps forward - "Not my feet only but my hands and my head." In effect - "I am after all I can get." Here is self-interest, self-enrichment, self-realisation. The principle back of the Master's act is entirely missed because self fills the horizon.

Before the chapter is concluded Simon is strongly declaring that he will lay down his life for the Master, a declaration which had a sorry issue in the hour of its testing. And in this connection self-confidence and self-sufficiency are unveiled. All this led to Satan's triumph and Simon's defeat. It has ever been so. The breakdown and ruin of man has always been because of his self-life, from Adam onward.

Simon was obtained by Satan for sifting because Satan had a stake in him which gave him a judicial claim and right over Simon. Christ served the Father to the full because Satan had "nothing in Him." We must come back here, but let us turn to the Satanic side. Isaiah tells us (chap, 14) that Satan was hurled from the glory and fell into so great depths of ruin because he said in his heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the Most High." He aspired to equality with God. Ambition for power where the power was God's alone; mastery where service was the order; these were the motives operating. This brought his ruin, and then by prompting Adam to act by the same motive the ruin of the race was accomplished.

How is all this to be remedied? By reversing the order. There was one who had a right to equality with God - "who being on equality with God" - but who - contrary to Lucifer - "thought it not something to be grasped at." This one, in order to get down to the depths of the ruin and destroy the works of the devil, emptied Himself, humbled Himself, took the form of a bond-servant and became obedient unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. Thus only could the will of God be done in the universe; the will which destroys the other will of Satan in the world and in man, for self-will is Satan-will.

So, when the Master said "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter," He was pointing to the day when by the Spirit's illumination they would see that self-emptying and laying down of one's self was the principle of salvation, redemption, and the greatest service. He told them so clearly that they should and must lay down their lives ("souls," self-life) for one another. It is most significant, therefore, that the servant-mind of the Master in action should at once meet the impact of that vaunting self-principle in Simon which is the Satanic stake and resistance.

From this review of the position from the Divine, the Satanic, and the human standpoint, we ought to see quite clearly that the matter of service is infinitely more than busy-ness in religious causes, or earthly activities in Christian interests; it is the accomplishment of a heavenly will and Divine purpose which registers its impact in the breaking of another foreign will and destroying the works of the devil. This is the force of "obedience," and the "not my will," and this is the servant-mind and servant-spirit.

Thus, further, we must see that the relationship of bond-servants is in the very nature and essence of redemption. The blood by which we have been redeemed has become the means of a covenant of service. Amongst other things, when Israel was redeemed or delivered from the slavery of Egypt the blood of the Passover Lamb - formed into an encircling doorway as it was shed on the threshold and sprinkled above and on either side - involved and implied that they went through and out to be God's servant. Indeed the demand of Jehovah was "Let my people go that they may serve me!"

When a slave in Israel had fulfilled his time and could claim his liberty but preferred to remain with his master, he was taken on to the threshold and his ear was bored with an awl; the blood fell on the threshold and he and his master stepped across that blood, and by so doing a covenant of service - now the service of love - was entered upon. To have stepped UPON the blood and "trodden it under foot" would have been to have "counted it an unholy thing," but passing over ("passover") it hand in hand, was a covenant too sacred to ever be broken. So we are reminded that '"we are not our own, we are bought with a price, even the precious blood."

The basic vision of all true service is that of the Lord high and lifted up, His train filling the Temple, resulting in ourselves being smitten to the ground with a realisation of our own worthlessness which forever makes us - not masters - but slaves, and which necessitates an abiding application of blood-soaked, fire-impregnated coal from the altar if we are to be sent-ones, His servants. Might it not be laid to our charge that our vision of service held ourselves high and lifted up and filling the frame as the goal, until we saw the Lord, and then - in that light - ourselves worthless. The Lord's need is to have bond-servants: such as - even though the extreme pressure at some time might make them say that they would "no more speak in this Name" - find that they cannot forbear for long, but, cost what it may, they must be in it and at it, the fire is in their bones and that zeal of His house eats them up. May we be such, and may the true ground and motive of this fellowship in service be :-

I love, I love my Master,
I will not go out free!
For He is my Redeemer,
He paid the price for me.
I would not leave His service,
It is so sweet and blest;
And in the weariest moments
He gives the truest rest.

My Master shed His life-blood
My vassal life to win,
And saves me from the bondage
Of tyrant self and sin.
He chose me for His service,
And gave me power to choose
That blessed, perfect freedom
Which I shall never lose.

I would not halve my service,
His only it must be!
His only, Who so loved me
And gave Himself for me.
Rejoicing and adoring,
Henceforth my song shall be -
"I love, I love my Master,
I will not go out free!"

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