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(Part 39)


September 13, 2013

Today’s readings:
1 Timothy 1:1-14
Psalm 16:1-11
Luke 6:39-42

A servant leader needs to be pure in heart, mind and spirit. This is what enables him to love others, especially those whom he serves. This “is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” (1 Tm 1:5).

Before getting there, one is brought by God through different stages.

First, God deals mercifully with us, bringing us from sin to righteousness. Even the greatest sinners are dealt with in this way. Such was Paul. “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.” (1 Tm 1:13). Pride, blasphemy, persecuting Christians--can it get worse than that? So no matter how sinful your life has been, you can still receive God’s abundant mercy. You can meet and know Christ.

Second, once converted, God brings us into His very life. We are provided the grace by which we can begin to live according to the ways of Jesus. “Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tm 1:14). We are brought to faith in Christ, and we begin to live the love that is at the core of the Christian life. We now live Christ.

Third, God now uses us to be His servant and instrument of salvation for others. As in the case of Paul, “he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.” (1 Tm 1:12b). We become ministers of Jesus himself. He entrusts his work to us. That is indeed amazing. Great sinners like us become servant leaders, “according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.” (1 Tm 1:11). We now share Christ.

How can we cooperate with the Spirit of Jesus such that this process of conversion and transformation will continue according to God’s plan?

One, we must “keep the Lord always before (us)” (Ps 16:8a). Jesus is the be-all and end-all of our life. “I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good.” (Ps 16:2).

Second, we must look only to the Lord for wisdom and knowledge. “I bless the Lord who counsels me” (Ps 16:7a). We are servants of God Himself. We are disciples of Jesus. “No disciple is superior to the teacher” (Lk 6:40a). However, Jesus allows us to get into his sandals so that we can continue his very work. If we allow ourselves to be transformed, if we allow Jesus to teach is his ways, then we can become other Christs. So “when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” (Lk 6:40b). Just make sure you are not “wanting to be teachers of the law, but without understanding either what they are saying or what they assert with such assurance.” (1 Tm 1:7).

Third, we must not be afraid and must rest secure in the Lord’s care and protection. “With him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken. .... my body also dwells secure” (Ps 16:8b,9b). God is our safe refuge amidst the storms of life. We will be buffeted but never overcome. “Keep me safe, O God, in you I take refuge.” (Ps 16:1b). God is our strength. “I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tm 1:12a).

Fourth, we must always maintain our joy. “Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices” (Ps 16:9a).

All the above are essential, because we do the work of Jesus. Jesus brought sight to the blind. Servant leaders too are used by Jesus to allow people, especially sinners, to see the beauty of Christ and his gospel. But to do that, servant leaders must be fully aware of Jesus’ teachings and way of life. Otherwise, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?” (Lk 6:39).

Further, Jesus condemned the Pharisees as hypocrites. They were very strict in observance of the law, but their hearts were far from God. The Pharisee condemned the publican, even when the latter was the one commended by God. So too can servant leaders fall into the trap of criticizing others while missing out on their own shortcomings, perhaps even greater that that of those they criticize. “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?” (Lk 6:41). Jesus has harsh words for such a one: “You hypocrite!” (Lk 6:42b).

One curse of a servant leader is blindness--being blind to Jesus’ teachings, such that he guides subordinates on the wrong path, and being blind to his own greater shortcomings than those he criticizes.

Servant leaders, always look to “grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Tm 1:2b). Only in that way can you look forward not just to fruitful service, but to a life of joy and blessings. “You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.” (Ps 16:11).

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