July 3, 2024

Wednesday, July 3, 2024
July 3, 2024

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Standing In Contrast To Our Self-consumed World: We Are All Called To Serve In Jesus’ Name

Cissie Graham Lynch

“I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:38)

Can you imagine this scene in first-century Nazareth? Mary, a Jewish teenager probably no more than 14 years old, a girl from a small village who is engaged to be married but still a virgin, has just encountered an angel who has told her that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit—and give birth to the long-awaited Messiah of Israel.

There’s really no way to overstate the gravity of that moment. My head spins when I imagine this unexpected turn in Mary’s life. The best of young women would tremble in fear or waver in disbelief. But not Mary. Her faithful response echoes across time as an example for every single person who would follow after the Child she is to carry in her womb.

Amid this news, we see Mary settle into a sense of peace and assurance. She knows that uncertainty and difficulty and almost certain public shame will await her as a young woman pregnant out of wedlock. Yet she also knows who her God is, and she knows His unchanging character. And because she knows who He is, she responds as she does, adding, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” What a beautifully powerful moment of faith and obedience that would lead to a life of service.

And what a striking contrast to the self-consumed world in which we live.

Our society’s idea of service to others without expecting anything in return is an afterthought at best, and at worst something to be avoided. And those attitudes seem to be contagious. For example, who hasn’t noticed what seems to be a decline in how many employees in retail and other business sectors serve customers? A Forbes magazine article last year titled, “Is the Golden Age of Customer Service Behind Us?” likely resonated with readers in our post-pandemic world. Meanwhile, too many of our rising generation believe service is beneath them.

Since I was a young girl, both of my parents have demonstrated service to others as a way of life, and I was taught that no job is beneath me. Serving others is how we show our love while also exemplifying the love and humility of Christ. Like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, we serve people at their greatest need—in the ditches and storms of life—so that they might see Christ in us.

The truth is, taking the approach of a servant requires humility and a focus on others, and it ultimately leads to a better world to live in. Multiple scientific studies have shown that service has a healing effect on those who practice it. It makes good sense.

But for the Christian, our purposes go beyond the temporal to the eternal. The service Christ calls us to—and the kind Mary demonstrates—stands apart because of Whom we serve first and foremost. It flows from a heart of humble worship toward a majestic and gracious Savior.

Mary, this “highly favored one,” is at first troubled (Luke 1:29) by the angel Gabriel’s greeting, but then she seems to turn and almost lean into the hardship she will endure. She knows she is surrendering her life for a life of service to God and the responsibility of raising the very Son of God. No wavering for Mary.

That surrender, that humility, really gets at what being a servant of God is.

This model servant displayed remarkable confidence that her God was worthy of her whole heart and life, daunting as her new job description might have seemed. 

And of all the ways Mary could have identified herself, she chooses the term the Lord’s servant. The more I have thought about it, the more it makes sense. The call to servanthood perfectly aligns with what God calls every believer to be. 

In Matthew 20, we read about the mother of James and John, who is self-seeking in hoping that her sons can have prestigious places at the left and the right of Jesus when He comes into His Kingdom. 

Jesus quickly turns her worldly conception of greatness upside down:

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

Our Lord’s words are clear: There is nothing greater, nothing more Christlike, than surrendering our lives to serving God and others. 

So here’s the question: Who are we serving? First, are we surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ? If we are in Christ, our service begins there. And it flows out from there.

This Christmas, and throughout the next year, will we, like Mary, prepare to serve God with an unwavering focus, even when life takes unexpected turns? 

Our world endlessly pursues power, influence and self-interest. In such a world, Mary’s example stands out. Opportunities to serve—in Jesus’ Name—are all around us. Let our answer be, like Mary’s—“I am the Lord’s servant.” 


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Cissie Graham Lynch

“I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:38)

Can you imagine this scene in first-century Nazareth? Mary, a Jewish teenager probably no more than 14 years old, a girl from a small village who is engaged to be married but still a virgin, has just encountered an angel who has told her that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit—and give birth to the long-awaited Messiah of Israel.

There’s really no way to overstate the gravity of that moment. My head spins when I imagine this unexpected turn in Mary’s life. The best of young women would tremble in fear or waver in disbelief. But not Mary. Her faithful response echoes across time as an example for every single person who would follow after the Child she is to carry in her womb.

Amid this news, we see Mary settle into a sense of peace and assurance. She knows that uncertainty and difficulty and almost certain public shame will await her as a young woman pregnant out of wedlock. Yet she also knows who her God is, and she knows His unchanging character. And because she knows who He is, she responds as she does, adding, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” What a beautifully powerful moment of faith and obedience that would lead to a life of service.

And what a striking contrast to the self-consumed world in which we live.

Our society’s idea of service to others without expecting anything in return is an afterthought at best, and at worst something to be avoided. And those attitudes seem to be contagious. For example, who hasn’t noticed what seems to be a decline in how many employees in retail and other business sectors serve customers? A Forbes magazine article last year titled, “Is the Golden Age of Customer Service Behind Us?” likely resonated with readers in our post-pandemic world. Meanwhile, too many of our rising generation believe service is beneath them.

Since I was a young girl, both of my parents have demonstrated service to others as a way of life, and I was taught that no job is beneath me. Serving others is how we show our love while also exemplifying the love and humility of Christ. Like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, we serve people at their greatest need—in the ditches and storms of life—so that they might see Christ in us.

The truth is, taking the approach of a servant requires humility and a focus on others, and it ultimately leads to a better world to live in. Multiple scientific studies have shown that service has a healing effect on those who practice it. It makes good sense.

But for the Christian, our purposes go beyond the temporal to the eternal. The service Christ calls us to—and the kind Mary demonstrates—stands apart because of Whom we serve first and foremost. It flows from a heart of humble worship toward a majestic and gracious Savior.

Mary, this “highly favored one,” is at first troubled (Luke 1:29) by the angel Gabriel’s greeting, but then she seems to turn and almost lean into the hardship she will endure. She knows she is surrendering her life for a life of service to God and the responsibility of raising the very Son of God. No wavering for Mary.

That surrender, that humility, really gets at what being a servant of God is.

This model servant displayed remarkable confidence that her God was worthy of her whole heart and life, daunting as her new job description might have seemed. 

And of all the ways Mary could have identified herself, she chooses the term the Lord’s servant. The more I have thought about it, the more it makes sense. The call to servanthood perfectly aligns with what God calls every believer to be. 

In Matthew 20, we read about the mother of James and John, who is self-seeking in hoping that her sons can have prestigious places at the left and the right of Jesus when He comes into His Kingdom. 

Jesus quickly turns her worldly conception of greatness upside down:

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

Our Lord’s words are clear: There is nothing greater, nothing more Christlike, than surrendering our lives to serving God and others. 

So here’s the question: Who are we serving? First, are we surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ? If we are in Christ, our service begins there. And it flows out from there.

This Christmas, and throughout the next year, will we, like Mary, prepare to serve God with an unwavering focus, even when life takes unexpected turns? 

Our world endlessly pursues power, influence and self-interest. In such a world, Mary’s