Maturity, by its very nature, can only be seen in others, not declared to be possessed in one’s self. Humility is the foundation on which all other characteristics of maturity build. Humility can’t draw attention to itself without being false. Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another man praise you, and not your own tongue; a stranger and not your own lips.” (Prov. 27:21)
Humility is defined, according to Webster, as a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God. In my own words, humility is seeing yourself in light of God’s holiness through the lens of His mercy.
Bond-Service stems from an understanding of the price God paid to love us. (John 15:13) Jesus gave His life as a bride price for the church, His bride (Eph 5:25-27). In ancient times, the bride price was a payment given in public to show the value the bridegroom placed on his bride. Jesus chose us and considered our worth to be enough that He would die to have us (John 15:16; Rom 5:8). That knowledge, coupled with humility, leads to gratefulness and love, demonstrated in obeying Christ as it says in John 14:15; “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
Obedience to Christ is an ongoing thing. A bondservant must choose each day to obey his master, a Master he sold himself to of his own choice. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”
Obedience and serving are not always the same thing, because serving is a matter of the heart. It is the difference between service and servitude in a purely worldly sense. Servitude has a motive of duty behind every action, whether the actor wants to do the action or not, he must. Serving, on the other hand, doesn’t have that same duty driving it. It can, but the motive for serving (Service) is to be a help to the one being served. This comes back to Paul’s admonishment of the church in Philippians 2:3-4; “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that doing what you’re told to help someone out isn’t serving them, but it is all about the heart and your attitude about doing it. If you obey because it’s your duty, are you really serving? I believe that in this situation you have become a slave and not a bondservant, a servant who wants to serve his Master.
Selflessness is the regard of a person for others’ interests before one’s own (Phil 2:4). This takes humility because it is human nature to think of themselves first and often times neglect to think about the people around them. Really, John 3:30 is a necessary prayer: “He must increase and I must decrease.”
This maturity is not only for one person to enjoy. It must be acted out in interactions with others. Service to others is only meaningful by 1 Cor 13 when selflessness is involved in obedience to Christ. It is a vital part of us that was taken from us at the fall, when we were deceived into thinking that we could be like God. Only God could be God perfectly. I can’t truly be myself until I am truly selfless. As Psalm 17:15 says, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”
My prayer has become: “Lord, I choose to be your bondservant. Make me selfless as I humbly obey you. Mold me into the image of Your Son that I might reflect Christ.
I hope one day I’ll be able, like Paul, to say, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Cor 11:1)