"Here is my servant, who I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations" (Isaiah, 42:1, NIV).
Imagine the scene. It is a Friday evening at a local mid-scale restaurant. You are out with friends and associates celebrating a recent achievement. It may not be the fanciest establishment, but the entrees and appetizers on the menu certainly appear to add up and guarantee the server a decent tip for the night. The place is somewhat packed with a steady stream of patrons coming in and filling the waiting area. The food and drinks are ordered and you and your party are enjoying the appetizers and friendly conversation when it happens. The meals are brought to the table by the server who has been great so far. She’s been friendly, attentive, and has seasoned the time with the right amount of conversation. As she places the plates in front of each one, she has no clue what is about to happen. It’s the one guy in the party who cuts into the steak and doesn’t find it to his liking.
Rather than mentioning it to the server so that she can return it to the kitchen, he becomes frustrated with the server and makes a point in front of the rest of the party. “This is NOT how I wanted this prepared. I’m not eating this and I’m not paying for this. Please go and get done right.” And with that, he dismisses her as though her personal value has been tainted by what has been perceived as her own personal failure. She takes the steak and returns to the kitchen. Though she had nothing to do with how the meal was prepared, she took the criticism on the chin and continued to serve with humility, grace, and determination.
Everyone wants to be identified as a servant until they feel they are being treated as one, or at least, mistreated as one. Even in the Bible times, servants were often seen as in a class lower than others. The very word “servant” is the word translated from bondservant or slave. In many cases it was more of an arrangement than a forced situation, it was still one in submission to the other. Servanthood does in fact call one into a life of submission. The work is not about the server, but about those being served. Their purpose is to ensure order in the midst of chaos and carry out the will of the one in charge.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God speaks of Jesus, but in a manner that can be applied to everyone that would identify with Jesus. “Here is my servant, who I uphold…” As in the case of the server in the restaurant, it doesn’t take much for someone to use your servanthood against you, to entice you to feel less than who you really are, or to lift themselves up at the expense of stepping on and over you. God says of His servant, “…I uphold…” The word used is one that means to grasp, to clasp the grip of His hand around that which is the object of His hold. It means to hold up, to retain, to sustain, and to see it remain. This is God’s eye and heart on those who choose to serve. When you feel as though you are taken advantage of, stepped on, not valued, and overlooked, keep your eyes on the God who loves you and has called you according to HIS purpose for you. He will uphold you. He will sustain you. Your value is not in those you serve, but in the ONE who called you to serve. Let everything you do be done in service to HIM who has called you.
When you know who upholds you, you can respond from the grace that He gives rather than from the wounds that have been inflicted. When Jesus came from Heaven to earth, He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. He didn’t always receive the honor that He was due. He was overlooked, underestimated, attacked, betrayed, mocked, spit upon, lied upon, shamefully paraded with the intention to humiliate, and was ultimately executed. Yet all in all, He responded, not out of His pain, but out of His purpose. He loved. Even on the cross, He spoke life and restoration to the thief beside Him, grace to the disciple who left Him, and forgiveness to all who had forsaken Him. In His darkest moments, Jesus still served. So, don’t let the emotions and humiliation drag you down a road of quick responses. Those who mistreat you and cannot change what they did not create. Your value is divinely authored. Respond out of who you are, not out of how you feel. Even in your darkest moments, know that you are called to serve, you are divinely valued, and you are upheld.