The Mark Of A True Servant
A daily devotion for September 28th
14Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent you? 18I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not act in the same spirit and follow the same course?
19Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
1This will be my third visit to you. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." 2I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him to serve you.
After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well (2 Corinthians 12:14b-15a).
Paul gives himself in selfless love because he is the parent and they are the children; he had led them to Christ. It is the responsibility of parents to provide financially for their children and not to expect the children to support them. Many of you are parents, and some of you are laying aside money to be used for your children's education down the road. Your parent's heart desires to provide for the welfare and the future of your children because God has made it that way. One of the great marks of true servants of Christ is that they give themselves without restraint to those to whom they are ministering. They do not ask for anything back from them. What a contrast that is with false apostles. How upset they get if you do not minister in return to them.
But notice what Paul's attitude is. He says,
I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? That is, these Corinthians were not responding with love. The normal response of children to their parents' care is to love them. But even if the Corinthians do not, Paul says,
I am still going to pour out everything for you. And he indicates that his love is an unqualified form of love. I remember years ago reading a story of a mother who went down to breakfast one morning and found a bill from her son lying beside her plate. He had written it out for her:
- Mowing the lawn: $2.00
- Drying the dishes $1.00
- Raking leaves: $3.00
- Cleaning garage: $4.00
- Total owed: $10.00
His mother did not say anything but went about her work. When the boy came home from school for lunch that day, he found a bill lying beside his plate. It said:
- Ironing clothes: nothing
- Mending socks: nothing
- Cooking meals: nothing
- Bandaging cuts: nothing
- Baking cookies: nothing
That is the apostle's attitude. He does not expect anything in return. It would be nice if his efforts were reciprocated, but even if they are not, that is not going to stop him. That kind of selfless, unqualified love is the mark of a true servant of Christ. You can use it to test the claims of many voices today to determine whether they are the servants of Christ, because it is the invariable mark of those who genuinely love that they love without demanding something in return.
Lord, teach me to serve others without expectation of what I will get in return.
Life Application: God's love in Christ for us is immeasurable. Are we choosing to be living statements of that quality of love? Or do we put price tag on our relationships?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.