Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
As profound as that statement is, we need to understand exactly what Jesus means when He uses the words servant and slave and just how important this is to our way of life.
I recently read a book titled “The Message” written by Lance Richardson. In this book the author adds some interesting insight to the meaning of these two words, servant and slave. The author tells the story of an injury he sustained. He details his hospital experience as a result of this injury. He describes how his condition steadily deteriorated while in the hospital till he ultimately dies as a result of his injuries. Through the marvels of modern medicine, he is eventually revived and restored to health. Most of the book is devoted to the author describing, in detail, his experiences while his body was clinically dead. And as a result of those experiences he says he is given a message to deliver upon his return to mortality.
The message basically is addressed to all of the citizens of the United States. The message cautions that we, as a nation, are allowing ourselves to be turned away from the moral values that once made us strong. We are forgetting that truth is eternal and unchanging and instead we are wrongly adopting a belief that truth is relative and that it changes with time. He reminds us that God is the Father of us all and that we must not allow Him to become a stranger in our nation. He goes on to remind us that the family is the center and the foundation of our society, and that within the family lies the answer to most of the problems that we are facing as a nation today. The author says that it was explained to him that it is God’s will that He continue to bless and protect our nation, and honor our desire for peace and freedom. But we, as a nation, must continue to persevere in our efforts to honor and serve Him. And he concludes by saying that we honor and serve our God by honoring and serving our fellow man. The secret, therefore, to a great and blessed society rests squarely in the hands of its people and in their ability to not only understand the meaning of that word “service” but also to live it out as individuals and as a people. The author said,
“They taught me that Service was the answer to reclaiming our society and changing the hearts of us, as a people. Service, as they explained to me, is the action form of Love. The command to Love One Another could have easily been worded, If you love one another, then serve one another.
But the word Service has lost its impact, meaning, and importance. It has become a word that is almost trite. After all, everyone knows that Service helps people. Everyone knows that Service is good. It is such an old idea that no one takes it very seriously anymore. But it is a principle of truth which has existed forever.
I was privileged to witness the paradise that existed in the Spirit World, and I was taught that the principle of Service had been one of the most important keys in forming any great society.”
After Mr. Richardson, the author, returned to full health, he and his family took this message of service to heart and implemented this ideal in their lives in some interesting and inventive ways. For example, they, as a family, decided to take a two week vacation and travel from place to place doing service, just to see what would happen. They even had little coupons printed that said, “Sometimes it’s just nice to know somebody cares. Have a great day.” And they signed their names to it. He said that he and his family had been on many vacations but that they had never been on a vacation that was more fun or more rewarding.
He said that they discovered that these little coupons always had a profound impact on the people to whom they gave them. He cited several examples. On one occasion they stopped in a small deli to get something to eat. Their young son gave a coupon to the young lady that was serving them. She looked at the coupon in surprise and said, “What’s this for?” He said, “It’s for you. We just wanted you to know we care and we hope you have a nice day.” The girl read the coupon, burst into tears, and ran to the back room. Minutes later the girl returned with tears still in her eyes and said, “You have no idea how badly I needed to know that someone cared today. I can’t tell you how much this means.” They continued on their trip, passing those coupons out to anyone who looked like they needed a friend.
They expanded their deeds of service to also include their rendering acts of service to the communities that they visited. On one occasion, they visited a beach along the Pacific coast. They took some large garbage bags to pick up the trash that was lying on the beach. He said that they were not able to move more than twenty feet at a time without someone stopping to ask what they were doing. They would typically say, “What are you guys doing?”
“Oh, we are just picking up garbage here on the beach.”
“We just thought that it would be a nice thing to do and it looks like it needs it.”
“Where are you from?”
“We’re from Idaho.”
“You’re from Idaho and you’re cleaning up our beach? Why?”
“We just wanted to help out.”
That was always met with an offer, “Can I help?”
Before long they were accompanied by a fairly large group of people who had joined them picking trash up off of the beach.
Their entire vacation was spent helping and serving the people and the communities that they visited. They came to the conclusion that, deep down inside, people really do want to be of service to others. They just don’t know how, and they don’t know what to do. They found that what everyone desperately needed was to have someone show them how; to show them the way.
The concept of service, and our rendering service to our fellow man, is the answer to reclaiming our society and restoring the Godly principles that we once held so dear. But you may ask, “What good can I do? How can my small acts of service change a nation?” Mr. Richardson answers that question by citing an old story.
An old philosopher took one of his students to a pond of water and asked his student this question,
Does a single solitary act of one, have a far reaching effect on another?
The young student replied,
It would certainly affect those nearby, but it could not influence those far away. Could it, master?
The old teacher said, “Watch this!” as he picked up a large stone and threw it into the pond. The stone splashed into the water and ripples spread across the pond and splashed up on the surrounding shoreline. The old philosopher said,
Note that not only the rock and the water, but the entire pond had been affected by my action. So it is with each act of your solitary life. Never doubt the far-reaching effects one’s act can have on others.
Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant, whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” This statement not only defines the actions and behavior that our Heavenly Father expects from us, His children, this philosophy is also the answer to all of the problems facing our society. Therefore, the key to solving the problems that face our nation today rests squarely in the hands of us, its people! Remember, we render love, honor and service to our Heavenly Father by loving, honoring and serving one another. Remember also that Service is the action form of Love.