The opening four words of the book of Titus tell us much about Paul – How he saw himself and the role he sought to play. “Paul, a servant of God.” Let’s make sure we catch that. A servant not a dictator; one who lived for others and not for self. Servant. A leader in the truest sense of the word. This greatest of all missionaries served, and he served well. Since meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road, Paul had devoted his life to Christ and by consequence, to lost sinners. His was a life of obedience – a life of no compromise. He was sold out for Jesus, on fire for his Lord and what an adventure and impact he had! Today, let the acronym SERVE remind us of Paul’s faithful life in ministry:
Paul Stood firm in the faith – He never shirked a challenge or missed an opportunity. He never bowed down to public opinion or allowed majority vote to rule. Indeed, as he writes in Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul was authentic – A “God pleaser” – Through and through.
Paul Equipped others – He guided them both by his example and by teaching the truth. Paul knew firsthand the liberating effect of God’s forgiveness, knowing that Christ, and Christ alone, could transform a life, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
Paul served by raising up others in the faith.
Paul Rebuked false teachers – He called them rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers (Titus 1:10). He castigated them further by labeling them liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12).
Paul never minced words to pacify his audience.
Paul Valued others in ministry – He didn’t laud it over his ministry partners. He recognized their importance and made a point of giving thanks for their contribution. He spoke warmly to Timothy with the instruction to, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). Paul was grateful for the support and encouragement of fellow believers.
Paul looked at life from an Eternal perspective – He knew where he was going. In fact, he longed for that day when he would meet Jesus face to face. He lived his days with purpose and passion, “considering everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8). His beatings, shipwrecks, stoning, imprisonments – all of the suffering he endured could not dent his witness for Christ. His words to the Philippians affirm his supreme confidence…“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Like the great Hymn writer of old Horatio Spafford, he could boldly say that no matter what, “It is well with my soul”. Paul knew his calling, lived life to the full and eagerly anticipated heaven as his reward.
Today, if we forget the emphasis placed on each letter of the acronym, let’s at least remember the word itself. May we SERVE both God and others selflessly? May we go the extra mile and not count the cost, and may we lead and love others just like Paul…Just like Jesus!