Models of Servanthood

June 28, 2020 ()

Bible Text: Philippians 2:17-30 |


Models of Servanthood | Philippians 2:17-30
Brian Hedges | June 28, 2020

Let me invite you to turn in God’s word this morning to Philippians 2, and while you’re turning there, let me just give you a little quiz and see if you can answer of these questions in your own mind.

Could you name the top five wealthiest people in the world? Or, perhaps, could you name the five most recent winners of the Nobel Peace Prize? Or try this: anyone know the last five people who were inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame? Or maybe the last five directors who won either best picture or best director for an Oscar-winning movie in the Academy Awards?

My guess is that most of us, at best, could only get two or three names in that list of the world’s greatest, most successful people. Those kinds of things are the way that the world measures success. It looks at that person’s career, it looks at their achievements, it looks at their ambitions, it looks at what they do in the world (in the arts or in science or in peace or in athletics or in business, or whatever), and it measures success in those ways.

It’s very different how success is measured in the kingdom of God. Let me ask you another question that I think all of us could answer. Could you name five people who have helped you in a time of crisis? Could you point to five people in your life who have shared the love of Jesus Christ with you, or five people who have befriended you and really met your needs during a crucial time in your life?

My guess is that all of us could come up with a list of names like that, of people who actually loved us and cared for us. These would not be people who are among the world’s most successful, but they are the people who actually make the most impact on our own lives.

I think this little exercise reminds us of a crucial truth about the kingdom of God, and that is this, that in the way of Jesus, serving others is the measure of greatness. Let me say that again. This is the main idea of the sermon this morning. In the kingdom of God, in the way of Jesus, serving others is the measure of greatness. The passage that we’re going to look at this morning is all about that truth. It’s showing us that truth.

Now, let me just give you a little bit of background to this passage in Philippians 2. The apostle Paul is writing from prison, probably in Rome, and he’s writing to a church that he had founded about ten years previously in this Roman colony of Philippi. He’s writing to this church because he cares for them, they have sent a gift to him, and he’s concerned about their wellbeing, he’s concerned about unity in the church, he’s concerned about servanthood and humility in the church, and he has been exhorting them to live in a certain way.

In chapter 1:27 he exhorts them to live lives that are “worthy of the gospel of Christ,” to live as citizens in a way that fits the gospel. Then in chapter 2 he exhorts them to unity and to embrace the mindset of Jesus Christ. Then he describes that mindset, he describes the mind of Christ as he speaks about how Jesus, who is in the very form of God, and yet he did not count equality with God something to be grasped at or be exploited, but rather he came in human form and he took on the form of a servant and he became obedient to death, even to death on a cross. And now “God has highly exalted him and [given] him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” So he gives us the gospel.

Then, in light of that gospel, he begins to exhort the Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, for it’s God who’s working in them to will and to work for his good pleasure; and he exhorts them to live in a certain way in the world, to shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.

Now, in chapter 2:17, Paul begins to describe examples of this kind of life. In fact, in the verses that follow (from verse 17 to verse 30), we actually get three vignettes, three pictures of servanthood. Now, in a way Paul is disclosing his plans—this reads almost like a travel log, travel plans as he’s talking about his own ambition and desire and then how he is keeping a man named Timothy there with him for a time but wants to eventually send him back to Philippi, and he’s sending back a man named Epaphroditus. But the way he describes these men, and even the way he describes himself, exemplifies the very things that he’s been talking about and exhorting these Philippian believers to apply in their lives. So essentially he is showing us models of servanthood. He’s showing us this basic biblical truth, that in the way of Jesus serving others is the measure of greatness.

So I want to read through this passage and just walk through the three examples of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, and show how each one of them embodies and exemplifies this basic principle. Let’s read the passage, Philippians 2:17-30. Paul is speaking. He says,

“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”

This is God’s word.

Just as you and I can name certain people in our lives who really had an impact on us, Paul could say the same, so he names these dear friends, Timothy and Epaphroditus. He shares something of his own heart as well. As we look at these vignettes, these portraits of servanthood, it’s going to show us three things, examples of three things that all together embody this principle of servanthood.

I want you to see that Paul is an example of joyful sacrifice, that Timothy is an example of selfless service, and that Epaphroditus is an example of costly love. In a way, they all embody the same thing, but Paul describes it with unique language for each person, and each one of them gives us kind of a unique angle on what it means to imitate Jesus, to be like Jesus, and to be a servant. Let’s look at each one of these.

1. Paul: An Example of Joyful Sacrifice

First of all, Paul. Paul is an example of joyful sacrifice. You see that in verses 17-18. Just read that text again. Paul says, “Even if I am to be poured as a rink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” There’s the note of joy. “Likewise, you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Now, Paul here, remember, is writing from prison. He’s writing from prison in Rome, he doesn’t know whether he’s going to be set free, he doesn’t know what the verdict will be, whether he’ll be set free or he will die. He thinks maybe he’ll be set free in chapter 1, but he’s ready to die, and he says, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

He’s thinking about his situation and the possibility of his martyrdom in terms of sacrifice. Paul here is using Old Testament language, and he’s applying it to himself in a way that the New Testament commonly does. He uses this Old Testament language of sacrifice to describe the new covenant life of the believer, the person who belongs to the new covenant who lives their life as a sacrifice for God.

For example, most of you will know Romans 12:1, where Paul, after 11 chapters of doctrine, then begins to apply it, and says, “Therefore, brothers, I beseech you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living God…” He’s using this language of sacrifice and worship, and is saying essentially, “This is your only reasonable, rational response to the gospel, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God.”

That language is used also in Philippians 4. Paul refers there to the gift, the financial gift that the Philippian church has sent to him, and he calls it a “fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”

Or to give you one other example, in Hebrews 13, the writer there describes our worship in terms of sacrifice. “Through him [that is, through Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”

So, what you and I were just doing as we were lifting up our voices in song to the Lord—“Great are you, Lord”—when you and I do that, we are offering a sacrifice of praise to God.

So Paul is using that language, the language of sacrifice, language that describes the life of the believer, and he’s using it in a specific way to describe his own potential death for the sake of Christ. It’s interesting, because he picks out a particular aspect of sacrifice, what was called the drink offering.

F.F. Bruce, a New Testament scholar, explains. He says, “When a sacrifice, such as a burnt offering with its accompanying cereal offering, was presented in the temple at Jerusalem, a drink offering or libation of wine or olive oil might be poured over it or beside it. This was added last and completed the sacrifice.”

You see that language in Paul. “Even if I am poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith…” You see how he’s using the language there? “My life is the drink offering poured out on your sacrifice, the sacrifice of your faith.”

It’s similar to wonderful words from an old hymn by Charles Wesley, where Wesley uses this language of sacrifice. He says,

“O thou who camest from above,
The fire celestial to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
Upon the mean altar of my heart.

“There let it for thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze,
And trembling to its source return
In humble prayer and fervent praise.”

There’s the sacrifice of praise. Now listen to this last verse.

“Ready for all thy perfect will
My acts of love and faith repeat,
’Til death thy endless mercies seal
And make the sacrifice complete.”

How many people in the course of church history have sealed their sacrifice, have completed the sacrificial offering of themselves to God, by sealing it with their own blood! A willingness to die for Christ; that’s what Paul is talking about. He’s using this imagery, but as F.F. Bruce comments, he does it with one material difference, in that his death would make their sacrifice complete. His death would just be the drink offering poured on the sacrifice of the Philippians’ faith.

In essence, what he is saying is that “if my martyrdom somehow completes your faith, fulfills your faith, or helps you to live out the sacrificial offering of your faith, then I’m fine with that. I will joyfully give my life in ministry if it will help you.”

Once again, it shows the pervasive Christ-centeredness of the apostle Paul. It shows his love for the Philippian church, it shows his heart as a pastor, with his concern for their faith and his utter disregard for himself. His only ambition is to serve Christ and Christ’s people in life and death. “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” Joyful sacrifice, a joyful willingness to give himself for others.

Again, when you look at church history and the missionaries and the martyrs of the church who’ve made the deepest sacrifice, you know what they say? They say it wasn’t really a sacrifice. “It was my joy to do this.”

For example, David Livingstone, that great pioneer missionary into the heart of Africa in the 19th century, near the end of his life, on December 4, 1857, he was speaking to students at Cambridge University, and this is what he said. “People talk of the sacrifice I’ve made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blessed reward and healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such of you and with such a thought! I never made a sacrifice.”

This is the paradox of living in the way of Jesus. The more you sacrifice for Jesus, the more joy you will have. The more you give for Jesus, the less it feels like a sacrifice, because there’s joy in giving your life for something greater than yourself. The apostle Paul embodies that. He says, “Even if my life is poured out as a drink offering to complete your faith, that’s a joy. I will be glad and I will rejoice, and you should as well.” So, Paul is an example of joyful sacrifice.

2. Timothy: An Example of Selfless Service

Then he begins to talk about Timothy, who is an example of selfless sacrifice, the second point. You see this in verses 19-24. Let me read verse 19. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.” Drop down to verse 22. He says, “But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.”

Here’s Paul’s desire. He wants to go, he wants to send Timothy, but he’s holding Timothy back for a period of time as he awaits the verdict on his own life.

I love the way Paul describes Timothy. He says, “ a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” Timothy and Paul had this close relationship. Paul was his father in the faith, Timothy was his son. Paul was his mentor. Paul discipled Timothy. Timothy learned from Paul, was his apprentice, so to speak.

Timothy had so developed in his Christ-likeness that Paul had unqualified trust in him. He says, “You know Timothy’s proven worth.” In fact, he elevates him above everybody else. He says, “I have nobody else like Timothy. Nobody’s like Timothy. Timothy has served with me like a son with a father; he has served with me in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

In fact, when Paul writes another letter to a very distressed and conflicted and troubled church, the church at Corinth, he commends Timothy in particular as a model that they are to follow. In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul writes to them to admonish them as beloved children. He says, “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I send you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you for my ways in Christ as I teach them everywhere, in every church.”

You get the pattern? “I follow Christ; imitate me. The reason I’m sending Timothy is so that you can imitate me, so that you can follow my ways as I follow Jesus.” There’s a chain here: Jesus to Paul, Paul to Timothy, Timothy to the Corinthians.

This is right at the heart of Christian discipleship. Years ago I read a statement from George Sweeting, who was chancellor at Moody. Sweeting said that everyone should have a Paul, a Timothy, and a Barnabas. A Paul—someone to disciple you; a Barnabas—someone to partner with in ministry; a Timothy—someone that you’re pouring into.

You should ask yourself that question right now. Is there a Paul in your life? Is there someone who’s discipling you, mentoring you, pouring into you? Is there a Barnabas in your life? Are you locking arms with a brother or a sister in Christ and doing ministry with them? And is there a Timothy in your life? Is there someone that you are discipling, that you are pouring your life into?

Paul loved Timothy, a father like his son, and he now commends Timothy to the church “for his selfless service.” Look at how he describes this, especially in verses 20-21. He says, “For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

Isn’t it interesting the connection here? “Nobody’s like Timothy, who’s genuinely concerned for your welfare; everybody else seeks their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” In other words, to seek the interest of Jesus Christ is to seek the welfare of the church, the welfare of Jesus Christ’s people. We live a Christ-centered life by living in service to others. That’s the idea. It’s a direct echo of what Paul has already told the Philippian church to do in chapter 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but to the interests of others.” It’s a selfless life, a life of selfless service. Timothy is this example.

Now, by way of contrast, let me tell you a little story. I read this years ago from C.S. Lewis. Anybody who knows me knows that I love C.S. Lewis. This is a fictional story, and it’s actually not Narnia, for a change! This is a short story that I think is overlooked, it’s not as widely read as many of Lewis’s stories, and it’s called “The Shoddy Land.” The word “shoddy” means something that is inferior in quality, something that’s not made very well.

It’s called “The Shoddy Land,” and Lewis tells this story kind of in his own voice. He talks about how he is meeting in his room with a former student, a guy named Durward (very British name, right?). Durward has brought along with him his new fiancé, named Peggy. So Lewis is disappointed they’re not able to talk about the things that he and Durward actually have in common, because that would leave Peggy out.

So they’re kind of having the boring kind of small-talk conversation that so often happens; they’re talking about weather, and so on. Suddenly Lewis says that he is transported to another world. He’s in this other realm, and he doesn’t know whether he’s dreaming or he’s died or what has happened, but it’s a world that’s gray, it’s dull, it’s monotonous, it’s boring. He looks up to the sky and it barely looks like a sky. It’s just kind of gray above; nothing distinctive like the sky.

He looks around, and he sees what he thinks are trees—there are these tall stalks of something with blobs of green—but he says, “They were the crudest, shabbiest apology for trees you could imagine. They had no real anatomy, even no real branches. They were more like a lamp post with great shapeless blobs of green stuck on top of them.” The same thing of grass. There’s some spongy substance with dingy green color beneath his feet, but no distinct blades of grace. Flowers are just kind of blobs of color, but no distinct shape to the flowers, except for daffodils, and those are very distinct.

Suddenly he begins to realize that most things are gray and blurry and shoddy and monotonous and nondescript, but occasionally he’ll see something that is vivid. He passes people, and they look like walking things. Their faces are just a blur, except for the faces of handsome young men; their faces are clear. Their clothes are all blurry, except for the clothes of attractive women; those clothes are very distinct. He passes a jewelry store, and every piece of jewelry in the jewelry store is sharp and vivid and clear; every cut of the diamond can be seen.

Then he sees something that looks like a huge building at first, and then he realizes it’s a person. It’s a giant person, and in fact, it’s a giant woman, and he suddenly realizes that this woman is Peggy; it’s the woman that’s sitting there in the room, but it’s Peggy improved. It’s Peggy who looks like “the girl in the advertisements,” as Lewis describes it—complexion perfect, like an expensive doll; perfect face, perfect figure, fuller lips; but less kind and less honest.

What Lewis realizes is that he has been let into the mind of this woman, Peggy, who is essentially a narcissistic, self-centered person, for whom the whole world and all the people in it are just kind of dull, monotonous things, except for a few vain things that interest her.

Here’s Lewis’s description. He says, “My view is that by the operation of some unknown psychological or pathological law I was for a second or two let into Peggy’s mind, at least to the extent of seeing her world, the world as it exists for her. At the center of that world is a swollen image of herself, remodeled to be as like the girls in the advertisements as possible. Round this are grouped clear and distinct images of the things she really cares about; beyond that, the whole earth and sky are a vague blur.”

Now, there’s one other detail of the story that’s so important, and that is that Lewis hears a faint knocking and two voices. One voice is softly saying, “Peggy, Peggy, let me in,” and it’s the voice of her fiancé. The other voice is saying, “Child, child, let me in before the night comes,” and it’s the voice of her Creator.

It’s a powerful story, isn’t it, that gives us a picture of a self-centered life, the colorless, dull monotony of a self-centered life that only cares about oneself, a swollen image of oneself at the center of that life, and a few vain things that such a person cares about; but the world, with all its color and variety, and the people, with all of their individuality, are just a blur. Uninteresting.

It’s the exact opposite of Jesus Christ, and it’s the exact opposite of the portrait that Paul gives of Timothy, who is genuinely concerned for the welfare of others. I wonder which description most fits our own hearts?

Listen, the most Christ-centered person you’ll ever meet will probably not be some great preacher or theologian who studies a lot about Jesus, but will rather be the humble ordinary believer who thinks other people are more important than herself and who finds genuine joy in finding small, unseen ways to serve others. Timothy was such a person, and Paul commends him to this church.

3. Epaphroditus: An Example of Costly Love

Paul, an example of joyful sacrifice; Timothy, an example of selfless service; and then finally, we turn to Epaphroditus, who was an example of costly love.

A little bit of background on Epaphroditus. He was, we think, from Philippi itself. He was from the city, from this church, and the Philippian church had sent Epaphroditus to Paul with a letter with news of the church and with a financial gift. Paul references that in chapter 4:18. He says, “I have received full payment and more; I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

Paul describes Epaphroditus in this wonderful, beautiful five-fold way. You see this in verse 25. “I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier and your messenger and minister to my need.” It’s one of the most comprehensive descriptions of a servant of Christ, a servant of the church, anywhere in Scripture. He says, “He’s my brother! He’s one with me in the family. He’s a fellow brother in Christ, but he’s also a fellow worker.” Here’s someone who works hard, who labors in the gospel. He’s a fellow soldier; he’s in the warfare, he’s in the trenches. “This is someone fighting right alongside me, and he’s your messenger. You’ve entrusted him, and he’s fulfilled this ministry, and he’s a minister, he’s a servant to my need.”

Then, in verses 26-28 he describes Epaphroditus’s illness. He had been ill, he had been sick, even to the point of death, and Paul said that he was close to dying. He says that God had mercy on him, lest sorrow would be added to sorrow in Paul’s life. There’s not a lot to say about that, except this: it doesn’t seem like Paul was able to actually heal on demand. It’s not as though Paul just had a power of healing, could snap his fingers and command healing into Epaphroditus’s life. He really was near the point of death, and yet God did heal him and was merciful.

Now he is well again, and Epaphroditus wants Paul to assure the church of his own health. He doesn’t want the church to be distressed. And Paul is sending Epaphroditus back.

Look at verses 29-30, and you see his costly love. “So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men…” Now he gives the reason for it. “...honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.”

The word “risking” literally means to gamble. William Barclay says, “It is a gambler’s word, and it means to stake everything on a turn of the dice.” Have you ever heard that song “The Gambler”? You have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them, et cetera. This is as closest you’re going to find to “The Gambler” in the New Testament!

Epaphroditus is the gambler, but he’s not gambling with money, he’s gambling with his life; he’s risking his life, and he’s risking his life for the sake of Christ. He’s risking his life for the gospel. Do you see it? “He nearly died for the work of Christ, risking—” gambling—“his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” So, in other words, the Philippian church entrusted Epaphroditus with a task: “Take this gift, take this message to Paul,” and Epaphroditus risks his life to fulfill the ministry, the task that has been given to him. He’s an example of faithfulness, he’s an example of costly, risk-taking love. Faithfulness to the mission that he had been entrusted with. Paul exhorts us as Christians to receive and honor such people, honor people for their costly love.

One of my favorite stories of all is Les Misérables, the novel written by Victor Hugo, and of course the wonderful Broadway play. Maybe you’ve seen it. I’ve seen it a couple of times, and I’m always moved to tears. In fact, sometimes even when I read the words to some of the songs, it almost will move me to tears. They’re so moving.

It’s the story of Jean Valjean, who is this ex-convict, and a bishop shows kindness to him in his life. He stills from this bishop, and the bishop forgives him, doesn’t prosecute, and essentially says, “I bought your life for God; now be a new man.” He’s completely changed; his complete identity is changed, as he is transformed through the love of this bishop, the forgiveness of this bishop.

Jean Valjean begins to live a responsible life, a life in service to his community and to others. If you know the story, he meets this poor woman who’s had such a terrible and hard life, a woman named Fantine. She’s a dying woman, a prostitute, who has this child named Cosette. Jean Valjean swears as she’s dying that he will take care of this child; that he will find her and that he will care for her needs.

He does so. At great risk to his own life—he’s running from Javert, the inspector who’s trying to prosecute him and put him in jail once again—risking his life, taking care of Cosette.

I love at the very end of the play, it’s kind of the finale of the play, when Jean Valjean finally, as an old man, is dying, and in the scene in the play, he’s dying and he’s speaking, and there’s this song where you have several people singing at once. You have Jean Valjean on one hand and Cosette and Marius on the other, and then Fantine, who’s died but is now welcoming Jean Valjean into the afterlife. I want to read the words, because these final words I think just nail what this passage is talking about.

Jean Valjean says,

“On this page I write my last confession.
Read it well, when I at last am sleeping.
It’s the story of one who turned from hating,
The man who only learned to love
When you were in his keeping.”

He’s speaking to Cosette. Fantine says,

“Come with me, where chains will never bind you;
All your grief at last, at last behind you.
Lord in heaven, look down on him in mercy…”

And then to Jean Valjean,

“Take my hand, I will lead you to salvation.
Take my love, for love is everlasting.”

Then here are the final words:

“And remember the truth that once was spoken,
To love another person is to see the face of God.”

It’s a story about costly love, and it’s a story that points us to the real costly love, the costly love of Jesus Christ. Listen, there was never love more costly than the love of Jesus. There was never a more selfless servant than Jesus Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for others. There was never a more joyful sacrifice than Jesus when he sacrificed himself! With the joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame. That’s the gospel. It’s the heart of the gospel.

When that truth, when that good news captures your heart, you know what it does? It begins to change you, it begins to transform you, it melts your will into this condition where you can be completely reshaped into the image of Jesus. Our response, the only reasonable response to this gospel is to make our lives a living sacrifice, a life of joyful sacrifice, presented to God; a life of selfless service to others; a life of costly love to others. In the way of Jesus, serving others is the measure of greatness.

Are you in that way? Are you living in that way? Have you discovered that joy? It’s the greatest life imaginable, and it’s a life that does not live for oneself, with your own swollen image of yourself at the center of your little boring universe, it is a life that is lived for Jesus Christ and for others. That’s the life he invites us into. Let’s pray together.

In the words of that English Reformer Thomas Cranmer we pray, “O thou, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the wills that serve thee, help us so to know thee that we may truly love thee, so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Father, we pray these words, we pray that your Holy Spirit would now take the truth of the gospel, take the truth of Scripture, this passage, the examples of these godly saints who lived in the way of Jesus; may your Spirit apply these truths deep into our own hearts and lives. Lord, would you free us from the shackles of self-centeredness. Would you help us discover the paradoxical joy of living our lives sacrificially for others, pursuing not our own interests, but the interests of others; of taking risks in order to love.

We thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for the gospel, we thank you for this good news. It is beautiful to our hearts. As we celebrate it this morning at the table, may it be transforming in our lives. So grant us grace, grant us mercy as we worship you together. We pray it in Jesus’ name and for his sake, Amen.