In the beginning of this chapter we get a model for Christian service and leadership. Jesus demonstrates that the greatest in the kingdom of God are not the ones who are served, as was the case in that culture and ours, but the ones who do the serving. Because Jesus knew his identity in light of the Father’s love (v.3), he was able to serve others. John points out that it was Jesus’ confidence in the Father’s love for Him that enabled Him to serve others so humbly. You see, when a person is secure in his relationship with God he can serve others wholeheartedly and humbly without concern of rejection, humiliation or a lack of appreciation.
I have learned in my own ministry that I can serve most humbly and sacrificially when I’m finding my deepest satisfaction in my relationship with God. It’s only when I put God on the back-burner and forget that my ultimate identity is in Him and not in what I do for Him, that my ego rises up within me. When everything in my life becomes a force focused on love for God and for others, it doesn’t matter what people think of me because I am secure in Him. Today, I will be secure enough in my identity as God’s son that I will serve others humbly and unconditionally.
Jesus promises that he will one day send the Holy Spirit who will guide us in all truth by reminding us what Jesus said and did. Jesus says that if we love him we will obey him when the Holy Spirit prompts us. This is so basic to Christian faith that we often overlook it. Faith in Christ is not merely about believing the right thing or espousing the correct doctrines. These are important for obvious reasons, but even more basic to Christian faith is obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit when he leads us to live how Jesus lived. It seems so obvious to me that mature faith is not evidenced by what a person knows about God but by whether or not a person obeys God when prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so. The level of our love for Christ is determined by the frequency with which we obey him.
Sometimes I will disobey God and apologize with something like, “Lord, I’ so sorry, but you know that I really do love you.” While Jesus forgives me, I can almost picture him thinking, “okay, Len, but if you really do love me won’t you then obey me.” If your spouse asks you 1000 times to please help with the household chores and you refuse to lift a finger to help at all, what is the logical conclusion your spouse will come to? You don’t care, right? Eventually, your spouse will begin to wonder whether or not you’re really making any effort to love. Jesus feels the same. If we live with a low level of obedience and make little to no improvements in areas the Holy Spirit is prompting us to change, then Jesus can’t help but conclude that our love for Him is minimal because it is word-based, not obedience-based.