The Christian Law Of Service -- By: Samuel Harris

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 029:114 (Apr 1872)
Article: The Christian Law Of Service
Author: Samuel Harris


The Christian Law Of Service

Samuel Harris

The Christian law of service is proclaimed by the Saviour: “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” To the ambitious request of the mother of James and John for the highest places in his kingdom for her sons, he had replied by propounding the Christian law of service, and enforcing it with these most touching words, in which he presents his own life of sacrifice and service as the type of all Christian life. This law presents itself in two aspects: Greatness for Service; Greatness by Service.

Greatness for service. — Greatness does not entitle its possessor to compel the service of others, while he lives in idleness, sustained by their compelled ministrations; but it binds its possessor to render service to others. Greatness in wealth, learning, talent, position, or power of any kind, is bound to a commensurate greatness of service.

Greatness by service.—Service, always degrading from the selfish and heathen point of view, is itself the true greatness, and is ennobled as such by Christianity. The most complete development of the individual and his greatest consideration in society to be attained by service; no artificial ranks in Christ’s kingdom, exalting men merely by position — no pygmies on Alps; but greatness by service — an aristocracy of merit. The man who best serves society is to be the man of most weight in society — a king of men by divine right.

In considering this principle as the Christian law of service, we are primarily concerned with its first aspect: Greatness for Service.

I. The Significance of the Law.

1. The principle involved: Greatness carries in it the obligation to service.

Jesus refers to the contrary principle of heathen civilization: “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.” This principle is, that superior power of any kind is to be used in compelling the services of inferiors; the weak must serve the strong. The position of honor is found in living idly and luxuriously on the enforced service of others. Hence despotism, wars of conquest, racehatred and domination, slavery, the degradation of woman, characterize heathen civilization. Jesus says: “It shall not be so among you.” The contrary principle must characterize the kingdom of Christ. Thus he calls our attention to the fact that in this declaration he not only propounds...

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