Monday, February 13, 2012

A Tale of Two Servants: Biblical Examples of Servanthood

Recently, I posted on my struggle to develop a servant's heart for my family. Serving others, particularly those in my own family, is often quite a challenge. Thankfully, the Bible is filled with countless examples of Godly men and women who possess a servant's heart and were blessed for their kindness, selflessness, hard work, and humility. Two excellent examples of genuine servants are found in Genesis 24: Abraham's unnamed chief servant and his grand-niece Rebekah.

In chapter 24, Abraham asks his servant to return to his homeland in Mesopotamia to find a wife for his son Isaac.  There are strict conditions to Abraham's request though: (1) The woman must not be a Canaanite but a relative; and (2) Isaac must not go with the servant to Abraham's country. Abraham even makes his servant swear an oath concerning the matter.

What strikes me immediately upon reading this story is the omission of the servant's name.  Many scholars suggest he is Eliezer from Genesis 15:2, but we aren't told that this is the same man.  The fact that his name and the details of his life are left out reveals that who he is and what he does is not important; what is significant is his loyalty to his master Abraham.  His anonymity is characteristic of a genuine servant: humble, devoted, faithful, and obedient.  He doesn't speak of himself but only of his master Abraham.   

When you serve in the name of our Lord Jesus, do you act in humility or boastfulness?  

Do you want His name to be glorified or yours?

The servant's heart for Abraham is also evident in the 500 mile journey he undertakes to Mesopotamia to fulfill a seemingly impossible task. For what woman would be willing to leave her home, her family, everything to travel with a complete stranger to marry a man whom she has never even met?  Yet, Abraham's servant trusted God. Before he even started looking for a wife for Isaac, he prayed for guidance. We can clearly see his faithfulness in his prayer:
"Then he prayed, 'O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.  See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water.  May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too'--let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac.  By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.'"

Genesis 24:12-14
What qualities in a wife had Abraham requested? All we know from reading Genesis 24 is that Isaac's wife should come from among Abraham's relatives in his country and not be a daughter of the Canaanites.

So what kind of woman does Abraham's servant ask God for in his prayer?  A wealthy woman?  A beautiful woman?  No and no. The servant prayed for a woman willing not only to draw water for him, but also willing to water his numerous camels. He was looking for a woman with a servant's heart, a woman willing to go above and beyond what was expected of her. 

That woman was Rebekah, the very first woman to approach the servant at the well.

In Genesis 24:18-20, we see Rebekah's response to the servant's request for water. Notice not only what she does but how she does it:

"'Drink, my lord,' she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, 'I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.' So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels."  {emphasis mine}
Rebekah provides water first to the servant and then to all ten of his camels.  She didn't just water the camels once but continued drawing water for them until they had finished drinking. Imagine how thirsty one camel would be, especially after a 500-mile trek through the desert!  My Bible commentary notes that a camel can drink up to 25 gallons of water after a week's travel. Rebekah must have been a very hard worker with a heart for serving others.  Her willingness to make trip after trip from the well to the trough carrying a heavy jar filled with water speaks volumes of her industriousness, and the fact that she ran back to the well to draw more water and acted quickly--probably thinking the man planned to leave soon--shows her servant's heart.

 When a need arises, do you act quickly or are you slow to respond?

Do you do the bare minimum or exceed expectations?

The story continues with Abraham's servant worshiping the Lord and thanking Him for His kindness and faithfulness to Abraham (Genesis 24:26-27) and Rebekah willingly abandoning her comfortable, familiar life to live in a new country with a new family and a husband she has never even set eyes on. What faithfulness!  What humility! What hearts for the Lord! And what love for others these two possessed!

Do you have a servant's heart? How do you respond to the call to serve? With reluctance or in haste? 

As I pray daily for a servant's heart, I thank God for the Biblical examples of people like Abraham's servant and Rebekah in Genesis 24 who encourage and inspire me to give my all, to go above and beyond the bare minimum, to act quickly for the good of others.

I hope you will check out my other posts on serving:
Praying for a Servant's Heart
10 Ways to Let Your Light Shine for Others
Stop Waiting for a Good Samaritan and Be One!
Serving Our Families: Having a Ruth-like Attitude
10 Ways to Serve My Family with Joy

I'm praying God's richest blessings for you as we strive to grow in His glory!


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