A BIG, little Word

Okay, it's an ambitious scheme, and if I don't get past the first verse of the book soon, it will never happen, at least not in my lifetime.

I've been working on a revision of the original series of studies I did in the Book of Romans. It struck me yesterday that perhaps I should be thinking bigger than just a nine week series, that maybe I should turn the course into a book.

So I went back this morning to my first study and began to amplify it. The trouble is—I haven't been able to get past the first verse! This project could take a while.

Since I'm on the first verse, allow me to share it with you. Paul writes: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…" (1:1, NIV). Not only can't I get past the first verse, I haven't managed to get past the word "servant." Who could know there was so much in a word.

Paul not only committed himself to being a servant of Christ Jesus, he also committed himself to serving LIKE Christ Jesus. His life reflected the words of Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 20:25-28, NIV: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Paul took the Lord's example literally. He says in Romans 9:2-3, NIV: "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers…" Failing that possibility, we know from Paul's story that he gladly spent his life, and went to his death, for the sake of Christ and the gospel.

We hear the phrase "servant leadership" a lot these days. I could be wrong but I don't recall that serving to the death appears on any of the lists that describe what servant leadership really is. Funny, eh?

But Jesus, Paul, and many others understood what being a leader was all about, and what being a servant was all about. In a way those few words at the very beginning of the Book of Romans, so easily skipped over, carry within them huge lessons for all of us. Small wonder it's taking so long to get out of this first verse!


  1. Delving in deep waters! it gives "servant leadership" a meaning few of us consider when we use the term. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts from Romans. Blessings!


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