In connection with our being willing to serve others, I want to look at another passage from the apostle Paul—something that he wrote to the Corinthian Christians. By his background, Paul was a strict, observant, orthodox Jew. He was a Pharisee, and he had the qualifications to be a rabbi. His was the kind of righteousness that caused him to separate himself from other people, whom he regarded on a lower level or even despised.
But when he came to know Jesus, the most wonderful change took place in his nature. Bear in mind that the people of Corinth were basically the scum of the earth. In this epistle, Paul said that some of them had been homosexuals, some prostitutes, some drunkards, and some revilers. They were just not the best kind of people. Corinth was one of the major seaports of the ancient world, and, like many seaports, the city was filled with these sorts of people.
But let’s look at this astonishing statement of Paul: “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5 nasb).
Here is this proud Pharisee saying, “We are your slaves for the sake of Jesus”—even to the likes of the people of Corinth!
Notice the three steps. First, dethrone self: “not…ourselves.” Second, enthrone Christ: “Christ Jesus as Lord.” Third, serve others: “[we are] your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” Those three steps are so important. By love, serve others. That’s the message: escape from self-centeredness.