Could the little phrase in Rom. 12:11 “serving the Lord” be the key to Paul’s ethics in these chapters 12 – 15:6 ?

Humility and submission are the hallmarks of servanthood and service. When we see ourselves as servants/serving the Lord, or serving Christ 14:18, or following Christ Jesus 15:5, then all other service (to others) or submission (to authorities) is made easy. It is also “pleasing to God and approved by men” 14:18.

Jesus “took the very nature of a servant, humbled Himself and became obedient to death” Phil. 2. “He came to serve” Mk.10:45. “Even Christ did not please Himself” Rom.15:3 and “has become a servant” 15:8. Jesus is our perfect example in this. Paul delights to follow his Lord in this regard, describing himself immediately in Rom.1:1 “a servant of Christ Jesus“ before mentioning his apostleship. Finally he writes in 15:17 “I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.” Paul never forgot his Damascus Road commission; “I (Jesus) have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant …” Acts 26:16. He saw this as his primary role.

Is it possible then, when Paul applies his teaching (chs. 1-11) to us in 12:1 that our “spiritual act of worship” (NIV) is indeed our “reasonable service” (KIV)? Note that “reasonable” does not mean “fair” as we might speak of a “reasonable price”, but means “intelligent, considered, well thought through.” Do we see our service as our spiritual act of worship? Is it significant that when Paul speaks of “gifts according to the grace given us,” he mentions first “prophesying” (which we all should eagerly and specially desire 1 Cor. 14:1) and then secondly “serving” Rom. 12:7?

Is “serving the Lord” the key to “keeping (your spiritual fervour” and “never lacking in zeal” 12:11? Do we recognise the authorities as “God’s servants to do (you) us good” 13:4 and “God’s servants who give their full time to governing” 13:6? Do we recognise other believers, both strong and weak, as God’s servants? Paul asks directly; “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” and assures us; “to our own master, we stand or fall. And we will stand, for the Lord is able to make us stand” 14:4.

What a Master we serve! “So let us learn how to serve and in our lives enthrone Him, Each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving. This is our God, the Servant King. He calls us now to follow Him, To bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.”
G. Kendrick.

I also take Paul’s postscript in Rom.16:17-19 very much to heart lest I be classified among the people who are not serving our Lord, but their own appetites.”

Let me know your comments below