“27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” – Luke 22:27 (NRSV)
It is a natural component of our basic thinking that we structure the world in hierarchies, from worst to best. Seek out and hope for the best; look out for and avoid the worst. The instinct makes its way into our conscious brains, as well. We apply this filter to all areas of our lives and foster our personal judgments about others and ourselves to determine how we “rank”. We’re accustom to using this as part of our social navigation systems especially.
Jesus often prescribed ideas that require a re-wiring of our selves. It’s not in our nature to “serve others” as a rule. The laws of the natural world make us selfish in obvious ways, but mostly unconsciously do we “self-serve”. As Jesus often did, he uses himself as an example, living by and embodying the concepts he preached. Jesus’ first order for his own life was to serve all of mankind.
Jesus helped us to understand the “selfish benefit” of our “selfless acts”. The most important benefit of any of our actions and thoughts are to please God, which comes with infinite and abundant blessings. But on a more practical humanistic level we get the benefit of improved human-to-human interaction.
If it is our nature to seek the best for ourselves, then live to embody the rule “treat others as you wish to be treated”. Hence, if you serve those around you, you will also be the beneficiary of equal and more serving of others unto you. That’s a pretty good deal, indeed.
Practice this with sincerity, an open heart and with complete selflessness. It is the application of this that mostly pleases God above all else, perhaps even more than faith. Being good whilst ignorant of faith is better than being bad with knowledge of faith.