Identifying A Servant Of Christ

If I ask you to describe a chickadee, you might mention such identifying characteristics as size, color of its feathers or the distinct song it sings. But if I ask you to describe a servant of Christ, what traits would you mention? More importantly, what traits are commended in God’s word?
Paul gives a good answer to our question in Colossians 4:12,13. Toward the close of his letter to the church in Colossae, he mentions Epaphras, “who is one of you, a servant of Christ” (NKJV). Take note, servant-watchers: we have spotted what we came to see. What features do you observe as you look at Epaphras?
First, we note that Epaphras “greets you” (v. 12). He’s not among those so-called disciples who separate into small circles of friends, ignoring other Christians and visitors to the assembly. Rather, he seems to be constantly reaching out, attempting to share the image of Christ that dwells in him. Friendly and warm, he makes a good first impression on others.
Second, we see that Epaphras is “always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (v. 12). Here we see the servant of Christ on his knees as he prays to God, a posture he assumes often. As we listen to his prayers, we are impressed that his own needs seem to be secondary; he’s more interested in the spiritual welfare of others. Yes, he prays for others when they are physically ill, but he is far more interested to see that their souls prosper. Again, these are distinct markings, rarely seen in any other human specimen.
Third, Epaphras “has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis” (v. 13). “Zeal” is a word denoting intense interest. We might use that word to describe the enthusiasm many have for football, for music or for shopping. Epaphras’ zeal, however, is for people. This trait helps us understand why he spends so much time on his knees and why he always greets others.
The overall impression we gain from this servant of Christ is his focus on other people. Serving Christ means that one serves others. That’s clearly the lesson from Epaphras. It’s also the lesson we learn from the Lord himself: “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27,28).
The best way to learn about birds is to get outside and observe them. The best way to become a servant of the Lord is to see them in action in God’s word, then imitate what we have seen.

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Tim Hall

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