A Servant’s Heart


Christmas, for me, is filled with great memories, great traditions, and genuine spiritual significance. But sometimes Christmas – the REAL Christmas – gets lost in everything that surrounds the holiday. For us to discover all the great truths about Christmas we have to do some ‘unwrapping’ of the holiday. Have you ever had something that was wrapped up…and in the wrapping you assumed it was one thing, but after it was unwrapped you saw it for what it really was…

• …sometimes it was a disappointment (Jelly of the month club)

• …sometimes it was SO MUCH BETTER than you could have imagined

For some of us Christmas is so beautifully wrapped up in our memories and expectations that we never open it. We don’t want to disturb the beauty of the wrapping and so we miss the truth of the gift that God sent on that first Christmas Day.

I want to ‘unwrap’ one of the most amazing gifts of Christmas. You may be familiar with the story…you may know how it starts and how it ends… we have the blessing of hindsight. But for those living it…this was new, this was startling… this was unexpected… being chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Many knew the OT prophecies, they knew the stories of God’s plan for redemption, but they didn’t expect to find themselves as central characters in that story. For Mary and Joseph… this whole thing was unexpected!

And let’s be honest, most of us don’t do well with the unexpected. We don’t like change- we like everything to be the same. We like our traditions around Christmas because of the consistency. The same carols sung every year… The same tree put up in the same spot with the same decorations year after year… It’s all predictable. It’s expected. And because it is expected and predictable it is comfortable…

Ladies, imagine if Mary were a teen girl today who received this news. Imagine you were her mother… how do you deal with that. Imagine YOU were that teen girl… How would you handle this unexpected news? And Guys, what if you were her dad or her fiancé? How would YOU handle this unexpected situation?

We’ve heard it said that “God works in mysterious ways.” God’s ways of writing His story and ours are often way different than anything we could have imagined. Mary was called by God into something unexpected… in fact everything about Mary’s encounter with the angel and the call of God upon her life was unexpected. There was the visit itself was unexpected. The greeting from the angel that she was highly favored was unexpected. And certainly, the message was past unexpected- to be the mother of the Messiah! No way!!! Yet that is the message to Mary. It is difficult to imagine what Mary must have thought… To be a righteous young woman, one who was choosing to honor her fiancé and her God with her body and then to be told that she would have a child. This was over the top unexpected…

God interrupted Mary’s life in a very unexpected way… and Mary was left to respond to the unexpected… she chose to respond in faith and trust! When God calls us to the unexpected we can respond with fear and doubt or we can trust and obey.

Mary had the true heart of a servant. We see her servant heart in how she responds to the angel’s words. First, a servant is a person who meets the needs of others. A servant is an individual who puts themselves under submission to another. A servant is different from a slave in that a servant’s loyalty to one’s master is voluntary, but a slave’s is not. Every slave is a servant, but not every servant is a slave. Mary was willing to submit to God’s call on her life- even if she didn’t understand it or how it would work out.

As Christ followers we are called first to submit to God, then to one another. We are called to become a servant and give of ourselves to others. A true servant seeks to serve their master. As followers of Christ, we too are called to be His servants and put Him and His will ahead of our own. And as His servants we also serve the people God puts in our path.

When God calls us to the unexpected, we can respond with fear and doubt, or we can trust and obey.

So, the question is… how will YOU respond? Will you have a servant’s heart-because it’s not a matter of if God will call you to the unexpected, it’s a matter of when He’ll call…


1 Use Jesus as your model: Jesus was the greatest servant of all. Jesus came to earth as a servant with a commitment to serve. Philippians 2:6-7

2 If you want to be great, you must be least. When we watch the example that Jesus was for his disciples and for us, He has really given us two choices: We can choose to serve ourselves, OR We can choose to serve others.

3 You show your love for God by loving others. Jesus told his disciples, and us, that if we love him, we will keep His commandments. Our obedience is an outward demonstration of our love for God. John 15:12-13

4 Consider Others Before Yourself. Make it a priority to serve God and others. Philippians 2:3-4

5 Use your gifts to serve. God has given each of us certain gifts and talents that we are to use for serving others, 1 Peter 4:10

When God interrupts your life with the unexpected, will you say with Mary, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”

How will you respond to God’s call…