In 2009 ABC premiered a new reality TV series, Shark Tank. It highlights entrepreneurs making business presentations to a panel of investors or “sharks” who decide whether to invest in their company. Now in it’s 13thseason, the show highlights the good and bad of capitalism. The good is that it shows what can happen to a small quality company with the right investor. The bad shows the mean competition when people selfishly fight for what they want regardless of who it hurts.

Life can be like a shark tank, where everyone wants a piece of us and try to tell us how to live and what to do. We don’t know if they are our friend or if they have an ulterior motive for the help they are giving us. When everyone is out for themselves, the end result can’t be good.

Jesus was invited to a dinner in Luke 14 and had several conversations. The first conversation was started when he helped a sick man on the Sabbath. Immediately, He was thrown into the shark tank and had to defend His actions. Though He was criticized, Jesus humbly served others and taught His followers to humbly serve others.

How can we humbly serve others?

1 – Care for the needy. Do not ignore the needy. (Luke 14:1-5)

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; (Luke 14:3-4)

In the gospel story there are 7 incidents in which Jesus healed on the Sabbath day. It seems quite suspicious that in Luke 14 a man suffering from dropsy happened to be there in front of Jesus at a meal with a group of religious leaders who were carefully watching him. It seems like he was placed on purpose to trap Jesus. Dropsy was another name for edema, in which the body abnormally retains fluids, causing swelling. Jesus’s rhetorical question (Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?) indicates that it is good to do good for other people. Though sometimes matters of right and wrong can get very complicated, it’s good to ask the question – What does love require? Love will always respect God’s rules and serve people’s needs. We humbly serve others by caring for the needy.

Clara Barton was a clerk at the US Patent Office in Washington DC. Curing the Civil War she collected bandages and medical supplies and sent them to Union soldiers. Then she did what few women even considered – she became a nurse on the battlefield. She risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field. She was nicknamed, “The Angel of the Battlefield.” In 1881, at the age of 59, she founded the American Red Cross and led it for the next 23 years. She cared for the needy.

Sometimes this might put us in dangerous situations? Most of the time, this is not an issue. However, if you feel helping needy people is not safe, you can help in a group or help a group who is helping the needy. The issue is usually one of motive, rather than action. If you want to help the needy, you will find a way.

Try this: Make a list of ways you can help needy people, then choose one to do this week.

2 – Put others first. Do not seek for honor. (Luke 14:6-11)

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 14:11)

In Jesus’ culture, the seats closest to the host were the best seats. Guests tried to secure them to be recognized. Jesus taught that we should not try to get he best seats, but put others first. Honor cannot be taken – it must be given. God will not honor those who try to honor themselves. Humility has always been one of the characteristics of great men. The way to rise high is to begin low. Put others first.

Years ago on Candid Camera some children were placed by themselves in a room with a plate with two cookies – one big and one small. They were told to take one of the cookies and Alan Funt would return to get the other cookie. Each child took the big cookie. One boy was challenged by Funt, “All you left me to eat was the little cookie. I would have eaten the little cookie and given you the biggest cookie.” Without blinking the boy responded, “Then you got the one you wanted”

If we put others first, we might always be last. We never get what we want. You might think this, but even if you are last there are some advantages. The last in line gets to take their time and enjoy the journey, you can clearly see everyone in front of you, and you get as much as you want without worrying about who is behind you.

Try this: Let someone go in front of you at the grocery, or through a door, or in a conversation.

3 – Do good for nothing in return. Do not expect to be repaid. (Luke 14:12-14)

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; (Luke 14:13-14a)

Jesus teaches that many people invite guests to dinner for one of two reasons: (1) to pay them back because they had been invited, (2) invite them so they will invite you. Jesus encourages His followers to not habitually invite only those who can invite you in return. But invite those who cannot return the favor. Our motive to do anything should not be what we get out of it – but to honor God and be a blessing to others. Do good for nothing in return.

A man wanders into a small antique shop and notices a pricless bowl from the Ming dynasty. The owner clearly has no idea of its worth because it’s filled with milk and the cat’s drinking out of it. So he asks the owner, “How much do you want for your cat?” “The cat’s not for sale. She keeps the store free of mice.” “I really must have your cat. How about $100?” “If you want it that bad, you can have it.” “I need something to feed her from as well. How about you thrown in the saucer for $10?” “No, I couldn’t do that. It’s actually an ancient Chinese relic from the Ming dynasty. It’s my prized possession. Funny thing, since we’ve had it, I’ve sold 17 cats.

But you might argue that If you keep giving, you will have nothing left. Jesus promised that if we give, He will give to us. In fact, He will give us more than we give. Rather than losing what we have, we will gain more by giving than by saving.

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. (Luke 6:38)

Try this: This week, set aside $20 to give someone who needs it. Whoever God impresses on your heart, give them the $20 and tell them why and how you did what you did. You will be amazed at the result.

To be a humble servant: (1) Care for the needy, (2) Put others first, (3) Do good for nothing in return.

What can we do?

  • Don’t let your own rules keep you from helping people in need.
  • Care more for other’s needs than your own desires and reputation.
  • Learn humility as a style of life.

The story is told of a man who was dressed in civilian clothes and rode past a group of soldiers repairing a defensive barrier. The leader was shouting instructions, but made no attempt to help. When the rider asked why, he said, “I am a corporal” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and helped the exhausted soldiers. When the job was done, the stranger turned to the corporal, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” The man was none other than George Washington.

The only time we should look down on others is when we are bending over to help them.