Reading Reflection:

Servanthood as Worship, Nate Palmer (Cruciform Press, 2010) My favorite part of this short read was the appendix, A Brief History of Service in the Church.  I kind of wish it was the first chapter.  Anyway, I really liked what Palmer had to say about self-control: Self-control is often seen in our culture as simply the suppression of less-noble desires, something that helps us with weight loss, a bad temper, or an addiction.  In this view, self-control is essentially a negative thing: “I will not do this or that.” In the biblical view, however, self-control has two components, one positive and one negative, with the positive component actually being far more important.  Biblical self-control is far more about saying Yes to God, his commands, and his ways.  It is not fundamentally an exercise for personal power for the sake of a personal agenda.  It is fundamentally a surrender to God’s power for the sake of his agenda—a positive act of reliance on God’s strength, so we can live and serve as our Master calls us to. For the Christian, therefore, self-control involves obeying God (a positive act) so that we might get better at disobeying our sinful nature (a negative act).  If we exercise and eat right simply so we can look better, we merely change one self-desire (food and comfort) for a different self-desire (vanity).  True self-control is not about exchanging one personal desire for another, but exchanging our desires for God’s (75-76). For servanthood to be worshipful, it has to be in subjection to God.  Palmer points out how selfish desires strangle true service to others.  How often do we encourage the wrong kind of self-control?  I know this was a great reminder for me not to leave one idol for another.  Come to think of it, the first version isn’t really possible.  This is why we fail so often in our attempts for personal reform.  If we merely replace one selfish desire for another, our sin only magnifies and we are working against God’s gracious work on the cross.  The gospel truly transforms service.