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EP 155: The Heart of a Servant: Lessons from Luke 1:38

Inside: Mary’s humble and obedient servant-like approach inspires Christian homemakers to transform their homes into nurturing spaces of faith and trust, echoing her commitment to serve according to God’s plan.

Mary's humble and obedient servant-like approach inspires Christian homemakers to transform their homes into nurturing spaces of faith and trust, echoing her commitment to serve according to God's plan.

Introduction:

Mary’s obedience and heart of a servant have a lasting effect on us. As Christian homemakers, our homes are not merely spaces filled with chores; they are sanctuaries where faith is nurtured, trust is built, and God’s plan unfolds. May Mary’s example inspire us to embrace our roles with humility, trust, and obedience, transforming our homes into beacons of God’s love and grace. Just as Mary declared, “I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word,” may we echo those words in our daily lives as we serve the Lord in our homes and beyond.

We should desire to create homes where we don’t just profess to know Christ, but our faith is truly lived out. Click to Tweet

Listen in to EP 155: The Heart of a Servant: Lessons from Luke 1:38:


Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:

Support Thankful Homemaker

2023 Christ-Focused Christmas Gift Guide for the Whole Family

Christmas Posts & Podcasts at the Blog

10 Lessons from the Life of Mary

Luke (Reformed Expository Commentary) by Philip Graham Ryken


Comparisons: John the Baptist and Jesus in the Gospel of Luke:

We recognize Mary as the mother of Jesus, notable for her humility, submissiveness, and obedience as a servant of the Lord.

We first encounter Mary in the book of Luke, specifically in Luke 1:26. We know that John the Baptist came before Mary, and he is the forerunner, the messenger sent ahead to announce the arrival of King Jesus.

One commentator noted how the stories of John and Jesus are presented side by side for comparison:

John and Jesus: two cousins, two pregnancies, two hymns of praise, and two births marking the beginning of two remarkable lives.

Our Pastor recently finished preaching through the book of Hebrews at church, and these two comparisons remind me of a recurring theme throughout the book of Hebrews – Jesus is better.

John is the one whom the Lord called to prepare for the arrival of God in the Flesh – Jesus, the God-man. As we observe the lives of these two men, Luke begins his narrative from the lesser to the greater – John, as stated in Luke 1:15, is great in the sight of the Lord, but Jesus IS Great – He is superior, and all glory goes to Him.

The Humble Beginnings of Mary:

In Luke 1:26-28 we come to the angel Gabriel coming to Mary and letting her know that she is a favored one and the Lord is with her.

Mary was a young girl – they estimate possibly even 12 or 13 years old. She was not from a wealthy family but poor and uneducated, and in the lovely town of Nazareth – where Nathaniel stated in John 1:46: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Well, obviously, really good things came out of Nazareth.

Kent Hughes referred to Mary as:

“a nobody in a nothing town in the middle of nowhere.”

Sweet Mary, living her ordinary, mundane life, going about her day as usual, and in a moment, everything in her life was turned upside down. She was chosen by the Lord to be the mother of Jesus – her position of being a lowly, humble servant was part of God’s plan too.

Martin Luther stated that God might well “have gone to Jerusalem and picked out Caiaphas’s daughter, who was fair, rich, clad in gold-embroidered raiment, and attended by a retinue of maids in waiting. But God preferred a lowly maid from a mean town.”

James 4:6 reminds us – “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (ESV)

Luke 1:28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

The word here, the angel used for the word “favored,” is from the Greek word Charis and it means unmerited favor. It is saying there was nothing in Mary that merited this favor. Mary, just like you and me was a sinner in need of a Savior.

Mary needed God’s grace just as we do. Mary was shown favor because God chose to show her favor, not because she deserved it. Mary was the mother of the Messiah, and it was a great honor, and we need to acknowledge this.

Martin Luther Paraphrased Gabriel’s greeting:

“O Mary, you are blessed. You have a gracious God. No woman has ever lived on earth to whom God has shown such grace.”

Mary is not a source of grace as some might falsely teach. The Bible never teaches she was without sin. She has no grace to give others, “favored one” refers to the grace that Mary was given by God.

Mary’s Faith and the Miracle of the Virgin Birth:

Mary was a humble sinner who received grace from God. If we are in Christ, we have come before the Lord, acknowledging that we, too are sinners in need of God’s grace. Mary was human and a sinner just like us, and she too, acknowledged her need for salvation. In Luke 1:46-47 she states: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

The angel told Mary that she was going to conceive a son whom she should call Jesus. He would be great and called the Son of the Most High. He would be the Savior and the Son of God. This is written so we believe, that we would come to know Him as our Savior and King and worship Him.

Mary didn’t doubt what the angel had just told her but asked in faith because she understood how this works. So she asked the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” A very valid question for a young unmarried girl betrothed to a man and a girl who has maintained her purity waiting until marriage.

The angel told her how this would be: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

The virgin birth of Jesus is so important and one of the greatest miracles our Lord has ever performed. How can a woman become pregnant without sexual relations? I simply bring us to Luke 1:37 – “Nothing will be impossible with God,” and I ask you – do you believe?

As one commentator stated, “If we deny the virgin birth, we deny the faith.” The virgin birth was necessary for Jesus to be fully God and fully man and without sin. God sent Jesus into the world to be the perfect Son of God, born without sin. The virgin birth of Jesus and His divine conception by the Spirit were necessary for His incarnation.

The word incarnation means “the act of being made flesh.” It comes from the Latin version of John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Our Need of the Gospel:

In His great love, God became human in the form of Jesus. He lived a flawless life, died on the cross, and fulfilled the law himself, bearing the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn to and trust in Him.

Have you repented for your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Not in your deeds, not in Mary, God’s Word makes it clear that there is only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

When you repent of your sins and trust solely in Jesus Christ for salvation, you are reborn into a new life, an eternal life with God. God never guarantees an easy life for believers, but He does promise to never abandon us once we are in Christ, and to make all things work for the good of those who love Him.

Mary’s Submission and Faith:

Our dear Mary did not have an easy road ahead of her. Unmarried and pregnant, she didn’t have a very believable explanation to tell Joseph and her family about her pregnancy. She honestly didn’t even have a full grasp of how it would all happen or unfold, but Mary believed, trusted, and submitted to the Lord’s plan for her – she was an example of an obedient, trusting servant.

I don’t know what was going through her mind at that moment, but her simple and trusting response in Luke 1:38 is where we are going to focus today. Her response says quite a bit about how she trusted God, obeyed Him, and didn’t even try to escape from this situation in any way.

Luke 1:38 states:

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The Heart of a Servant:

In Mary’s gentle and straightforward response to the angel, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord,” a profound truth unfolds. This truth holds timeless relevance at the heart of our own Christian walk with the Lord. Mary’s declaration reveals a heart willingly serving the Lord, and it should prompt us to reflect on our own hearts toward serving others where the Lord has placed us – in our homes, churches, neighborhoods, and places of employment.

Even in our role as Christian homemakers, we are to do more than just complete tasks. Our calling, now being in Christ, is sacred. As we serve others, it is a holy act to our families and others but ultimately to the Lord. We don’t always see it this way, but we need to.

Serving others is a holy act, benefiting not only our families and others but ultimately, we are serving the Lord.

Embrace Humility:

Mary’s humility is also evident in her response. At that moment, she didn’t assert her own desires or plans, but she yielded herself to God’s higher purpose. When the Lord allows or brings various obstacles, trials, and challenging circumstances into our days, are we willing to yield to Him without a question or complaint?

How do we, as homemakers, approach our tasks with a humble spirit? How do we recognize that every aspect of our service to the Lord contributes to a greater narrative of God’s plan for our homes? Do we view our work as sacred?

I first heard it from Paul Washer years ago – I’m not sure if it originated from him, but I’ve repeated this statement on the podcast and blog many times – that once we are in Christ, there is no separation between the secular and sacred – all is sacred.

I’m asking these questions to myself because I don’t always respond with the heart of Mary, but I can sadly be found too many times questioning and bucking against what the Lord has called me to. I say so often I may not do it outwardly, but I’m doing it inwardly, and inward thoughts that aren’t honoring the Lord are still sin, and my thinking needs to be brought into submission to the Lord.

I need to repent and turn from wrong thinking, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, and submit with a right heart to His plans for my day or for that moment or that task or circumstance or whatever it may be.

I know His plans are good and He is always working out things for my good and His glory but I am a forgetful, selfish sinner who needs much grace and the loving discipline of a Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone – and our good God is merciful and kind enough to bring me back to that narrow road when I start to wander a bit.

Transforming Mundane Tasks into Acts of Worship:

The seemingly mundane tasks of homemaking—folding laundry, preparing meals, and maintaining our homes—take on new significance when approached with a servant’s heart. Mary’s example challenges us to see these everyday activities as opportunities for worship.

Folding laundry, preparing meals, and maintaining the home may appear ordinary, but when viewed through the lens of Mary’s example, they take on new and profound significance.

Just as Mary was a servant of the Lord, we are too, and this needs to permeate every aspect of our everyday lives. When we approach homemaking with a servant’s heart, the perspective shifts from mere chores to acts of service. Folding laundry becomes an opportunity to care for the needs of our loved ones, preparing meals transforms into a gesture of nourishing those we love, and maintaining the home becomes an expression of love and hospitality.

Mary submitted her life in that moment to God’s will, not knowing what the future held, but she did know Who held the future. Click to Tweet

Mary’s example challenges us to redefine our understanding of worship. It extends beyond the walls of a church. Worship becomes a continuous, lived experience embedded in the rhythm of our daily activities. The simple acts of homemaking, when undertaken with intentionality, become opportunities for worship. Each fold of a towel, each stir of a pot, and each sweep of a broom can and should be done as an act of worship to the Lord.

Intentional Presence in Everyday Moments:

The Lord is sanctifying us as we go about our daily tasks. There is a purpose in our homemaking. We sometimes forget that even our routine chores can be blessings in our lives. We can be mindful to give thanks to the Lord for His blessings as we fold laundry – even what might seem like a simple thought – but those clothes we’re folding are clean, and they provide warmth and comfort. There is much right there to give thanks to the Lord for.

Praying for others as we clean their rooms, wash their clothes, and prepare their food refocuses our minds that we are doing more than just mundane chores; we are loving others that the Lord has placed in our lives and caring for them in practical ways.

Mary is an example of how the heart of a servant responds, and it is an echo of the attitude of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28).

As Christian homemakers, I’m writing this in the busy season of Christmas, when our schedules may be full, there are a lot of extra tasks on our to-do lists, and we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and maybe even short with others at times.

But I want to remind us all – myself included here – that our homemaking is to follow the example of Jesus. Ponder – not just this Christmas season – but in all seasons of our lives, how can we model selfless service in our homes with the heart and attitude and example of the humility of Christ?

Jesus has not left us on our own – if we are in Christ, we have the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit at work in us is to change us more and more into the image of Christ – making us moment by moment more like Jesus.

Mary’s obedience and heart of a servant is one that we can take as an example to transform the routines of the day into ones that reflect the love and humility of the One we serve. Our homes can be sanctuaries where God’s word isn’t just spoken, but it is lived out. We should desire to create homes where we don’t just profess to know Christ, but our faith is truly lived out.

Mary’s life from that moment of saying “yes, Lord” was going to involve much pain. She would lose her reputation, possibly lose the man she was about to marry, she faced the probability of being stoned for adultery, the pain ahead of her of childbirth, the hard journey to Bethlehem, and then watching her son die a cruel death on a cross.

Mary submitted her life in that moment to God’s will, not knowing what the future held, but she did know Who held the future.

Mary believed with a full and trusting heart in the Lord. This truly is what we are all to do as believers. Fully trust the Lord and be obedient to His Word. Being in Christ, we, too, like Mary, are servants of the Lord.

“This is what it means to be a Christian. Indeed, we might even say that Mary was the first Christian, for a Christian is simply a person who believes in Jesus and says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” This means trusting God for our relationships—romantic and otherwise—not trying to make them go the way we want them to go, but letting God lead. It means trusting God in our daily work, allowing him to see to our success. It means trusting God for ministry, being content with whatever blessing he brings, or doesn’t bring, as long as we are faithful. It means trusting God for our families, asking him to carry our burden for the people we love. It means trusting God with our troubles—the impossible things we have to face. And it means trusting God when we suffer reproach, as Mary did. If we follow God, then people will be as opposed to us as they are to him, but by faith we will continue to follow him. Are you willing to be God’s servant? Then surrender to his will and submit to his word. Give up control, putting things into his hands rather than bending them to your own purpose. Live for God no matter what other people think. And do this even if it means suffering for the cause of Christ. By the grace of God, through faith in Christ and by the work of his Holy Spirit, we are able to say what Mary said: ‘Have it your way, Lord, not mine—I am ready to do your will.’ Mary’s obedience has a lasting effect on us.”

Philip Graham Ryken, Luke Reformed Expository Commentary

May we, too, echo the words of Mary, “I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

As Christian homemakers, our homes are not just spaces filled with chores; they are sanctuaries where faith is nurtured, trust is built, and God’s plan unfolds. May Mary’s example inspire us to embrace our roles with humility, trust, and obedience, transforming our homes into beacons of God’s love and grace.

Jesus truly is always enough.

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