Now I was cupbearer to the king.
In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. Nehemiah 1:11b-2:8 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-8 ESV
Jane Addams was born to a life of privilege. Her father was a wealthy man, and a friend to President Abraham Lincoln. Jane was able to get a very good education and to travel to Europe as a young woman. But she didn’t continue to live her life of privilege. Instead, she decided to live and work in the city of Chicago among the people who were very poor. She wanted to help them to have a better life, so she and a friend opened a settlement house called Hull House. This house offered services to the poor and the immigrants such as child care, education, a public kitchen, and an art gallery. Ms. Adams also did work in the field of education and in many other things. She gave up what might have been a comfortable life to live in service of other people.
Nehemiah also was living a life of privilege. He was the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, which was a very important and powerful position. But Nehemiah had a bold request to make of the king after he heard about the sad state of Jerusalem and his fellow Jews who were living there. He wanted to leave his important position to go and help the people of Jerusalem rebuild their city wall. He was afraid when he made the request, because the king might have become angry with him. But God blessed Nehemiah by giving him favor with King Artaxerxes, and he was allowed to go. The king even gave him permission to get wood from the king’s forest to do the building.
Jesus is God the Son, the equal of his Heavenly Father, but because he loves us he didn’t hang onto his power and glory. Instead, Jesus emptied himself to become a human being and live on earth as one of us. He even allowed himself to be put on the cross to die a shameful death so that all our sins could be forgiven and we could become God’s children. Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to help us learn to live our lives in ways that help and serve others.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your loving service to us. Help us to serve others for your sake. Amen.