Conduct of a Servant
We would like to discuss the proper conduct and characteristics of a servant. St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is an excellent Epistle on characteristics of a servant that all servants should read. Here we want to focus on several verses. These are “But be ware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). “Therefore, if food makes my brother s tumble, I will never again eat me at, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13). “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
1. In these verses, St. Paul talks about the notion that we might have the knowledge between right and wrong (1 Corinthians 8:1), and know the difference between sin and no sin, we can behave in such a way that we do not sin, and yet make our fellow man stumble.
2. This tells us that things that make other people stumble are not necessarily only sinful things. We can be behaving in a non-sinful way and yet make our brother stumble, and such behavior may even encourage our brother to s in (1 Corinthians 8:11).
3. St. Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1). This means that we should focus on being an example to others by our love, not our knowledge. Knowledge can make us conceited and over-confident and as a result, we can become a stumbling block to others due to our over-confidence in knowing what is sinful and what is not.
Here are some concrete examples that we should be aware of so that we do not make others stumble:
• Clothing – Servants are expected to wear proper clothing. It should not be too tight or revealing in the front or the back. It should be modest in fashion. We should have proper footwear, make -up, jewelry, and hair style s (1 Corinthians 11:3- 15, 1Timothy 2:9).
• Alcohol – We should never drink alcohol at any time, nor should we have alcohol at home and serve it to anyone. We must never go to nightclubs or bars. Alcohol is a great stumbling block for the kids (1 Corinthians 10:7, 1Timothy 3:8).
• Weddings – Weddings are where we can be a great stumbling block. Matrimony is a Sacrament, but we have turned this Sacrament upside down by our behavior in church during the ceremony and at the wedding reception which follows.
– We should not make loud noise s, cheers, laugh, or make inappropriate gestures during the wedding ceremony. This is great disrespect to this Sacrament.
– We must be properly dressed at all weddings. Servants are expected to wear proper clothing. It should not be too tight or revealing in the front or the back. It should be modest in fashion. We should have proper footwear, make -up, jewelry, and hair style s (1 Corinthians 11:3- 15, 1 Timothy 2:9).
– We must behave appropriately at the wedding reception. Servants should not dance, drink alcohol, make loud noises, play musical instruments, etc … They should be seated quietly in their seats socializing with others in a calm and decent way with good self- control, self-respect and dignity (1 Corinthians 10:7, Galatians 5:22, Titus 2:6-8).
• Fasting – We must observe and respect all church fasts. We must fast and encourage others to fast. It is inappropriate to make non-fasting food available to others or to encourage others to eat non- fasting food during fasting periods (Matthew 4:2).
• Come Early to Church – We must make every effort to come early to church for liturgies and services (Mark 1:35).
• The Tongue – We must be soft- spoken, not yell or talk with a loud voice, even in fun. Servants should learn to speak in a reasonable and loving tone at all times. We must not use improper or harsh language, be argumentative with others, or be openly critical of others and belittling others (1Timothy 6:3- 5). We should try and discuss problems with others privately in a constructive manner. Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:36-37 that we must answer for every idle word we have spoken. He says, “I tell you on the day of judgment, men will render account for every care less word they utter. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36- 37). Also see James 3:1-18.
• Television – We must not watch shows of immoral or sexual content, shows that have violence and use inappropriate language (2 Timothy 2:22).
• Bad Company – We should not maintain company and fellowship with those who are unbelievers, those against God and Christianity, and those against the Church. St. Paul says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14)?
• Humility – Humility is the basis and rock of service. A humble servant is an obedient servant who loves God and his fellow man, respects and honors the role and responsibility of a servant without questions or quarrels (2 Timothy 2:24- 26). St. Paul says, “Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Romans 12:16).