Servant to All (1 Cor. 9:19)

By Kevin Kusunoki, Ministry Resident

My life verse is 1 Corinthians 9:19, “for though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” When I first came across this verse I was really just looking for something to tattoo on my arm. I had envisioned Hebrew letters linked together like chains around my arm and I just needed a verse that fit with that imagery. 1 Corinthians 9:19 was the perfect verse! The verse talks about being in chains for the good of others, how suitable a verse for my tattoo idea!

So while my motivation for getting the verse tattooed was mostly for aesthetic reasons, it quickly became a favorite of mine because it has fundamentally changed the way I live my life. I have been made free; free from sin and free from the pressures of the world. There’s a sermon by John Piper that I heard a long time ago. I will paraphrase the main points here:

When what you want to do is not what you ought to do, that is disobedience.

When what you ought to do is not what you want to do, that is legalism.


When what you want to do is what you ought to do, that is freedom.

If what you love to do is what you ought to do, you experience ultimate freedom! Jesus rescued us from living in sin and gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we would be sanctified and renewed in our thinking. As we become more and more like Christ, our greatest desires will actually be what God wants us to do, and consequently we will truly be able to live in freedom!

But here’s where the second part of the verse comes in. As we become more and more conformed to the image of God, our genuine desire is to be made less than others! Isn’t that crazy? Philippians 2:5-7 says, “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.” Jesus, being God himself, humbled himself as a servant in order to be the atoning sacrifice for all of us! In the same way, we will desire to humble ourselves for the sake of others.

This life verse has often been seen as a mandate for the Christian life, but the more I meditate on this verse, the more I realize that this verse is just descriptive of the Christian life. If we walk by the Holy Spirit, allow Him to transform us, we will not only be free to do what we love to do but also what we love to do will be humbling ourselves to serve others!

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