Are We Servants or Slaves?

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Galatians 5:13 ¶ For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Amazingly, one of the most controversial sermons that I ever preached was based on this verse; particularly the phrase that says, “through love serve one another.”  What made this message so controversial (to some) was when I asked my Christian brothers and sisters this question: “Would you rather be a servant or a slave?”  To which, virtually everyone in the audience answered that they would rather be a servant.  No one wanted to be a slave.  Therefore, when I suggested to by fellow Christian “servants” that the word “serve” in the original language of the N.T. conveys not the image of a servant but the image of a slave, many in the audience got uncomfortable; some even got a little mad.

Let me suggest that the reason being slaves to one another make us feel uncomfortable is because of the different way in which we view the status of a servants and slaves.

  • Servants work for wages.  …………….  Slaves work for free
  • Servants can chose where and for whom they work ,,,,,,,,, Slave have no freedom and are bound to their master’s service
  • Servants retain a sense of personal pride or dignity ………  slavery is considered undignified and beneath us

No one wants to be a slave; even the founders of the United States-a slave owning country at the time-recognized:

We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator

with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

The idea of becoming a slave is abhorrent to us.  However, becoming a slave was not abhorrent to Jesus, “who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave.” (see Philippians 2:6,7 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible)  Therefore, if being a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and if growing in our Christian faith means being transformed in to the image of Jesus Christ, than as Christians the image that we must bear is not the image of the self seeking, self promoting, self absorbed, and the selfish; all of which are characteristics of the old man, but not the new man that God has created in us (Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:8-9).

The image of Christ is a selfless image that loves with no strings attached, that serves without seeking the reward and the applause and the thank-yous of others (our reward is awaiting us in Heaven, and our applause will come from God when He says, “well done, you good and faithful slave”).  The image of Jesus is the image of a slave, as it is written:

Philippians 2:1-8 ¶If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death– even to death on a cross.

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Published by

E. Wohner

By God's amazing grace, I have served in the ministry for over 22 years; 17 of which were as a cross-cultural missionary in New York City, and five years as a local church pastor. Currently, I work for Prudential as a financial professional associate. The only things that I can say about myself are that I love God, I love people, I love living my faith, and I love being of service to others helping them reach their full potential.

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