Leaning what it means to be a “Love Servant” for Christ!
….so did John in Revelation 1:1!
This will be the shortest passage I will ever preach on, a whole sermon, actually part two on one word, doulos…
First of all, I am surprised you have me speak on this again??? I am not sure how I should feel about this….but since you want more I am giving you more… Keep in mind I am not relishing this, this has been a very humbling exercise and experience for me. One key word has wreck havoc on my understating on who Jesus is and who I am in Him. It has wrung me dry in my devotions and growth. I think for the better… and for my many conversation this has caused quite a stir here with you all too.
First off clarifications. I did not mean to impute motives to the translators of our modern translation or those of old. Keep in mind; these are translations of a foreign word that is over 2,000 years old to the modern vernacular. After a little more digging on why they did that, basically to sidestep much of the baggage of what slavery means to our African American community, and that few people know the “love servant” theme in Deuteronomy 15…and the title in the bulletin to place you all at ease? Or maybe not….
Good news, Tyndale is working on a new totally upgrade to the LB, and will be more of a transition, not a paraphrase, and in Rom I:I and Rev. 1:1 “salve” will be used for doulos…this may take a couple years before it sees the light of day. But I have the privilege to do some of the exegetical work and I am very pleased on the quality of the people behind it and the commitment to bring God’s Word to Light in the best means possible…. Of course they will probably call it the “New Living Bible”…you know the same mentality, people from York crossed an ocean of great expanse and expense and colonized a new world and can’t come up with a new name…. New York? If you think about it, it is quite funny…. Anyway…..
The theme of “doulos”is submission, a far cry from the American ideals of personal freedom, liberation, and choice. Rather this is an act of mutual love~ However, consider this; submission is not the tyrannical concept most of us harbor in our minds. Rather, it is freedom! It is a form of the offering we are to God with our respect. It allows us to be free, and to have the best flowing in and out of us. It is a safe harbor of smooth waters keeping us protected from the storms of wrong actions and bad choices, what the other master, the Devil offers us. Slavery in Christ frees us from bad thinking that leads to bad choices which, in turn, leads to a life of misery and trouble!
A love servant in Deuteronomy 15 means, a devoted slave says to their master to pierce their earlobe with an “awl” against the doorframe of the house. i.e. a big ear piercing, to symbolize a very clear message that echoes what should be in our heart to our Saving LORD, “I love you, I need you, and I will not leave You.” This is a declaration as a servant in your house, I will remain loyal and trust you will trust me thus, so I am not going to leave you for another master…
This act permanently bonded this slave to this house as in family and to this master. And this slave could never be released and go free again. Nor could the master ever sell them, so this act had mutual effects and consequences and responsibilities. Thus this slave became more than a servant, they became more of a family member who was permanently attached to this family…bondservant. These servant were like Joseph and Potapher, trusted with more of their master’s dealings than a normal slave or servant would have.
Thus as a slave for Christ we can use this as an expression of faith and a conviction to grow deeper in our spiritual formation. “I love you, Lord, and I will never leave or forsake You.”
Servant means a slave, the fact that as a committed follower of Christ, I must attest that I belong completely and entirely to Christ. He purchased, restored, and renewed me and He empowers me. As a “doulos” I can now understand my relationship and position in Christ. I can realize I am dependent upon and grateful to Christ as LORD. He is my only true Truth and rule, for in the here and now and into all of eternity.
And again, this is good, there is no better safer more pleasing to God and better for me than here as His slave. We have to get the horrific image of Africans chained on a salve boat and then being sold on a stage show out of your mind and place in your mind’s eye the faithful love servant or in our case our love for Christ and He as the Master, our loving Shepherd in His great pasture showing you the way. Being a slave to Christ is not about degradation or subjection; rather it is our liberation. Thus, I can and will trust and obey Him and follow His precepts! So the question now is how are you going to live and express it? How will this help you lead and manage your self, family and church (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19)?
So, are you “souled” out to Christ? Do you realize that your life is His? The will you are to seek is His? Every breath you take, every step you take is marked by His love for you! Are you now, absolutely sold to Him as His slave? Able to know Him more and do His will with gratefulness and glee? I can do as He calls, not be embarrassed or fell I must usurp my ways as His Way? I can go as He leads to where He directs and I can trust He will not lead or call me where He will not take care of me. Being a slave in Christ means I can trust and obey Him and do this well! So are you hopefully devoted to Christ? Can you see how many 70’s love songs I snagged for this sentence? A slave is devoted to Christ, as a Christian this must be the direction of our walk and the must be practice of our leadership for Him!
Can we be a slave today?
Paul did it, he was an extreme example of multiplying networks and energizing and influencing people for the Lord. He left his cozy great position as a Pharisee that he worked so hard for so long to obtain and gave it all up to serve Christ. In so doing, he even had great zeal. By his example, by our Lord’s command our faith can be and must be of great value to Him. Christianity is not to be a spectator sport; it must be engaged with our best means for God’s glory for all things in our lives, school, work, family, ministry, and relating to strangers. It must all glorify our Lord!
Being excited about who you are in Christ is an essential aspect of attracting people and motivating them for and in service and leadership for Christ. We can see the call and the example in the Bible. We can also say, well I am no Paul, and who is, but what he modeled and taught is for the everyman, every person for you and for I. Consider that new Christians bring in most of the new converts because they are excited and are energized. Even though new Christians may be ignorant on matters of theological understanding and apologetically, they are bringing people in versus people who have been Christians for many years but tend to lose their excitement and, thus, may rarely bring people into the church. As a slave for Christ, this is our excitement our mission!
Paul, Peter, John and James as well as many other Bible characters taught and modeled being a slave for Jesus and this is for our benefit, protection and growth and for us to remember who we are, Who Jesus is and be humble. We glorify God with our humility when we endure with our faith and character—no matter what we might face or have experienced. This shows our right relationship to God, our right summation of ourselves. The chief purpose for Christians, above all else, is to glorify God (Luke 22:42; John 17:22; Eph. 4:1-16).
We are Salves to the Good Shepherd
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12
Christ the Shepherd provides for us an image of leading and protecting. Jesus comes as the Good Shepherd to rescue His lost sheep. We have gone astray and have given in to sin; He brings us back to His fold. We will pursue this as a contrast in an upcoming article or see our Bible study in John 10 (Psalm 23:1; Isa. 53:6; Jer. 50:6; Ezek. 34:5; Matt. 14: 13-21; John 10:11; Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:20; James 5: 19-20). This is also a name for Jesus (Psalm 23, 79:13, 95:7, 80:1, 100:3; Gen. 49:24; Isa. 40:11).
Christ has made us right with God. So, how do we live that faith? How do we show our gratitude and response? We can only begin to fathom all the precious privileges and wondrous blessings given to us by Christ. We have the responsibility to act upon them, and for the growth of our faith, character, and maturity. Do we fully understand that we have been rescued from sin and darkness and from hopeless despair? Has that hit home? Are you filled with gratitude because of what Christ has done? To venture further in the faith beyond our saving faith, we have to take heed and be encouraged that God is our rescuer! Therefore, we are to respond in gratitude for His provision and gifts (Col. 1: 9-14; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2)!
The bottom line of being His slave is that the principles of the Gospel must impact us so we are influenced and energized by it. If the follower is ungrateful or a Christian leader is not humble and excited, our message will drop off and fall flat. The learner and hearer will not desire something irrelevant and unexciting. If they see no good example or excitement in the leader, why would they want to be a part of it? The nature of the Christian life is the joy and excitement of being in Christ over all else, and this should be the biggest motivation so the excitement the leader receives from his growth becomes contagious to those around him; this is influence. Being in Christ means living our lives for Him with excitement in all times and all places. This is influence (Acts 2:18; 1Cor 7:22; Eph 6:6; Col 4:12; 2Ti 2:24).
Being His slave means a more content life
The event of knowing God is not a one-time event; it is a continual relationship, where we constantly rely on Him with conviction and compliance. He is the Hope we have; He gives us grace and peace. Our place and security is in Heaven to come and our joy can then be declared and lived out. Paul affirms that yes, as His slave, Christ is sufficient for faith and salvation; nothing else is or could be. Yes, we do have hope beyond hope. If our place is secured in eternity—and it is; if we have a Savior in Whom we can have faith and trust—and we do, then we can lead a life of endurance no matter what is thrown at us. These are things we cannot accomplish by our own means; we need Jesus. He needs to be placed first! Thus, Paul urges them and us to put Christ first, and to move on to spiritual maturity. From this perspective, we know His Truth so we can still be triumphant in Him in the time we have here on earth (Phil 1:6, 27; 2:12-13).
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
True spiritual wisdom is the growth of our faith and the thinking and application of what Jesus has taught. The will of God is about learning about Him, following His decrees, and building fruit and character. After that, one can make good decisions and weed out false teachings and bad decisions and poor leadership. Seeking to place Jesus first and foremost so to follow only Him, and thus love, trust, and obey Christ is a mindset and lifestyle (Matt. 6:33; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:17; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:18; 1 Tim. 2:4; 1 Pet. 2:13-15; 4:19).
A love servant which means, a devoted slave, a mature Christ is devoted to Christ so we come to the place “I love you, Lord, and I never, ever will want to leave You or be disloyal to you!” Also keep in mind our Lord calls us His sons and His Children of love….just take a quick red in 1 John…. And be amazed…and yes we all can be the love slave to Christ (Luke 17:7-10; Rom. 121-11)!
Need one more thought to cement this in? The opposite theme of “servant” and “slave” is Biblically, “selfishness.” A servant says, “How can I please you?” Selfish person says, “What can you do to please me?” …What is the chief aim of our existence and first rue of our catechism?….glorify God, we can do that when we are selfish…
Who are we not to say that, I am a salve of Jesus?
Be blessed!!!… and remember being Christ slave puts us in His pure perfect will and the best care so we are His love servant in His family…in good hands of love!
Benediction, Jesus asks us to be His servant for life. So let us do this, let’s start by committing to be His servant today!
As His Slave we can serve well!
© 1991 Rev. R.J. Krejcir