Slave or Bond Servant :: By Nathele Graham

When we hear the word “slavery,” we usually think of a very ugly part of history. It was. Scripture tells us of the Hebrew slavery in Egypt and the brutality of it. There had been a drought; and in order to survive, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to ask for food. Unbeknownst to them, the person they asked was their brother Joseph whom they had sold into slavery many years before. What man means for evil, God uses for good.

Through the years, Joseph had risen from a slave to the second highest official in Egypt. This position made it possible for him to provide food for his father and brothers, and also made the way for the family to move to Egypt. All was well for many years; but after a while, the descendants of Jacob became slaves to the Egyptians. This was the ugly type of slavery, and the Hebrews suffered greatly.

In due time, God called Moses to approach Pharaoh and ask him to set the Hebrews free. Eventually Pharaoh granted them their freedom. They began the journey to the land that God had promised them; and when they came to Mt. Sinai, God gave the Law to Moses. This Law included guidelines for slavery. You may think it odd that they had just left a nation in which they were slaves, and now God talks of slavery again. The difference between secular slavery and what the Law required is the grace and mercy of God.

Unlike other forms of slavery, God put a time limit upon the servitude. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing (Exodus 21:2).

This meant that slavery wasn’t for a lifetime and it wasn’t generational. The reasons for becoming a servant, or a slave, were varied; but the slave was protected under the Law. If a man ran into hard times and had no money, he was to be a hired servant until the year of jubilee when he would be set free and be able to return to his own home (Leviticus 25:39-41). If a man was caught stealing and couldn’t make restitution, he was to be sold to work off his debt (Exodus 22:3-4).

These laws were established for protection of individuals and in order that debts could be paid. This cannot be confused with or compared to the slavery found outside of the Jewish nation. The “slavery” under the Law was governed by rules set by God. The duration of the servitude had a specific duration and would not be a lifetime requirement.

Servitude wasn’t only for men. And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do (Exodus 21:7).

This wasn’t an unsavory act by her father, but one of protection. Men were to provide for their wife and family, and women were to care for their husband and children. The hope of the father was that while in service she would marry either the master or his son. This was actually a type of betrothal; but if the master chose not to take her as his wife, she was still protected. She might also marry a man who was a slave, but that didn’t negate her servitude. Unlike a man’s servitude, she was not free after a certain period of time unless the master failed in his protection of her. We can’t understand what a blessing this law was, because today most women have jobs and leave marriage and family as a low priority.

Women aren’t inferior to men, but God has a special purpose for both men and women. When that purpose is blurred, society becomes a disaster. Following God’s ways are always best, and we can see that secular ways have a way of bringing down a nation.

When a man had served his time and paid his debt, he would be free to leave but could only take away what he had brought with him. If during his time of service he had married a woman who was also in service to the master, the wife would not be able to leave. This would have been a difficult problem for the man. God made provision for this. The man could choose to remain a servant.

And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges; and he shall also bring him to the door or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever (Exodus 21:5-60.

This was a voluntary choice by the servant and changed his status from a hired servant to a bond servant. We can be sure that slavery under God’s Law is nothing like what the Hebrews endured in Egypt or any modern form of slavery. The most perfect example of voluntary servitude is seen in Jesus Christ. Paul says that even though Jesus Christ was God He chose to become a servant to purchase our redemption.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).

When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for salvation, it’s a voluntary choice, and we need to become a bond servant to Him. Just as the voluntary slavery in Old Testament days lasted a lifetime, so our voluntary slavery to Christ is eternal. Our mindset regarding our service to our Master should be the same as His mindset about humbling Himself and being obedient.

The men who penned the letters in the New Testament understood what it meant to be a bond servant, and they often referred to themselves as such. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (Romans 1:1).

The word translated “servant” is from the Greek word “duolos” which means a slave or bondman, but is also used as a metaphor for a person who gives himself to be used by Christ. James also used this description. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting (James 1:1).

This is also the word Peter used to describe his service to Jesus. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1).

Even Jude, who most scholars agree was the half-brother of Jesus and wasn’t proud of that fact before the cross, eventually saw himself as a servant of Christ. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called (Jude 1:1).

These men were Jewish and understood what it meant to voluntarily become a bond servant, a duolos, to Jesus. It meant giving Him their loyalty. It meant becoming living sacrifices to His service. They all suffered severe persecution, but their faith and dedication was too strong to be anything other than voluntary slaves to Jesus. Is that our attitude today? Or do we just say “I believe” then go on being a slave to the world?

It’s important to understand that we all choose to follow a master. If we don’t choose to be a servant to Jesus, then we choose Satan as a master. Servitude to Satan carries with it the harshness of the slavery that the Egyptians forced upon the Hebrews or the slave trade that was an ugly blotch in history. By your servitude to the evil one, you’ll suffer under his yoke and face the wages of sin, which is death. On the other hand, by becoming a slave to Jesus, you choose a brighter path. That path will still be filled with challenges, temptations, and failures but the ultimate gain is eternal life.

Jesus said Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). 

Becoming a bond servant to Christ has eternal benefits.

Today, much of our servitude is to a job. We voluntarily take a job in order to pay the mortgage, buy food, drive a car, etc. A slave to bills must be a slave to the means to pay those bills. When we work for someone, he’s our master, and Christians are expected to serve him as if we were serving Christ. In fact, your servitude to Christ is a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week service.

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men (Ephesians 6:5-7).

Our job may not be easy, but easiness of servitude isn’t what determines if we give our service properly. If you’re a slave to Christ, He will help you to serve at your job in a manner that honors your true Master.

Now a word to the masters who employ the slave, servant, or employee: And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him (Ephesians 6:9).

God loves you whether you’re a master or a servant, employer or employee, and He has no prejudice as to skin color or nationality. Whatever your station in life, you’re loved by God. Our attitude towards other people needs to be the same as that of our Master. It isn’t a coincidence that the following verses in Ephesians 6 deal with putting on the full armor of God in order to fight against the powers of darkness. Indeed, Satan uses bad attitudes as a way to cause strife.

Whether in the workplace or outside of it, if you feel superior to someone or belittled by someone, you need to check your attitude. If you feel superior, then you need to humble yourself before the Lord. If you feel belittled, you need to be sure that your own attitude and actions aren’t causing others to react to you in a bad way. Turn to the Lord and let Him mold your attitude.

Brothers and sisters, we must always be ready to fight against the powers of darkness; and the way we treat each other is important in that fight. As an employer, you must be a leader and expect those you hire to give an honest day’s work, but you have no right to mistreat your employees.

Jesus fulfilled the Law, and the Law regarding slavery is just one example. He voluntarily became a servant so that we can have eternal life. We owe Him everything. When we accept the sacrifice He made for our salvation, we become His bond servant for life….for eternity. We voluntarily choose to follow Him, and our service needs to be as bond servants…voluntary because we love our Master.

Your choice is whether to be a slave to sin or a bond servant of Christ.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.

 

Psalm 26 :: by Nathele Graham

A Psalm of David: Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide (Psalm 26:1).

Throughout history there have been very few people who can compare to King David. His younger years were spent among sheep, and he knew how important it was to be watchful so the flock didn’t go astray. He learned skills of weaponry in order to protect the flock. He even killed a lion and a bear in protecting his sheep. He was young when Samuel was sent by God to anoint him as the chosen king of Israel to reign after Saul. Why was David chosen?

Unbeknownst to him, he had been training to be king his entire life.

The skills he learned from tending to a wandering flock of sheep would help him to watch over the kingdom which God entrusted to him. The fight with the lion and the bear taught him to overcome fear to defend the flock against the enemy. The time he spent sitting and watching the sheep taught him to be observant and alert. It also gave him time to practice the skills of war. Those skills served him well when Saul’s army cowered in the rocks, hiding from Goliath. Goliath’s blasphemy of God Almighty offended David who fearlessly took his slingshot to battle the giant. David knew that God was with him.

The time with the sheep was also spent drawing near to God. In Psalm 26, David asked God to judge (vindicate) him and wasn’t afraid of what the Lord would find. If there was sin, he wanted God to reveal it so that he could continue to walk in integrity and not stumble. This wasn’t a request for God to give a quick look, but David wanted God to do a deep search of his heart. Whatever God found that needed to be changed, David would repent and change to fit God’s standards. This humble side of David is what made him a man after God’s own heart.

The songs David wrote reveal the character of this God-fearing man. David was far from perfect, but he didn’t sit back and accept his sin as simply being human. Likewise, our desire should be to please God. Psalm 26 shows us how David’s trust in the LORD molded and guided his life.

Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart (Psalm 26:2).

Are you brave enough to ask God to examine you? We all have things lurking in the dark recesses of our hearts. Resentment against a person can grow into hatred, or maybe there’s a hidden desire to commit adultery. If you don’t turn to God for help, you run the risk of the hidden sin becoming an action.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14-15). 

We have Scripture to guide us; and if any Christian says they didn’t know something was a sin, then that’s an indication that their Bible is gathering dust. Scripture is our guide, and prayer is our connection with God. Neither should be neglected.

Our attitude and our choice of friends affect our outlook. David was a man who recognized God’s handiwork and chose to see His goodness and kindness instead of doom and gloom. It wasn’t that David didn’t have problems, but he always turned to God. There were instances where King Saul tried to kill him; and then his own son, Absalom, turned against him. Instead of allowing the problems in his life to ruin his character, David saw God’s lovingkindness.

For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers (Psalm 26:3-4).

David chose his friends and advisors wisely. He didn’t surround himself with men who told him what he wanted to hear, but with men who helped him stay right with God. There was a time when David wanted to build a Temple for God, but Nathan the prophet honestly told him that God wouldn’t allow him to build it. It was also Nathan who pointed out the sin David committed with Bathsheba. We all need to have people around us who will help us stay right with God rather than help us to sin. We also have the Holy Spirit to guide us through Scripture.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

It may be that you need to use Scripture to allow God to reveal the sin in your life, or maybe you should use it to help a fellow Christian out of their sin, just as Nathan helped David.

Too often we worry about being judgmental if we recognize someone’s sin as sin. It’s wrong to judge with condemnation in mind, but God gives us the facts to judge with discernment. We aren’t to fellowship with persistent evil doers, even if they claim to be Christian.

“I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked” (Psalm 26:5).

God loves people, but the sin that separates us from Him is another matter. We need to witness to the unsaved and introduce them to Christ; but if we don’t allow God to examine our hearts and reveal our own sin, we run the risk of becoming a part of the congregation of evil doers. When we forge friendships with people who reject Christ and follow after evil, we run the risk of being influenced by them. You may have to shop at a store owned by a wicked person and may even witness to evil doers, but you don’t forge friendships with them.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret Ephesians 5:11-12.

As long as we live on this side of Heaven we’ll have to be around people who reject Christ and see sin as normal. God doesn’t want us to hide away and not have contact with sinners, but we needn’t fellowship with them.

I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD. That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works (Psalm 26:6-7).

None of us are innocent. Not even David. Washing one’s hands will cleanse the dirt and germs from them, and the Jewish Law required certain ceremonial washings; but the cleansing was never permanent. The Pharisees confronted Jesus as to why His disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate bread. After a lengthy answer in which He pointed out that the Pharisees were far from clean in their ways, Jesus made it clear what it is that truly defiles a person.

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man (Matthew 15:11).

David desired to be innocent so he could be at the altar of God and praise Him and tell of the wonders God has done. David certainly did that as evidenced by the numerous Psalms which he wrote. As Christians we should also take care about what comes out of our mouths. Do we speak using foul language? Do we gossip about others or share filthy jokes? It would be so much better to use our voice to thank God for all He has done, and sing His praises.

It would be wonderful if every leader of every nation had the desire of King David. He loved the Lord and loved to be in His presence.

LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house and the place where thine honour dwelleth (Psalm 26:8).

David’s son Solomon finally built the Temple for the Lord, but it was destroyed. It was then rebuilt, but again it was destroyed. Today we tend to think of a building we call a church and think that by going there we are in the place where the Lord dwells. Here’s something to consider:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16).

At the moment a person truly accepts Christ for salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells them. Their sins are forgiven and they are now the dwelling place of God. If, like David, you love the “…habitation of thy house and the place where thine honour dwelleth,” shouldn’t you love fellow Christians and draw near to them? We should also do all within our power to be sure that the temple of our own life is a place where the Holy Spirit is pleased to dwell.

David loved the Lord; but unlike Christians today, he didn’t have the assurance of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. At his time in history, he knew the Lord and looked forward to the coming Messiah. Only obedience to God’s Law could offer the hope of eternal life:

Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: in whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD (Psalm 26:9-12).

David’s desire was to not be counted among those who rejected God’s Law. Most of us today take salvation for granted. When we place our faith in Jesus, we become reconciled with God and we’re redeemed. Our sins are forgiven and eternal life is ours.

The sacrifice Jesus made is never to be taken for granted. He left the splendor and glory of Heaven to step into this fallen world. In spite of being mocked and scorned by the religious leaders, Jesus’ love was perfect. Your acceptance of His sacrifice is the only way you can avoid the eternal death that the “sinners and bloody men” will face during the final judgment at the White Throne. If you haven’t placed your eternal life in the hands of Jesus, you need to make that decision today.

Whether you’ve asked Him or not, God has already searched your heart and you’re guilty of sin that’s worthy of death. Eternal death. Nobody can be saved by good works and nobody is good enough when judged by God’s standards. Now, the good news. If you’ve accepted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for salvation, you aren’t condemned.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).

Accept that salvation right now. Turn from your sin and start living your life so you honor Jesus. You will never regret that decision throughout all eternity.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.