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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bondservants of God

I was reading James today and didn't even make it past verse one without being knocked upside the head:

    Paul, a bondservant of God...

... Am I a bondservant?

Well of course I am! I'm a born-again Christian, friend of J.C. I belong to Him and that makes me a bondservant... right?

But what is a bondservant? Is that all it means- that I am a believer in Christ? I've heard enough sermons in my day to know that in the Bible, a "bondservant" was not the same as a regular slave. In Deuteronomy 15 God lays out the rules for slavery. If someone sold themselves into slavery to pay a debt they were to be released after six years. But look at verses 16-17:

    But if your servant says to you, "I do not want to leave you," because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, 17then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your maidservant.

            So sometimes a slave would choose to stay and serve the family out of love. They would give up their freedom, their life, and be marked publicly as a forever servant. A servant, a slave. Not just the buddy next door, the fun-loving cousin who showed up and told the guests what great hosts the family were. He served. Every day. For the rest of his life.

            Do I?

            Now, I know that I love the Lord. But have I made myself his bondslave? Have I given up my freedom, my own agendas and plans, and devoted myself daily to His service? Sure, I try to live well, study God's Word, sing the hymns and pray. And it all has great meaning. BUT- is there an awl through my ear? Have I been nailed to His doorway, always living under His roof and not owning a place of my own? Do others see I am not my own, but His? When He calls me to service, do I get up and go, or cling to my freedom to do what I like?

            I think there is a difference between being saved and being a bondservant. And I do believe that many of us in the church today are clinging to our freedom in Christ instead of giving it away for Him. Often it seems we give Him a portion of our freedom, but retain most for ourselves. We feel it is enough if we give up a couple hours per week of our "free time" to go to church. If we spend a few minutes in prayer before bed, if we read a Psalm to start our day, we classify this as Living For God. (Note the air of piety and grandeur with which this is said.)

            But what about the rest of "our" time? (OUR time?)

            Can't miss American Idol! I need my downtime! I better check my email/ facebook/ twitter/ forums/ blog comments again before dinner, after dinner, before bed. I'm in desperate need of a mani-pedi! When I'm interrupted for the umpteenth time, I often want to shout to my family "Can't I have just 5 minutes PLEASE?"..... Sometimes His answer is "No". Not all the time mind you, but probably more often than I care to think.

            Did He ask you to do something today that you chose to push aside? Maybe it was picking up your husband's socks instead of yelling at him for leaving them on the floor... again. Maybe it was humbling yourself to be the first to say "I'm sorry". Or cleaning your house, or bringing a meal to your neighbor, or playing with your kids. Maybe it was smiling at the homeless man who was digging through the garbage rather than averting- or rolling- your eyes. Or maybe it was even saying 'no' to the job promotion that would interfere with your ministry at church.

            Whatever it was that God whispered to you today, did you respond as His bondslave, or His buddy? Is He your Master, or just your Friend?

            Tough questions to ask myself. Because I know the answer isn't what it should be. I don't even like to give up the last K-cup, or refold the blanket I wasn't the one to use. Log off the computer to spend time in the Word? My fingers are practically glued to the keyboard.

            But the tough questions are the ones whose answers bring the most growth. They are the seeds planted by the Holy Spirit, and only by turning over the soil of my heart and watering those seeds with meditation and prayer will I see fruit.

            And I desperately want to see fruit. Especially when I gaze across the room to the couch where my daughter reclines and think:

            "When they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree... I want that to be a good thing."


            Coach said...

            Great devotion Chelle! Dad

            Dana said...

            That was amazingly insightful and gave me food for thought. Thank you I needed that today. :)

            Michelle Massaro said...

            Thank you- I'm glad God spoke to you through this post! :)