Summary: At Christmas, we might wonder what made Mary so special to God? We may find the answer in one word she used to describe herself to Gabriel: "Handmaid".
Mary the "Slave-Girl"
Pastor Dave Campbell
Mary must have been quite a girl. To be chosen of God to bear His Son and raise Him to adulthood was no small thing! When the angel Gabriel appeared to her and spoke of God’s plan for salvation and her part in it all, she responded with unusual grace and obedience. Just consider the things Gabriel told her:
She was highly favored of God (Verse 28, a word used of all believers in Ephesians 1:6 by the way), she would conceive and bring forth a Son, He would be Great, the Son of the Highest, He would inhabit the throne of David and shall reign over the House of Jacob forever, of His Kingdom there shall be no end. The Holy Spirit was to over-shadow her and perform a miraculous conception in her virgin womb. Her cousin Elizabeth also conceived in her old age. An awful lot for a young girt to take in all at once. How could she begin to grasp it all? The secret lies in her answer: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word."
What made this young lady special? Her attitude of servitude to the Lord. She willing and without hesitation referred to herself as the "Handmaid or Slave-girl" of the Lord. This attitude was no doubt the key to:
1. HER FAVOR WITH GOD
God loves all of us and by His grace we enjoy His favor as Christians. But there was something about Mary that especially caught God’s attention. Without a doubt, it was her God-ward and child-like humility. Psa. 34:2 declares: "The humble shall hear thereof and be glad." James reminds us that God … "resists the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (Jas. 4:6) Mary herself used this same kind of language in her song of praise found in Luke 1:46-53. Her spirit was sold out to the Lord and completely given over.
Is God a respecter of persons? Of course not. But He is a respecter of faith and He delights in the humble heart which makes Him Lord! I believe I can guarantee this: that a faithful and humble heart always gets the attention of God!
2 HER ABILITY TO EMBRACE THE IMPOSSIBLE
If Gabriel had gone to anyone else, the response might have been: "What? Are you crazy? Have you been listening to too much singing up there?"
Rather, Mary responded by acknowledging the Lord’s sovereignty in the matter. "If He said it, I believe it, I accept it, I receive it and I embrace it." Did she understand it? No.
In fact, verses 29 & 34 indicate that she was puzzled more than anything else. Note this: Faith does not necessitate your understanding. If you understood it, it wouldn’t be faith, it would be knowledge. Faith lays hold of the miraculous when our minds cannot grasp it. The heart receives by faith what the mind cannot. Gabriel knew that it would be pointless to try to explain how the miracle would happen so it would need to suffice to say, "For nothing is impossible with God." Mary seemed willing to leave the matter in the hands of God. That takes faith and a humble acceptance of God’s will for your life.
If God wanted to birth a miracle in you, or a vision for ministry or a great move of His Spirit in your life, would you respond with Mary’s attitude? There is something about being under His Lordship which pre-disposes the heart to the Promises of God! It has been well said that only a yielded heart can desire, seek and know the will of God.
3. HER UNQUESTIONING OBEDIENCE
I’m His! Let Him do what He likes! She knew that God gives His very best to those who leave the choices up to Him. That was why God could use her.
I recall the story of a missionary Bible translator who couldn’t find an appropriate word for "obedience" in the people’s native tongue. Obedience was not a virtue that they were used to practicing. Later when he whistled for his dog to run home, a native man standing near by commented, "Your dog is all ear!" "That’s it!" The right word for obedience in that language was the word they used of "All ear!" An obedient Christian will listen for God’s voice with all ear and respond immediately. It really isn’t hard to obey your Master when you really love Him.
Many years ago, William Booth was asked about the secret of the success of his ministry. "God has all of me," he replied. "If there is anything of power in the Salvation Army, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, all the influence of my life."