Summary: Being a servant of Christ is not to be taken lightly, and with the understanding that it involves more than a casual commitment.

Spiritual Servanthood

Text: I Cor.7: 22-23; Deut.15: 17

Intro: Few, if any modern-day Americans, have experiential knowledge of what it means to be a slave—the servant of another, who has total control over one’s person. That’s one of the blessings of American society and culture. We may expect good service at the local restaurant; but we know that that service has certain limits. The restaurant’s employees aren’t expected to submit to the customers’ every whim and command. That’s because they are servers, not servants.

In Bible times, a servant was a person who was totally committed to doing the bidding of his or her master. It was a commitment of their life, not merely their labor. Their only mission was to please their master, no matter how difficult or laborious the task assigned to them. For that reason, the life of a servant could be very hard.

The words of First Corinthians 7: 22 and 23 are somewhat of a paradox. In essence, Paul said that a slave who trusts Christ is made free. On the other hand, a free man who trusts Christ as Savior is the slave of Christ. The paradox is understood by realizing that salvation means being set free from one’s sin and the bondage of the old life, and yet, out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us, we are to be totally committed to pleasing Him in love. Please understand that Christ does not view or treat His children like slaves. But we should be so totally committed to pleasing Him, that our service to Christ might appear to be that of a bondservant.

Our second passage of scripture speaks of a Hebrew, who for one reason or another, was forced to sell himself or herself to another Hebrew as an indentured servant. The Law set their term of service at six years. After that, they were to go free. However, occasionally, one who entered into service out of duty would choose to remain in service the rest of their life, due to devotion. It is this rare occasion that we want to look at today and draw from it some principles about our service to Christ.

Theme: Spiritual servanthood, like that of the Old Testament, is:


A. We Could Serve Out Of Duty.

1. This was how the Hebrew servant began his service.

Deut.15: 12 “And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.”

NOTE: [1] Another Hebrew never forced a fellow Hebrew into servanthood. It was a personal decision on the part of a Hebrew who could pay off his or her debt no other way. When a poor Israelite entered into such an arrangement with one of his wealthy countrymen, it was for no longer than six years, and treatment of an indentured servant was usually good.

[2] Though this service was by agreement, and the treatment was good, the poor Hebrew was a servant nonetheless. Let me explain.

“’Servant’ in our English New Testament usually represents the Greek doulos (bondslave). Sometimes it means diakonos (deacon or minister); this is strictly accurate, for doulos and diakonos are synonyms. Both words denote a man who is not at his own disposal, but is his master’s purchased property. Bought to serve his master’s needs, to be at his beck and call every moment, the slave’s sole business is to do as he is told. Christian service therefore means, first and foremost, living out a slave relationship to one’s Savior (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).

James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.

2. God doesn’t desire merely dutiful service from His saints.

a. Our worship should not be out of mere duty.

Ps.100: 2a “Serve the Lord with gladness…”

b. Our giving should not be out of mere duty.

II Cor.9: 7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

c. Our ministry should not be out of mere duty.

I Pet.5: 2 “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”

B. We Should Serve God Out Of Devotion.

John 15: 15 “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

NOTE: Jesus saved us to set us free, for He said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8: 36). However, our gratitude to Christ for what He’s done for us should result in willing, faithful and loving servitude. It should be service because we want to, not because we have to.

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