Summary: Real freedom is slavery - slavery to Jesus!
Intro: Sandy Perceval lived in a 97 room manor, built in 1864. He had lived there more than 30 years, he had been going into the cellar, when needed, to get a cigar from the bunch of cigars that he had found there.
He never thought much about it until in 1995 he gave one to a friend. This friend was so impressed with it that he asked if he could take a few of them to be appraised. It turned out that the cigars had been rolled in 1864, making them the oldest smokable cigars in the world!
Sondra Bazrod writes in The Hunt for Amazing Treasures, “Thanks to the mist from a nearby lake, the Irish damp, and the temperature of the wine cellar, the cigars survived in perfect condition.”
Originally there were thousands of cigars but by 1995 there were only a few strays left, plus an unopened box of 500 cigars. The estimated value of that one box - $1,000,000!
2. Who would think that some old, smelly, cancer causing cigars would be so valuable? It’s the same with Slavery – who would think that slavery would be something of inexpressible joy!
3. The Joy of Slavery.
Philippians 1:1 (NKJV)
1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
I. For starters, slavery Defines Paul’s Ministry.
A. The History of slavery.
1. The Situation in Paul’s day.
a. The various Routes to slavery: Birth, if your parents were slaves, so are you; Debt, if you could not pay off your debts, you could sell your children into slavery to pay them off; Adversity, if you were captured in war, or kidnapped you would go into slavery.
b. The Results: it is estimated that about 50% of Rome were slaves.
c. The Recipitants of this letter.
(1) Mostly Gentiles. Slavery for them usually meant cruelty. But could mean Dignity if they were slaves in a royal household.
(2) Jews, like Paul, could only be forced slaves by fellow Jews, for 6 years (Deut.15:12, 16-17). If a slave loved his master he could choose to be a slave, they would bore a hole in his ear (Ex. 21:5-6). Gal. 6:17, the word “mark” refers to a slave’s brand.
2. The Correlation to us.
We are born in a Slave Market, this worlds system (I Jn. 5:19) under a Slave Master, Satan (Jn. 12:31), thus all of humanity are Slaves (Eph. 2:2-3), until we are Saved from it by the Blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:14-15/I Pet. 1:18-19). Now we are only slaves by choice! (Rom. 6)
Abraham Lincoln detested slavery. He once came upon a woman who was being auctioned off. He made the highest bid on her and then told her she was free. She said,
“Free to do whatever I want to? Free to do whatever I want?” He said, “Yes, you are free!” She said then I’m going with you, while Abe turned the offer down, our Lord does not.
B. The Ministry of slavery.
Paul’s ministry was all tied up in being a slave of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1/Tit. 1:1). Every real man of God ministry is tied up in slavery to Jesus Christ. Whether it is Abraham (Psa. 105:42); Moses (Num.12:7/Josh. 14:7); Joshua (Josh. 24:29/Jud.2:8); David (Psa.89:3); and all the prophets (Jer. 25:4/Ezk.38:17).
This slavery-ministry brought Joy! Because about 19 times Paul uses that word in this little letter. Slavery usually isn’t linked with joy, you would think if some one is a slave they would be miserable…not so!
Maybe you have seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds? It looks likes a bad situation for those being chased by those birds. But those were trained birds! Ray Berwick trained the birds to land on people’s head when they were standing still. The actors weren’t really being attacked or harmed, but were having fun!
The world thinks slavery to Christ is something terrible but not to us! To the believer in Christ it’s fun, its joy unspeakable and full of glory.
II. Furthermore, slavery Determines our Soul-mates.
Paul and Timothy – there was always a natural bond between slaves. They were in it together, they understood a slaves like better than anyone else! The worked side by side; they served the same master.
All believers are Soul-mates! We alone understand what the Body of Christ is really all about; we work side-by-side for the same Lord and Master. How sad not to realize this truth among believers.
When Yvette was 3 years old and her brother James was 7 months old their father and mother separated. The father took James, and the mother took Yvette and that was the last they heard or seen of each other.
James went to school in Philadelphia and got a job at the Post office. He worked the 4 pm shift along with 4,100 other people. One day he was talking to Barbie Bowens about his life, here is how the Boston Globe reported the story: