“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’?  Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’?  Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?  So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10 ESV)
The self-indulgent society in which we live teaches us that we are what we make of ourselves. We are free people, entitled to pursue whatever our hearts desire and no one has the right to tell us what to do. But the words of our Saviour here in the days of his flesh preach just the opposite. We are not free people, but slaves. The Greek word doulos which is here translated as “servant,” can be more accurately translated as bondservant (ESV footnote) or slave. In the Greco-Roman world of Jesus’ day, a slave was his master’s property and fully owned by him. He had no rights of his own, but lived with one singular ambition—to do his master’s will. And so it is with followers of Christ. To be a follower of Jesus is to be a slave of God.
But as shocking as this is to our culture that prizes personal freedom, we must not think that being a slave of Christ is a negative thing. The Scriptures are clear that no one—not a single person—is truly free, but all are slaves. Paul says, “… when you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (Rom 6:20). Therefore, we are either slaves of sin or we are slaves of God—there is nothing in between. The only freedom we have if we do not belong to God is the freedom to sin and to disregard the law of God. But the only benefit that this “freedom,” offers is destruction. If God is not our master, then we serve another master—the master of sin and death. He is a cruel master and so long as we serve him, the wages that we earn will only lead to death.
BUT the free gift of God, who bought us with the blood of His very own Son and removed the chains of sin from our souls, is eternal life!
What a joy it is to have been purchased from the slave market of sin and employed in our Master’s family! We are unworthy in that we did not deserve to be saved. We are unworthy in that we have no good apart from God. We are unworthy in that we were God’s enemies. And yet He chose not just to forgive us of our crime of high treason against his holiness, but also to mark us as his very own! Never have we seen such a picture of pure, divine and matchless love! And though we are commanded to serve, we serve out of outrageously grateful hearts that are the recipients of incomparable divine mercy! O what a joy it is to be a slave of Christ rather than a slave of sin!
Christian, do you ever think about the fact that you are an unworthy slave of God? Do you realize that your life is not your own but whatever suffering or work your Master has for you is His particular assignment for you? Is it your life’s ambition to properly steward what He has given you so that you might maximally glorify your Master? Do you labour and suffer for God because you love your Master and singularly desire to please Him with everything that you have? Or do you harbor bitterness in your heart because you cannot accept his Lordship over your life when He does not give you what you want?
Christian freedom is not the right to live and do as we please, but the freedom to live for righteousness and to be God’s slave. The Christian life is the privilege of living for Him who for our sake died and was raised (2 Cor 5:15). God’s antidote for the sin of discontentment, dissatisfaction and entitlement is not to give us what we think we deserve, but to give us true knowledge of who we are. And when we have finished labouring diligently for Christ and drunk the cup of suffering that He has poured out on each of our lives for our sanctification, we shall have the satisfaction of standing before our King’s throne. And we will say, “Master, I stand here clean because of what Jesus has done and not what I have done. All the good works that I have done were but my duty and I am still nothing but an unworthy slave.” And in that day, our Master will say, “Well done good and faithful slave. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.”