Of Servants, Slaves and Friends
From now on I do not call you servants; for the servant does not know no what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known to you. – John 15:15
The dictionary defines a servant as – “One employed to perform domestic or other services.” Someone who is “hired” can if he so chooses, leave his job for various reasons at any time. If he is not happy with his employer, or working conditions or his wages, he can always quit and find more suitable employment.
Slaves, however, do not have that option. The dictionary defines a slave as “A person who is owned by and forced to work for someone else – or a person completely controlled by a specific influence, emotion, etc.”
Although Jesus is shown calling His disciples “servants” in many translations of the Scriptures, the primary meaning of the Greek word that is used, “doulos” is actually slave.
As we have just been shown, there is a big difference between a servant and a slave.
The Apostles tell us that "We are bought with a price" - I Corinthians 6:20. Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot - I Peter 1:18, 19.
True Christians have been purchased by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice and we are no longer our own. Christians are slaves to God through our Messiah, Lord and Master, Jesus, the Son of God.
Jesus tells what happens when a hireling or servant is placed in charge of his employer’s sheep.
“But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep.”– John 10:12, 13.
The hireling quits the minute his working conditions place him in jeopardy. He is the equivalent of the one in Jesus’ parable who serves the Lord for awhile, but have “No root” - “…when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation (testing) fall away. – Luke 8:13.
Slaves can’t abandon the sheep. They know that they belong to their Master, they are “rooted” in Jesus because they know they have been bought with such a great price and cannot leave their assignments even when faced with overwhelming persecution and difficulties.
Jesus had amassed a great following and instead of making sure He always said the right things to keep the crowd at His heels, He did just the opposite. He is not an “ear tickler” as so many in the church are today. Jesus was then and is now a discerner of the intents and inner workings of the human heart. Instead of promising those followers a well paying job with guaranteed prosperity, paid vacations and comfortable working conditions, He offered them Himself. “Eat My flesh and Drink My Blood” - John 6:53.
The ‘what’s in it for me’ crowd quickly dissipated, as the hirelings fled leaving a remnant of slaves – disciples- who recognized that they had no where else to go because Jesus had “the words of eternal life.”
They were slaves, “completely controlled by a specified influence, emotion, etc;” they were slaves to the Truth. This devotion would cause them to graduate from the status of slaves to a much higher category.
Jesus speaks the words of God and God through His Son called them “friends.” At that moment they were promoted to the level shared with faithful Abraham who was called the “friend of God” – II Chronicles 20:7.
The love of a true friend will remain faithful in spite of the hardships, and the dangers, because a true friend loves at all times - Proverbs 17:17 - and remains faithful to the end.
When hirelings are tested they flee. When slaves are tested they stand – and remain like faithful Abraham, a true friend of God.
Copyright 2010 by H. D. Shively
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