Slavery & Service
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13-14).
Have you ever heard a child say, “You’re no the boss of me?” Have you ever heard your spouse say, “I’m not your slave?” Perhaps you’ve said these things? We love our freedom. In our Western culture we live for ourselves, pleasing ourselves, seeking a life where we get to meet our needs and create a lifestyle we can enjoy.
Did you know that Christ has something far better?
In today’s passage, the apostle Paul draws an interesting picture between slavery to sin and service to one another. It’s found when we compare freedom to service. Did you catch this unique usage? What does a slave normally do? He serves his master. So, to become a free person the former slave no longer serves his master. He is free to serve his own needs. But, Paul doesn’t go in that direction. Instead, he applies more slavery terminology and says that instead of serving a slave master, we must serve, “One another.”
We are no longer slaves to sin. We are slaves to Christ (I Corinthians 7:22). And the service that we are to render is more than to Christ, but is service to one another. And that service is motivated and bound up in love: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
We cannot say we love Christ without obeying his commands. And we cannot say we love others if we do not serve them. If you want to reach someone for Christ, serve their needs. If we want to express God’s love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we must serve them as well. Service is an expression of love that we all can understand. It places the needs of another person above our own needs, and this is command of God. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Isn’t this what a slave does? He serves another more important than himself? And yet under our freedom in Christ we are to have this same attitude (but with joy), to serve one another.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3)
Take a look at your relationships. How do you serve others in your daily actions? How do you place the needs of others as more important than your own?