But if he says to you, I have no desire to go away from you; because you and your family are dear to him and he is happy with you; Then take a sharp- pointed instrument, driving it through his ear into the door, and he will be your servant for ever.Deu 5:17-18
Read the verses around the one above. Start with verse 12 through to 18, will you?
When an Israelite had to sell himself as a servant. This is how this starts out.
An Israelite. A brother. Somebody who belongs. We know that the old testament plays out in the natural the principles that hold in the spiritual in the new. An Israelite therefore stands for a Christian brother.
This Israelite was in need. Maybe his farm did not feed his family any longer. Thus he subdued himself to another for provision and shelter. Not an easy decision.
This section of scripture, together with some in Paul’s letter, have been used to justify slavery. But God makes it clear here that he does not support slavery, but knows his people as well. Instead of asking for the impossible – a change from horrible slavery with terrible conditions, giving the master the right over life and death, to no slavery at all – he sets his people on a trajectory that betters the conditions substantially and eventually leads to the abolishment of slavery all in all.
But this is not what I want to talk about today.
When we give our life to Christ, we often do it out of a need. Sickness, lack, you name it. And we experience freedom. Our needs are met, and we can relax. Yet we have to work in exchange.
I told you that God put in place some great conditions, comparable to modern employee security laws. When your term of servanthood was over, you had to be let go with a salary. Apart from food and shelter, those slaves got wages! They got wages, because they worked for it.
Too often, we believe that we have to work for our salvation. That we need to pay back what Jesus has done on the cross for us. And we mumble and grumble to say the least, sometimes outright complain. We are doing things because we must.
There is another way.
Whom the son sets free is free indeed. From the very moment we are saved, God whispers into our ears that we are free. But we do not believe it. We can’t hear him. We just surrendered out of need, how could we believe that we are free?
But Jesus came to set the captive free and announce the glorious year of the Lord, the Jubilee. The year the slaves were set free.
And there comes the time, we eventually hear this still small voice whispering: you are free.
This is a time of decision. We can go free that moment, taking our salary and leave. We can decide to live our life in the grace of God, accepting his death and knowing that I am without sin because I am forgiven. And live forever happy in the seemingly all allowing grace of God. Live as I want in the assurance of what Jesus did for me at the cross.
We can do that. And, assuming that we come up with the strength to stay in relationship, even make it to heaven. Pure grace from the finished work of Christ.
Or we can surrender for life because we learned to love the master and his family.
It is rather clear that Jesus is the master. But his family? The Hebrew word here is bet. It means house as well as family. It stands for family in the well known decision of Joshua: But me and my house will serve the Lord. And it stands for house when talking about the temple.
Paul and Peter tell us that we are the temple now. His house and his family. To love the master and his family therefore means to love Christ, he the head and we the body. To love Jesus and the church.
Imagine yourself in a slave’s position with a great master that has a terrible wife – the one Proverbs tells you that it is better to live in a small chamber under the roof than with a complaining wife. And those kids! Given the choice to go, you run!
Since you cannot have Jesus without the church, you better love the church as well. And church, do not be that woman!
But now you love Jesus and his family. You decide to serve for life. Your ear gets pierced to show everybody. This ear now belongs to the master, and you get a whole new hearing. It began when you were able to hear this small still voice whispering: you are free.
With that decision, you loose your right for a salary. Nothing belongs to you any longer. But you gain something else:
And Abraham said to his chief servant, the manager of all his property, Come now, put your hand under my leg.Gen 24:2
You gain access to all your master owns as a steward.
Said servant was sent with treasures on ten fully loaded camels to get a wife for the son. The church is sent loaded with treasures to get a bride for Jesus. This servant easily could have made a u-turn and live a great life in Egypt with the riches he was entrusted with. But the thought did not even cross his mind because he loved the master and his family. He belonged.
He became a bondservant.
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.John 8:31-32
But there is more.
A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house.John 8:35
God does not see us as bondservants or slaves.
It is nor said about Jesus: a child is born, a son given, and his name is eternal master. No, he is called eternal father.
The moment we accept Jesus, we are born anew as children of God. We then grow into sons. But sons that are not of age are as servants with the promise of one day owning everything, Paul tells the Galatians.
Even Paul puts becoming a son in the context of accepting Jesus.
But again, we do not believe it. It can’t be. We first come back to the father just like the prodigal son: let me be your servant. And when announced and re-established as son, we stay insecure and often fear loosing our privileges the first time we goof up.
Yet God has established us as sons, and eventually we grow up and believe it. We mature. What we were in charge of up to now as a bondservant becomes ours. We are settled and set into position. We were since God had his first thought about us, way before we were formed in our mother’s womb. But we can’t have it unless we believe it.
Where are you at
Let’s make an experiment. I am going to tell you some things, and you watch your reaction.
- It is very important to belong to a church family and give yourself fully into it. Connecting, working, going to the assemblies, investing, tithing.
- God works through other people. He has decided to tell you even uncomfortable things through the mouths of—people. Therefore, you need relationships.
- There is but one pattern for church, and it involves the fivefold ministry that is given so we can all mature. No apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher in the house—no church!
- God gives you examples in flesh and blood to serve and love, spiritual fathers and mothers that can correct and encourage you. Just like he wants to do. Because how can you say you love the father whom you do not see and hate the brother you do see?
Just these four. Now, how did you react?
- I have to do all that? Come on.—Maybe, you are still a slave in it for provision and salary.
- I love to do that.—You have become a bondservant.
- So what’s new? That’s family!—A true son.
I challenge you to watch your reactions in the time to come, evaluate your state, and grow. It’s a process.
A Process – but how?
You can grow by just taking some great decisions. Changing your thinking, your habits. This will help and take you quite far. But not all the way.
Some things you just do not see. And this is where family kicks in.
Observing others, we see that things can be done differently. Things we were taught and imprinted that they had to be done and dealt with in a certain way. Seeing people do them differently, reacting differently puts cracks into our shells, allows us to think different, and heal and change.
Coming into relationship with a spiritual father or mother, having ministries of the fivefold speak into our lives will provide the necessary anointing and authority to brake the yoke. Because the anointing brakes the yoke.
Join a family.
Be assured: you are free and you are a son. And eventually, you will believe it, if you do those things. God has all the time of the world, and he will never overwhelm you, but he will deal with one thing at the time. In some areas, you are a slave, in some a bondservant. In some a son.
Let me know your thoughts—and reflect on them, because they just might tell you where you stand. Looking forward to hearing from you, son of God.