Thursday, May 30, 2019 -
I have been reading through the book of Acts. Being incarcerated for refusing to deny God’s Word, it has a special meaning to me now. Paul thought, being a Roman citizen, that if he appealed to Rome, he would receive justice, particularly since it was the Jews demanding his death. Paul languished for years in prison awaiting justice, even putting up with a two-year period of incarceration in Caesarea (Acts 23:27). He, too, was considered a ring leader (Acts 24:2). And he defended himself to the utmost because he knew he was innocent.
Yet still, Paul constantly called himself a slave, but not a slave to any man, or government, and certainly not to the religious leaders. He said, “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a slave (doulos) of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). And so, Paul wrote to the Philippians from Rome while in prison, “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being killed and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:11-12).
Being Christ’s slave is not a term used flippantly. Jesus said we can’t be a slave to money and God (Matthew 7:24). The term slave (doulos), most often wrongly translated “servant,” occurs 125 times in the New Testament.
But the connotation of a slave/master relationship we find in Scripture in one wherein there is a perfect master, who cares for the well-being of His slaves. So we slaves can have the utmost confidence in our Master’s care, just as did the prophet, Elijah. This is the context in which Jesus tells us to be anxious for nothing, immediately after telling us we can’t be a slave to money and God. Our reliance must be solely on our Master (Matthew 6:25-34). And so we also want to be content in every condition and circumstance we find ourselves in, not just as Paul was content as indicated in the Philippians passage above, even during his incarceration.
And, just as the slave of a good master should strive for excellence in pleasing his master, so should we – out of love for our great Benefactor who loves us so much He gave His Son to die for us so that we might live! And we must carefully weigh the use of our time in pleasing the Master and be good stewards of what He entrusts in our care.
Paul’s next verse to the Philippians says. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” What more can I add!