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Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm a Doulos Too

Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12 (New American Standard Bible)

I remember a funny story about a young man who thought his life at home was composed more of being a servant than being his own man. He came home one day and announced, “I’ve joined the Army.” His Father looked up from his newspaper and asked, “Why did you do that, son?” The young fellow pulled himself up in a huff and said, “Because I’m tired of people telling me what to do!” I’m sure that young man got an education in self-determination as soon as he stepped off the bus at his basic training base. As humorous as the story is I have to say I am much like that young fellow in my distaste of being under authority.

The Greek Christian Epaphras considered himself a bond-servant as did the Apostle Paul. Being a bond-servant (Greek doulos, doo-los) meant the servitude could be voluntary as well as enforced. In the Law of Moses, recorded in the book of Exodus, a Hebrew man could enter into a contract of servitude for 6 years. In the 7th year the Law said the man’s master had to release him from his service and let him go. If the man brought his wife and children into the contract at the beginning he could leave with them. If the master gave the man a wife during his 6 years when he left the wife and any children were the master’s property and remained in the master’s house. The husband had to go out on his own. There was a condition however that would allow the servant to remain. If he loved his wife, children and master he could elect to remain in the master’s service and stay with his family for the rest of his life. After witnesses were brought the master took the servant to a door post and with a hammer and an awl (a tool with a sharp point) he would punch a hole in his servant’s ear. This mark indicated the man was bonded to his master for the rest of his life. Remember this was done voluntarily.

As much as I have a natural aversion to being under authority I realize servanthood is not something too heavy to bear. Would I rather be a slave to sin or a willing bond-servant of Jesus Christ? Even the yoke of Jesus is an easy thing to bear made all the easier by a daily surrender to overflowing of the Spirit He said would lead us into all truth (John 16:13). The alternative is the reality too heavy to bear. The result of sin gains me nothing but a sterile, empty room where I need to return again and again to be fulfilled for a few minutes. It becomes a vicious cycle. It is more fulfilling to go to my Master, pledge my devotion and affection to Him and allow Him to mark my ear on the doorpost of His home. Being a doulos to Christ is valuable and advantageous. Being His bond-servant truly makes me free.