In history class, you learn about slavery and how people were taken from one location unwillingly to work for the needs of others. It’s not ideal right?? When you really think about it, they were not asked to be slaves. They were brought under these conditions. Even when looking in the Bible, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. They all would do anything to escape from these conditions. But, throughout history, all slaves were freed. Many of them had no intention of going back into slavery again.
So what does this story have to do with being a servant for God?? After hearing stories about slavery and what it was like to actually be in slavery, who would want to willingly become a servant?? We have been so used to our own independent lives that it would seem ridiculous to leave that in order to willingly follow someone else. If you think about it, we do this all the time with people in the media, the news, and even material things. Even when it doesn’t look like we depend on these things, we do. Sometimes we might depend on these things for validation or simply pure enjoyment. However you look at it, we aren’t really as independent as we think we are.
But less about my tangent and back to the topic at hand here…being a servant for God. I wasn’t really sure what this meant until I looked at 1 Peter 2:16. The English Standard Version (ESV) states that we are to “live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil but living as servants for God.” Living as a servant means that we are free to act within the bounds of God’s will. The keyword here: bounds. This can be difficult to grasp because we have to let go of being alone and be guided by someone else. We have to drop our happiness in other things and place our happiness in him. But placing our happiness in him means that we need to leave ourselves and all other earthly things first. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out and buy things or whatever else, you just can’t depend on them. God gave us everything we needed when his son died on the cross for us.
I looked deeper to understand what it meant to be a servant, because like I said early, it doesn’t sound too appealing if I’m being honest. In the ESV version the word servant derives from the Greek word doulos. This word has various definitions many being either slave or servant. However, there was one definition that I think perfectly sums up what it means to be a servant for Christ.
Doulos: a slave devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interest
I believe that this fits perfectly with this whole week and leaving the self-reliant phase. We must be able to leave our own interests and leave our independence behind in order to devote ourselves to God.
There could be many reasons why we don’t do this. For one, it feels better to do things our own way. But our faith must override our feelings. Feelings can be the main things blocking you from God. Through my own experiences lately, I am really coming to realize that feelings of self-accomplishment and approval from others is what keeps me in my stage of independence. It feels good to accomplish things on your own and to be applauded. It makes you want to do more on your own and continue to do better.
But when you are doing things on your own God isn’t necessarily in that process. If you don’t include him in the process you can’t still be filled with other’s approval but be spiritually empty. Being a servant for God means leaving our own interests and more importantly involving God in everything we do. Even when it feels painful or it feels like we are alone, we aren’t. Being servants for God means that he is always watching over us.
It starts with us. We have to be servants and give God the credit. When we leave our own interests and become servants, we know that God is there. We are doing things not only for God but for his glory. Everything we do should be for him, not for our own benefit. God will always bless us, and he will always be there to fight for us and with us, but people are not always capable of doing the same.
It’s hard and it will take some time but being a servant for God is not easy. It’s a continuous process and a growing process at that. We will not be perfect, and God isn’t asking for that. He is simply asking for doulos: a servant who can devote themselves to God and what God has called them to do.