Bond-Servants: Part #2
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
UNDERSTANDING JAMES 1:1
James and others throughout Scripture refer to themselves as "bond-servants" of YHVH. This concept is reflects once choice to live a life of permanent service to a master they love. It is a willful choice that is sealed in the city gates for all to witness and attest to. As a bond-servant an individual would lay down their own will and purpose to seek the glory and success of their master for the rest of their lives. It is with this understanding we explored 2 or 3 critical precepts that govern the life of a true bond-servant. 1. The servant's life is not their own. While not relinquishing their humanity, they willingly set aside all their wants and desires to accomplish all their master has determined for them with humility and love. 2. The servant urgently goes about the work of the master. They do so without excuse, but rightly fear and love their master which leads them to humble obedience. This is only possible because a master was required to care for and love their servants, not as property but as humans designed in the image of their Creator.
3. The servant's work is to bring glory and/or fame to their master in reverent humility. This reality is based upon the fact the servant willingly lays down their own pursuits of glory and fame to support that of their master. Bond-servanthood is willful, joyful, self sacrifice in honor of the master they love.
The first two points we discussed in Part #1, the final point we will discuss in this part.
3. The Servant's work is to bring glory and/or fame to their master in reverent humility.
This particular characteristic flies in the face of our humanity in every form. We live in a self-centered, personal glory, and instant fame society. Yet, willingly relinquishing personal fame for the glory of the Master takes an immense amount of self control and humility that few in our modern society will ever fully realize. In this weird space where we find ourselves increasingly understanding what being a bond-servant to YHVH really means, we must reconcile the fact that we choose to become nothing outside of what the Master chooses to make us into.
To fully understand what it means to seek the glory and fame of our Master, we should look no further than the Messiah Yeshua, Himself.
John 17:4-7 esv
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.
Yeshua offers a glimpse in His prayer about what it looks like to glorify our Master. Yeshua says He glorified the Master on earth by accomplishing the work His Master, YHVH, gave Him to do. What was the work God asked Him to do? Verse 6 tells us that Yeshua made God's name (YHVH) manifest to the people and showed them how to keep God's word. According to Yeshua we glorify God by doing the work He gave us by manifesting the name of YHVH to the world by showing them how to keep His word. This is not a new concept. This is exactly the work God told the Hebrews to do when He gave them the Law at Mount Sinai. Moses makes a similar statement in Deuteronomy 6
Deuteronomy 6:1, 2, 4-6 esv Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long...4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Moses makes some pretty profound statements that seem to foreshadow Yeshua's prayer to His Master and Father, YHVH. But how does keeping our Master's commands bring Him glory? Deuteronomy 4 reveals the answer. Deuteronomy 4:6-8 esv 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
You see, as we follow God's instructions, commands, and statutes His way without all our opinions and pride and self-glory getting in the way, the nations will see Him in our obedience, and they will glorify God as a result. They glorify Him not because we are awesome, but as we obey they recognize His wisdom, His understanding, his closeness, and His love. What an amazing privilege it is to be a bond-servant of YHVH!
Yeshua and the apostles echo these sentiments all throughout their teachings.
Matthew 5:14-16 esv 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
1 Peter 2:1-12 esv 11 Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears.
There are two undeniable truths in these passages.
We can't be a light to the world, if we are just as dark as the world, and it is our "works" that set us apart. It is the work of bringing glory to God by keeping and teaching others the Word of God.
It is our good conduct and deeds that brings God glory to the nations. Again, that "good" conduct can only be truly good if it is defined as "good" by the Master. It is not the deeds the world says is good, but the deeds the Master says are good that are actually good, because they reveal His character to all who see it.
1 Peter 2:15-17 esv 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Remember, the words of Peter echo God’s own words throughout the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 4:5-7 net
5 Look! I have taught you statutes and ordinances just as the Lord my God told me to do, so that you might carry them out in the land you are about to enter and possess. 6 So be sure to do them, because this will testify of your wise understanding to the people who will learn of all these statutes and say, “Indeed, this great nation is a very wise people.” 7 In fact, what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him?
As a faithful servant we bring glory to God by obeying His commands, demonstrating His goodness and justice to the world. People see who He is through us. He willingly bought our debt so we should willingly honor and love Him by choosing a life as obedient, loving, humble bond-servants. When people see our love for Him through our obedience, then we offer a great light in a very dark world, and we bring glory and fame to the Master.
Rewards of faithful servanthood:
This was not listed as one of our characteristics of being a bond-servant, but as we discussed in Part #1, this is a side benefit of being a bond-servant to a just Master. We certainly do not become bond-servants for the rewards, the glory, or our fame, we do so out of love. This is not an attempt to glorify the gift instead of the giver, but it is a reality of our service to our Master.
Luke 12:37 net
37 Blessed are those slaves whom their master finds alert when he returns! I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, have them take their place at the table, and will come and wait on them!
Luke 12:43-44 net 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds at work when he returns. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions.
Deuteronomy 7:12-15 net 12 If you obey these ordinances and are careful to do them, the Lord your God will faithfully keep covenant with you as he promised your ancestors. 13 He will love and bless you, and make you numerous. He will bless you with many children, with the produce of your soil, your grain, your new wine, your olive oil, the offspring of your oxen, and the young of your flocks in the land that he promised your ancestors to give you. 14 You will be blessed beyond all peoples; there will be no barrenness among you or your livestock. 15 The Lord will protect you from all sickness, and you will not experience any of the terrible diseases that you knew in Egypt; instead he will inflict them on all those who hate you.
John 14:15-16,18, 21, 23, 27 net 15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. 16 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth...18 “I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you...21 The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him...” 23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him... 27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.
Despite these benefits we don’t serve because He gives us things, we serve because He’s already demonstrated His love for us by paying our debt which we could not pay on our own. This is why it is so important for us to understand Biblical servanthood and free ourselves from the bondage of lies our modern world have instilled in us about a life of servanthood. We cannot presume to accept these blessings without first becoming faithful servants to the Master.
Warning for the unfaithful servant:
Consider a hypothetical scenario with me. Many of you are likely aware of the Hindenburg disaster on March 6, 1937. What most of us don't know is that crash happened after a 3 day transatlantic flight in which the landing was delayed by nearly 12 hours due to strong headwinds and eventually bad weather at the landing sight. Out of the 97 passengers and crew aboard the airship that evening 35 would eventually lose their lives when the Hindenburg burst into a fireball that evening. But what if Captain Max Pruss had urgently warned his passengers of the impending doom and the fateful consequences that awaited each of them as they boarded the flight on May 3? How many of those would have still boarded and suffered this disastrous fate? It is for this exact purpose the Bible attempts to offer us warnings for unfaithfulness. We are given the chance ahead of time to get off the doomed ship before it bursts into utter catastrophe. These warnings are road markers to alert us of the dangers we face when we defy, reject, or attempt to defame our Master, YHVH.
This message of servanthood comes with a stark warning that we should not ignore. Remember this Biblical narrative is built around the idea of a person entering into a servanthood contract because another person has agreed to pay their debt. Consider if that person pays the debt on behalf of the servant, but that servant goes about acting as if he paid his own debt. He/she does not serve the master, does not honor the master in their work, does not glorify the master for covering the debt, but instead pursues their own will while snubbing the will of the master. How do you think the master would respond?
The Bible answers this question for us.
Luke 12:45-47 net 45 But if that slave should say to himself, ‘My master is delayed in returning,’ and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk, 46 then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 47 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or do what his master asked will receive a severe beating.
There are two kinds of servants in this parable. The first is a violent, unfaithful mongrel who assumes the authority and glory of the master in the master's absence. This servant abuses the master's other servants and misuses the master's resources for their own pleasure. The other is the servant that does not do the will of the master while the master is away and is not ready for his return. The first is cut in half and thrown away with the other unfaithful, the second is severely beaten. While a just a parable, there is some significant depth to this teaching from Yeshua. If we are faithful servants we cannot mistreat and misuse the Master's other servants and His resources. We also must be about the will and work of the Master, always ready for His return. If the Master returned today, how would He view us? Would we be unfaithful servants misusing His resources and abusing His servants? Are we going about His work and accomplishing His will, or are we seeking our own will and building our own kingdom? I fear the look of the modern church is that of the abusive and reckless unfaithful servant and we are woefully unprepared for His return. If that is true, then we must repent, amend our ways, and return to faithful service to YHVH once again, and help others do the same. This is a heavy warning, but it does not end here.
Hebrews 10:26-31 net 26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, 27 but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies 28 Someone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and insults the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. We must understand that when we come to know how Jesus paid the debt of sin we were owed through His grace, while we were His enemies, there is a certain weight that comes along with that knowledge. If we choose to live as people who are independent and free as if we’ve paid our own debt. If we continue to pursue our own will, thumbing our nose in the face of the good Master who chose to redeem us from the curse of sin that rests on all of our lives, then we are willfully rejecting our Master and He has every right to exercise His just vengeance upon us as rebellious servants. God is good, and out of His great kindness and love He provided redemption for us. Purchasing us back, paying a great price for us, even while we were His enemies. There is nothing we can do on our own to accomplish this outcome. Once we understand this truth, we should gladly rush to the feet of the Master and serve Him with all of our hearts, souls and minds as we are compelled to do in Deuteronomy. Not because we can pay Him back, but because we love Him so much we are willing to become permanent bond-servants to the most loving and just Master of all time. Remember, this is a loving, willful, public declaration of our servanthood to a master that we love. We have that opportunity now, everyday, let’s not squander this knowledge, let’s serve the Master as bond-servants like James.
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