Thursday, May 31, 2007

The difference between a servant and a servant

This isn't going to be a deep, theological look at the Greek definition of the words "servant," "bondservant" and "maidservant," which are found in the New Testament. This is just a basic look at the difference between an involuntary servant and a voluntary servant.

I've heard a lot of talk in church over the years that says that when we come to Christ, we become His servants "by default." In other words, now that we're in Christ, we're to "get busy serving Him!" No if's, and's or but's. At first, I really went along with this. Sometimes I thought I was doing a good job serving Him! But other times (most of the time), I felt like I fell so very short of the mark. I would always think, during those low times when I felt I fell so short, that "some day" I'm going to be a mighty servant of Jesus! I'll just keep praying and keep disciplining myself. I'll keep taking notes in church about how to be a wonderful servant. And so on and so on. I kept going through this cycle of a high point here and there, followed by long periods of being in low points.

All along, something didn't seem right, but I didn't know what it was. I knew that Jesus had said, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15). But then I would see Paul calling himself a bondservant of Jesus, and I would see other places in the Bible where Christians are called "servants," and I just didn't get it.

Again, not to get deep here, but just to point out that one thing I've come to learn is that much of this has to do with the difference between being a forced slave/servant, and being a child of God - and a friend of God - who has come to love his Savior, his Friend, his "older Brother" Jesus, and who willingly puts himself in a Master/Servant relationship with Him. Jesus' next sentence, following the above verse, puts it in perspective. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." (John 15:16)

If we're to live out the dreams and desires that God has placed in our hearts, or even if we're in a place where we can't really sense any dreams or desires in our hearts from God, then the answer isn't to force ourselves to just get out there and serve Him. Instead, we simply put our focus on our Father, our Friend, our Savior, our Lover. We realize that it's not about us choosing to try to bear fruit for Him, but He's chosen us to bear His fruit. We submit to Him, not to score points with Him or in an attempt to maintain some standard of Christian living. But rather, as we grow more and more in His love and grace, and in the understanding that we're His friends, not His involuntary servants, it becomes more and more of a desire for us to submit to Him so that His wonderful fruit - which is fruit that lasts - is what comes out of our lives. This real fruit comes out of our union with Him, rather than it being self-fabricated fruit coming out of our own efforts to serve Him.


  1. Wow! go Joel I know this is not Joel it is the Holy Spirit living through you. Joel that is awesome, may I use this over on the blog, naming it "a willing servant is a friend" and penning it from you Joel as the willing friend

  2. Sure, that would be great, Howard. :)

  3. Wow!
    This Truth was helpful. Thanks joel