Tuesday, March 14, 2006

40-Days to Servanthood: Day 10

There’s a difference between servanthood and slavery.

In the Greek of the New Testament, there are two main words for servanthood. Doulos and diakonos can both be translated as slave or minister, as well as servant.

But there’s a marked difference between the service offered by one who feels coerced into service--which is what you and I would label as slavery--and servanthood, which is rendered voluntarily. Slavery is a hateful thing. This is why Christians in England and America were in the forefront of the battle to abolish it in the nineteenth century.

But when one chooses to be a slave or a servant, beautiful things happen. We see this repeatedly in the Bible. In the book of Genesis, a slave of Abraham’s secured a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac, and thereby insured that God’s promise of a nation and a land from which the Savior would eventually be born many centuries later, would all come true. The slave reveled in his role of being useful to his master, grateful for his role in salvation history and for his master’s care and friendship.

The voluntary servant of God gets to play an important and irreplaceable part in the unfolding of God’s plans.

One of the most interesting people in the Bible is a woman named Dorcas. The book of Acts, which recounts the history of the Church from the day of Jesus’ ascension until about 65 AD, says that Dorcas “spent all her time doing good and helping the poor.” When she died, the whole city of Joppa where she lived mourned. In their grief, many of the town’s widows showed the apostle Peter the shirts and coats that Dorcas had sewn for them. Peter prayed that God would bring Dorcas back to life and when it happened, there was a celebration!

Dorcas spent her life in joyous service, not as a slave, but as a grateful follower of Jesus Christ.

There’s a difference between servanthood and slavery.

Bible Passage to Ponder: “She spent all her time doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36).

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