The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the relationship of Christians to their God, and each of them examines it from a different perspective to display different truths. One of the most prolific metaphors is that of God as master and his people as servants. We are servants of God. What does this mean? What are the implications? Here are seven things that are true of masters and servants and, therefore, true of God and his people.
A servant serves one master. A servant forsakes all others so he can focus the best of his attention on his master. He serves his master to such a degree that there is no room left for another. Likewise, the Christian leaves the service of sin and Satan to enroll himself in the service of God. He joyfully uses his life to serve that one good master. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
A servant is at the beck and call of his master. A servant is not free to do what he wants when he wants to do it, but must always do the will of his master. The Christian willingly puts himself at God’s disposal instead of his own. He longs to do God’s will, no matter the cost. He lives his life attentive to the voice and desires of God.
A servant is bound to his master. A servant is bound to his master through covenant, contract, or indenture. He cannot simply leave his service at a whim. Likewise, the Christian is bound to God through faith and baptism. “I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end,” says David (Psalm 119:112). We have bound ourselves to God through faith and public profession and should prefer to die than to break our promise.
A servant does his master’s work. A servant does his master’s work. The master is freed from many tasks and responsibilities because he has entrusted those to his servant and the servant performs them on his behalf. God calls us carry out his will and perform his works on earth. Paul said, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls,” which is the work the Lord had called him to (2 Corinthians 12:15). God calls us to labor for him in the time he gives us.
A servant follows his master. Where a master leads, his servant follows and where God leads, the Christian follows. Where others wander after the beast, the Christian follows in the steps of Christ (Revelation 13:3). He follows Christ through green pastures and dark valleys, through joy and through affliction. He even follows Christ as he takes up his cross (Luke 9:23), obediently remaining pure and holy in an evil world. Living in a wicked world cannot make a Christian become ungodly any more than swimming in salt water can make a fish become salty.
A servant is satisfied with what his master pays. A servant is satisfied with what his master gives him. If the master gives much, he is content, and if the master gives little, he is likewise content. The Christian echoes Paul who declared, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:12). The Christian who grumbles about his circumstances forgets that he is a servant. The person who receives even the least measure of God’s grace will die in his debt.
A servant defends the honor of his master. A servant will stand up for the honor of his master. He cannot tolerate hearing others speak ill of his master, whether to his face or behind his back. The Christian stands up for the honor of God, echoing the psalmist who said, “My zeal consumes me” (Psalm 119:139). It is a shameful thing to hear people speak against God, yet to remain silent.
This article was drawn from The Godly Man’s Picture which I’m reading with a whole crowd of people as part of my ongoing Reading Classics Together effort. If you’d like to join us, we’ve only just started. You can find all the information you need right here.
For those who are reading with me, please continue reading Chapter IV, “Showing the Characters of a Godly Man,” sections 7-9. Again, that’s a pretty good chunk of reading, though it’s a little less than last week. Then check back a week from today and I’ll have an article drawn from it.