Last time we considered the calling of Christians who are circumcised or uncircumcised (I Cor. 7:18-19); this time we turn to believers who are "servants," literally "slaves," those in the most degrading and restricted of vocations (21-23).
Note what the Holy Spirit does not say: "Christian slaves, rise up against your masters! Slavery is per se sinful; the new order has come; shake off all servitude and unite for slave rights!" Instead, we read, "care not for it" (21). "Do not worry or fret or plot your escape, as if being a slave is absolutely unbearable and inconsistent with the Christian life!" Why? "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant" (22). A Christian slave is Christ’s freeman—free from Satan, sin and hell. He is free to serve God in Christ, for he knows the truth and the truth has made him free (John 8:32). Though physically he is a slave, spiritually he has the greatest freedom in the world. So do not be anxious about being a slave (I Cor. 7:21)! Only the gospel can come with an ethic like this!
On the other hand, a Christian who is a free citizen (as most News readers are) is Christ’s slave (22). For we are not our own but belong to Jesus Christ, to do His bidding. Our master is no tyrant; He is good and gracious to us.
Does this imply that if a man is a slave when he is effectually called that he must stay this way all his life? "but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather" (21). There are various ways whereby a slave can be set free: by his master’s will and testament, by being purchased with money (either his or his friends), as a reward for faithful service, etc. The apostle does not merely say to a Christian slave "take" your freedom but "use" it (24). Use your greater liberty for the service of Jesus Christ and not merely for your own pleasure.
Whatever your vocation, believer, you are "bought with a price," the blood of Christ (23). Therefore, "be not ... the servants of men" (23), as "menpleasers;" work not merely to satisfy your boss but serve the Lord with a single heart (Col. 3:22). Reject the worldly wisdom of unbelievers that earthly freedom is the main thing. Rather, consider all things, including your vocation, in the light of your effectual call and redemption in Christ and your spiritual freedom in Him. We must think this way in all our circumstances, even if we are earthly slaves and treated very badly. This glorifies Almighty God and enables us to persevere in all our difficulties, especially in our workplaces, though very few of us suffer to the degree of the Christian slaves in I Peter 2:18-25.
- Volume: 10
- Issue: 14
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851