Today's Little Lift
by Jim Bullington
There is a play on words in the following text; miss it and miss the reasoning of the grand apostle. It is somewhat obscured by the English, but if you look closely, you can spot it (Hint: It involves the word serve or a form of the word). “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3.22-24).
There are three usages of the word serve in the text; these usages are bondservants, eyeservice, and serve. Bondservant is another word for slave; eyeservice is slavery to the task of pleasing others; the final usage of the term is service to the Lord Christ. The concept of service that is inherent in the Greek word in this text is that of a master/servant relationship. For there to be a servant, there must be a master in the true sense of the word. This is important in order to understand the play on words here.
To deny that we each have a master is to deny the obvious. Whether we are properly called slaves or not is not relevant; we are all slaves to someone or something. The objective here is to point out the proper “pecking order” that must exist if we are to be pleasing to the Lord [Master] Jesus Christ. Bondservants are to obey their master [lord] in mundane things, but the highest calling is to obey THE MASTER [LORD] of all, Jesus Christ.
Those who offer eyeservice are slaves to their own desire to please others even if it means bending the rules. They offer service which they know the master would not accept if he/she knew the particulars of their service. Most people do not like to be patronized in a relationship, but that is the exact modus operandi of eyeservice. The master in such cases is one's own desire to please even if it means the compromising of self and the principles for which one professes to stand. The person who engages in eyeservice plays a lose-lose game all the time. Even if he wins, he loses his own dignity and sells himself for a fleeting mess of pottage.
The Lord Christ is the only Master that counts in the eternal courts of heaven. What others think will be of absolutely no consequence in that final judgment arena. That is the crux of this entire section of scripture. We have masters, but none of them are equal to THE Master. We are all servants; our charge is to choose our Master wisely. By doing so, we effect not only a good life here upon this earth but also stand to receive the reward that only the faithful inherit.
THE Master said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6.24). The two masters in this text are equal in rank, but unequal in devotion by the servant. In other words, it is impossible to revere two people exactly the same; when the time to choose comes, one will always outshine the other. For that reason, we cannot serve two masters. However, THE Master is not of equal rank with other masters. Paul's admonition in Colossians 3 is for us to see that it is alright to serve a master (lower case m) as long as we understand that in so doing, we must serve the Master (uppercase M). THE Master's directions must always trump the directions of a master!
The seemingly mundane choices we make each and every day define our choice of a master. Even when we do not make the connection, it is still there. For instance, when we choose to perform our jobs in a lackadaisical manner, we choose a master, not THE Master. Servants of Jesus must always see Him for who He is, THE Lord [Master] Christ!
1. List the three serves/servants in today's text.
2. Note the word master and Lord in the text. What is the difference, if any, in the words?
3. Why can man not serve two master according to Jesus?
4. How do our everyday choices reflect our choice between master and Master?
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