Posts Tagged ‘Galatians 5:13’

Paradox: Free to serve

May 22, 2018

Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2018 brings to mind one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Bible, an extraordinary paradox that continues to baffle many of those who encounter the duality of being free yet choosing to serve, the notable distinction between “bond and free.” One of the scriptures that highlights the paradox of being free yet choosing to serve is found in Galatians 5:13 (NKJV):

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

In discussing the two concepts of freedom and serving one another, one encounters a most provocative portrayal translated from the Greek word doulos, meaning “servant”, “bond servant,” or “bond-slave,” or “slave.” In fact, the verb “to serve” in Galatians 5:13 is derived from the same Greek word and has been translated “to be a slave, to serve or render service or serving.”

Paul reiterates the message that though as a believer he is free in Christ, yet he chooses to serve others:

1 Corinthians 9:19 (AMP):

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].

As believers the state or condition whereby we have been called to salvation is liberty or freedom: freedom from the yoke of bondage, freedom from the chains that bind us in sin. We are, however, not to use our freedom as an occasion for the flesh or as an excuse or pretext for indulging our selfish desires. Instead, we are to be servants, those bound by love to serve one another.

In the midst of our times that preclude a super-abundant harvest season, we must learn

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again
with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5, 6

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,
To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give
All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part
To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,
For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.
The legacy that fulfills God’s will lives beyond
The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain.
This precious token of our covenant, the bond
Of devotion to the Master, perfected love
Is shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in peace
That passes understanding, flowing from above.
As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.
Freely we have received that we might come to know
The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

The Verse of the Day also brings to mind once more the significance of the metaphor of the “servant” or “bond-slave” translated from the previously mentioned Greek term “doulos.” The portrayal of this Biblical figure has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America. In the early 1970s or thereabout, I was introduced to the term which provided the original inspiration for an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave” which has been re-posted along with poetry and music videos related to the term. Click here to access a link to that entry that might be of interest.

Without question, “to serve” is one of the most powerful verbs in the English language. Listen to this excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct,” unforgettable sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who unfolds the beauty and simplicity in the words “To serve.”

We conclude with Frontline Music offering a Galatians Meditation based on Galatians 5:13-15 which includes the Verse of the Day:

Serve one another in love

May 22, 2017

Taken from Galatians 5:13 in the Amplified Bible, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2017 highlights the paradox between freedom and servitude:

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

Footnotes in Bible Gateway.com offer the following explanations:

The “sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness)” literally means “the flesh.”

The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another.

The New Living Translation renders the Verse of the Day this way:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

A related verse is found in also in the New Living Translation:

1 Peter 4:10

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

The basin and towel are symbolic of the essence of servanthood.

In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of one of my favorite passages regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, who revealed so clearly the heart of a bond servant when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13.

A number of years ago, my wife and I received a special Christmas gift: a statue of Christ washing one of his disciples’ feet with the inscription John chapter 13 embossed on the base. I was deeply moved when I opened the package and discovered such a priceless gift inside. Here is a replica of the sculpture that we received.

Nowhere is this portrait of a true servant of the Lord more vividly revealed than in the account where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples in John 13. This very moving passage, in part, inspired this poem:

Let Me Wash Your Feet
John 13:4-5, 19

As Jesus put off his garments and wrapped a towel
around himself,
So I lay aside my pride with nothing to hide and
expose myself.
As a humble servant I long to wash your feet.
You could yourself
Perform this deed of loving service, but let me
Serve you myself.
To allow me to wash your feet is to bless me,
as Christ himself
Blessed the Twelve before he departed from this earth.
You have yourself
The key to the door of blessing for you and me:
As Jesus took
Upon himself
The servant’s form
That I myself
Might freely give
To you yourself,
So I ask you
As Christ himself
Still asks of me,
So I ask you to
Let me to wash your feet.

“The Basin and the Towel,” musical composition by Michael Card, also portrays this moving account of John 13 in this video:

“To Serve” is a powerful verb. Listen to this excerpt from the classic sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who opens the door to vast possibilities for greatness for those who choose to serve.

We conclude with Frontline Music offering a Galatians Meditation based on Galatians 5:13-15:

Beyond race relations: To serve

July 27, 2016

Galatians-5-13

In recent blog posts instead of examining the Verse of the Day, we have been continuing  the series based on the concept “It’s all about relationships,” the theme from a conference attended three years that related seven principles that can be universally applied to “launch, challenge, and grow relationships.” These principles can be universally applied in achieving and maintaining successful relationships, but they can also be specifically applied in an area of race relations, a critically important area in America today.

These seven principles are related to verbs that connote action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another.” The reciprocal pronoun used in the plural carries the notion of a group of people acting upon themselves, i.e., upon one another. For example, we are to “love another and so forth. . .”

1) Love

2) Honor

3)  Forgive

4)  Encourage

5)  Admonish

6)  Serve

7)  Make peace

Earlier posts have discussed the first five principles, and today we will look at the sixth.

Serve one another

One of the most striking facets of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was his taking upon himself the form of a servant who did not come into the world to be served but to serve. In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of a teachable moment in the ministry of Jesus Christ, who put off his robe and girded himself with a towel, portraying so clearly the heart of a true servant or bond slave when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13.12-15:

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

Elsewhere in the Scriptures we find similar exhortations to serve one another:

Galatians 5:13 in the New Living Translation:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

As believers, we have been blessed with a wide range of spiritual abilities or talents, as 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT) confirms and states how they should be used:

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

To serve in its most literal sense means to perform the duties of a servant or bond slave; in our case we serve one another from a position of “voluntary servitude.” We exercise our freedom in Christ Jesus and choose to serve one another. To serve is not to assume the lowest position in the eyes of God, but those who aspire to serve are recognized as great. In Matthew 20:25-27 Jesus Christ reiterates this point:

25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—

For a definition of what it means to serve, listen to this excerpt from the classic sermon “The Drum Major Instinct” by Dr. Martin Luther King, who speaks of vast possibilities for greatness for those who choose “to serve.”

As believers we are called upon to serve, we as we are ever challenged to sow as well, expressed in this way:

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth weeping,

Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again

with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5,6

 

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,

To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give

All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part

To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,

For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.

The legacy of God’s will fulfilled lives beyond

This brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain:

This precious token of our covenant, the bond

Of devotion to the Master, perfected love

Shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in His peace

That passes understanding, flowing from above.

As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.

Freely we have received that we might come to know

The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

 

As believers, we respond to the call and demonstrate our choice:

To render service to, to act as a bond slave who serves

And joyfully gives advantage to the one being served,

So use your freedom to serve one another in love.

We conclude with the song “Be Devoted” by Acapella who encourage believers to “serve one another.”

 

 

 

 

 

To serve

May 22, 2016

Galatians-5-13

The Verse of the Day for May 22, 2016 brings to mind one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Bible, an extraordinary paradox that continues to baffle all those who encounter the duality of freedom and servanthood, the distinction between “bond and free.” One of the scriptures that highlights the paradox of being free yet choosing to serve is found in Galatians 5:13 (AMP):

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another.

The New Living Translation offers this rendering:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

In discussing the two concepts of freedom and serving one another, one encounters a most provocative, related term translated from the Greek word doulos, meaning “servant”, “bond servant,” or “bond-slave,” or “slave.” In fact, the verb “to serve” in Galatians 5:13 is derived from the Greek word doulos and has been translated “to be a slave, to serve or render service or serving.”
Paul reiterates the message that though as a believer he is free in Christ, yet he chooses to serve others:

1 Corinthians 9:19 (AMP):

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ].

As believers the state or condition whereby we have been called to salvation is liberty or freedom: freedom from the yoke of bondage, freedom from the chains that bind us in sin. We are, however, not to use our freedom as an occasion for the flesh or as an excuse or pretext for indulging our selfish desires. Instead, we are to be servants, those bound by love to serve one another.
In the midst of our times that preclude a super-abundant harvest season, we must learn

To Serve and To Sow

Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again
with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5, 6

We learn to serve and to sow with a joyful heart,
To pour from the fountain of our souls and to give
All our strength to the Lord’s work and to do our part
To complete each task, to build that the Word might live,
For only deeds done for the sake of Christ remain.
The legacy that fulfills God’s will lives beyond
The brief journey of our days filled with joy and pain.
This precious token of our covenant, the bond
Of devotion to the Master, perfected love
Is shed abroad in our hearts, enfolded in peace
That passes understanding, flowing from above.
As we plant and water, our God gives the increase.
Freely we have received that we might come to know
The love of God, as we learn to serve and to sow.

The Verse of the Day brought to mind once more the significance of the metaphor of the “servant” or “bond-slave” as revealed in the Scriptures. The portrayal of this Biblical figure has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America. In the early 1970s or thereabout, I was introduced to the previously mentioned Greek term “doulos.” In 1975 I produced an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave.” In 1978 while completing my Master’s thesis, I explored the subject in light of Paul’s literary style in the Church Epistles. I went on to complete my Ph.D. in 1986 with a dissertation entitled Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets. A year ago, I re-posted a blog here at “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe” which also featured the original article along with poetry and music videos related to the term “doulos.” Click here to access a link to that entry that might be of interest.

Without question, “to serve” is one of the most powerful verbs in the English language. Listen to this excerpt from “The Drum Major Instinct,” unforgettable sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, who unfolds the beauty and simplicity in the words “To serve.”

Doulos: Free to serve

January 8, 2011

Galatians-5-13Taken from Galatians 5:13 in the New Living Translation, the Verse of the Day for May 22, 2015 highlights the paradox between freedom and servitude:

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

This verse and other related scriptures bring to mind the idea of the servant or slave who has been set free. In the early 70s or thereabout, I was introduced to the Greek term “doulos”, translated servant or more literally “bondslave,” one of the most misunderstood concepts found in the Scriptures. The portrayal of the servant or slave, as revealed in the Bible has particular significance to me for a number of reasons, aside from my being a descendant of slaves brought from Africa to America.

In 1975 I produced an article “Doulos: A Different View of the Slave.” In 1978 while completing my Master’s thesis, I explored the subject in light of Paul’s literary style in the Church Epistles. I went on to complete my Ph.D. in 1986 with a dissertation entitled Portrait of the Bondslave in the Bible: Slavery and Freedom in the Works of Four Afro-American Poets. Four years ago, I posted a blog at “Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe” that I am revising and re-posting in celebration of the original article published 40 years ago.

Being a doulos involves a deep commitment to one’s Lord and Master.

The term doulos has become an intricate part of my life since I first learned of the concept of the “bond servant” or “bond slave” back in the early 70s. Last year I celebrated the 35th anniversary of my publishing an article entitled “Doulos: A Different View of a Slave.” As used in the Bible, doulos is a metaphor that I have personalized and internalized. I explored the concept in Master’s thesis which looked at the literary style of Paul in the Church Epistles, where he opens the Book of Romans with his “calling card”: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle (note the order).”  In my Ph.D. dissertation I looked at the metaphor of the “servant” or “bond slave” in the Bible and in the works of four African American poets who were influenced by the Bible. Beyond that, the concept is deeply embedded into my soul, in that it has become the essence of who I am. I attempt to express that essence in this poem:

More Than Metaphor

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,

separated to the gospel of God

Romans 1:1

To capture my essence I strive to find a word,

Phrase, image or mind picture to bring clarity,

To express my deep yearning for intimacy.

Like Paul, my calling card reads: “servant of the Lord.”

Each fiber of my being and each emotion

Pulsates with lifeblood flowing from a servant’s heart.

As I endeavor to learn and live to impart

The joy of serving with pure-hearted devotion,

I pledge to work in voluntary servitude,

As I fix my eyes, looking unto my Lord’s hands,

To heed His Word and to do more than He commands,

To serve with love from a heart filled with gratitude.

Beyond a single concept, more than metaphor

Is this branded bondslave, who embodies “the more.

The basin and towel are symbolic of the essence of servanthood as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 13.

In discussing this topic of the servant or bond slave, an image almost immediately comes to mind: a basin and a towel, representative of one of my favorite passages regarding the ministry of Jesus Christ, who revealed so clearly the heart of a bond servant when he washed the disciples’ feet in the account from John 13. This very moving excerpt inspired another related poem:

Let Me Wash Your Feet

            John 13:4-5, 19

As Jesus put off his garments and wrapped a towel

around himself,

So I lay aside my pride with nothing to hide and

expose myself.

As a humble servant I long to wash your feet.

You could yourself

Perform this deed of loving service, but let me

Serve you myself.

To allow me to wash your feet is to bless me,

as Christ himself

Blessed the Twelve before he departed from this earth.

You have yourself

The key to the door of blessing for you and me:

As Jesus took

Upon himself

The servant’s form

That I myself

Might freely give

To you yourself,

So I ask you

As Christ himself

Still asks of me,

So I ask you to

Let me to wash your feet.

One of the ancient practices associated with bond servants in the Bible is the year of the Jubilee, the Old Testament practice whereby the 50th year was a special sabbatical period when Hebrew slaves were released from their obligation of servitude, and they were free to leave their masters and go out on their own. These servants could by their freedom of will choose to serve their masters for the rest of their lives in light of the close relationship they had established. On my 50th birthday, I wrote “This Year of My Jubilee” which alludes to this Old Testament practice:

This Year of My Jubilee

Exodus 21:1-6

Leviticus 25:1-17 

 

I stand alone, clothed only with the wind

At the end of my seventh sabbath year.

Gathering of blessings now flow through my mind

As the shofar’s call resounds in my ear

To proclaim this year of my jubilee.

I reflect upon the wonders of this grace

Wherein I stand, a bondslave now made free.

In this golden moment as I embrace

The truth and pledge to love as you command,

Pierce my ear–place your brand upon my soul.

Enlighten me so I may understand

That to run to serve is life’s highest goal.

Unfold before me pleasures of your ways

And seal my vows to serve you all my days.

Once more Michael Card has the perfect song entitled “Jubilee” to accompany this poem.

I will conclude this entry by posting a PDF of the original article “Doulos: A Different View of a Slave” which was first published in 1975. Accompanying the article is a letter to  Apostle Thamo Naidoo to whom I sent the original article along with two of the poems posted above: “More Than Metaphor” and “This Year of My Jubilee.” I am grateful to my beloved Brother Lester Wiley Carver, who encouraged me to post the article. I trust that it will minister to all who read it. I welcome any comments or thoughts that this post might have inspired.

Before reading the article, listen to a powerful song written and performed by Dean Ellenwood, who captures the depth of commitment embodied in the individual called of God to be a  bondslave, a true Doulos. 

Doulos

Doulos: A Different View of a Slave

When a believer accepts Jesus Christ as Lord, that individual assumes the position of a “servant” or “bondslave”–a doulos