Me a Slave? Never!


The sun was brightly shining that cold January day. I was running late, and my only thought was to get to my office as quickly as possible. As I approached a red light, I noticed a stalled truck on the right side of the road. I gave him a passing thought: "Poor guy!" But then my busy mind hurried on to how I was going to handle the problems that I knew this day at work would throw on my lap.

The sound of the knock on my window caused me to jump. It was the driver of the stalled vehicle: "Do you have a moment? My truck won't start and I just need someone to give me a boost. I have the booster cables!"

I looked at my watch. As late as it was, I didn't even have five minutes to spare. My boss would be frantic. I could lose my job over something like this. My response was somewhat stammered: "I'm sorry sir, but I can't today. I'm already late for work. I don't even have an extra five minutes …"

He interrupted me at this point: "I understand!" And then he walked back to the car stopped behind me.

I told myself that surely one of the next few cars that came by would have time to help this poor guy, but in reality, when the light turned green, I drove away feeling awful. I couldn't help thinking of the story of the Good Samaritan. Was I acting like the priest? Or the Levite? The ones who passed by on the other side of the road? (See Luke 10: 30-35) But how could I justify being late for work?

Just to ease my conscience, I mentioned the incident to my boss later on that day. As expected, he commended me for my decision: "I can't allow you to arrive late at work for any reason!" He said.

His confirmation didn't help to ease my guilt, however. I realized that it was God who had prompted me to help this man. I had ignored His voice. I had allowed myself to be a slave to time and circumstances. As a result, I hadn't allowed myself to take the time to help someone in need. I repented of my wrong choice, but it didn't change the fact that I had missed an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life.

How often do I follow my own agenda above the one my Heavenly Father has set out for me? All too often, when I ask God to sit in the driver's seat of the car of my life, I act like the back seat driver: "Don't turn right! Be careful, you may hit the car ahead. Slow down…"

Oh, there are times when I put my backseat driver's license back in my pocket. These are the times when I literally wrench the wheel out of God's hand! But where is my trust in God? Where is my obedience to the One who cares for me?

I admire the answer given by Mary when the angel Gabriel announced to her the shocking news that she would be pregnant through God's Holy Spirit: "'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said.'" (Luke 1:38 NIV)

Mary would face horrifying consequences if she, without a husband, was found to be pregnant. In those days, single moms were mocked, sworn at, and often even stoned. At the very least, she and her baby would be labeled gross sinners. She could even lose her fiancé. But none of this was as important as following God's will for her life.

Her response to the angel in the original Greek text has even a deeper meaning than the English one. It literally says: "I am the Lord's slave…" (doúlee Kuríou).

In today's democratic world, we have a hard time understanding the notion of being a slave to anyone. In Mary's day however, a slave's sole purpose was to please his master.

What, you may ask, is the difference between a slave and a servant? A servant does not always try to please. He's more concerned about earning his paycheck. If pleasing his boss makes him more money, he will do the required task without complaint, but his motivation will be to acquire something in return. Not so for a slave. He will please his master without expecting anything in return. And Mary wanted to please God without expecting anything in return!

I wish I could be like Mary. I wish I could serve my Lord and Master without expecting anything in return. Only then would I be able to serve without having to worry about being late for work or about not being able to complete all the items on my "to do" list. Only then would I truly be able to be called a follower of Jesus.

May I learn not to be concerned with human consequences. May I live for the sole purpose of pleasing my Lord and Savior. May my personal agenda begin to read as follows: To do what God requires of me today!

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matt 16:24 NIV)

Whose agenda will you follow? Who is in your driver's seat? Are you willing to become the Lord's slave?

Rob Chaffart

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