Paul, a slave of God... Titus 1:1
Recently, I was arrested by the way that Paul began his epistle to Titus. Paul identified himself as a slave of God. Now I am aware that most translations use the tamer term, “servant” to translate the Greek word doulos there. And I am also aware of the horrible history of slavery over human history. But I think it is necessary for us easy-going, independent, and freedom-loving Christians living in these western societies to be jarred, significantly stunned, out of our faulty conceptions of our lives here on earth. This verse by Paul has the power to do it.
As I was teaching this verse to a men’s Bible study, I said these words: “If you asked a faithful slave back in those days this question: ‘So, what are your plans for the day?’, I believe they would look at you incredulously. They would answer, ‘Whatever the master wants me to do.'” No slave would awake with the sense of autonomy that we are very accustomed to in this free world of ours. That autonomy is comprised of a sense of absolute ownership over our time, our money, our bodies, our possessions, our choices. We make our own decisions, follow our own wills. As I was describing this, I realized that I hardly ever think like a slave of God. And I have a great deal of repenting to do as a result.
"We need to trust that total abandonment to the will of God moment by moment, day after day will produce the best possible life we could ever live."
Paul truly believed that he was not his own, that he was bought with the price of Christ’s blood. He openly taught that in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “You are not your own. You were bought at a price.” He taught the Ephesian elders that the church was bought with the blood of God (Acts 20:28). When I look at these verses, I begin to realize how much I need to heed these words, “You are not your own.” What does that mean? You are owned, possessed, ruled by another. Not autonomous, not free to do as I choose whenever I choose. Paul said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me” (Acts 20:24). All that mattered was to do the will of his owner, Jesus Christ. His body belonged to God, and he offered it up to God daily as a living sacrifice.
We westerners have been sold a bill of goods. We think we are free when we are slaves no matter what we do. The Bible reveals this plainly. According to Romans 6:16, we are either slaves to sin (Satan) or to righteousness (God). Being slaves to neither Satan nor God is not an option. Anyone who thinks he is slave to no one, a free man or woman, is just completely blind and deceived by the devil.
Now lest we tremble in horror at this teaching, we need to realize that Jesus is a perfectly good Master. His yoke of authority is easy, and his burden is light. Satan’s yoke is crushing, able to drag us down to hell. We Christians have been delivered from that hellish yoke of sin forever. But now we need to learn how to think more and more like slaves of God. We need to trust that total abandonment to the will of God moment by moment, day after day will produce the best possible life we could ever live. We need to stop thinking like autonomous people, saying “What would I like to do today? How shall I spend my money, my time?” Christ Jesus, the slave of God, is our ultimate role model here. Ask him to give you his mind and to teach you the freedom of perfect obedience.