In our last stretch of reading in the book of Joshua, we encounter one of the more famous quotes of Joshua that Christians love and love to hold high. It is found in Joshua 24:15. To give you a reminder of the context, let’s look again at verses 14 and 15:
Joshua 24:14-15 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
That last part of verse 15 says, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
This is probably one of the most popular verses painted or hung on the walls of Christian homes that there is.
It is a great proclamation of intent to join Joshua in his fervor to dedicate his life and family to the service of our good God.
I can’t help but wonder if for the majority of the homes where that verse is posted, that’s where the fervor ends. In other words, to what extent are those households truly defined by and daily driven by serving the Lord God with their lives? How much of their making and spending their money looks like a family of servants to God, how much of their daily priorities and activities reflect a life of service to God?
If you were to tour a multi-million-dollar American estate or a massive residence of a king in a foreign land, you would likely find the living quarters or home on site where the servants of that estate live. What would we find in daily priorities or activities of that servant family of the lord of the manor?
Hopefully you see what I am getting at. Is the proclamation that we will serve the Lord mostly a lofty idea of devotion, or is it the actual reality of devotion of our homes and lifestyle? Do we wake up with the mindset of a servant? Don’t picture a begrudging servant who hates his master; picture a servant who is elated to get to be in direct service of the King. But picture what that lifestyle would look like. It is not a daily pursuit to build one’s own kingdom but a devoted pursuit to serve and build the kingdom of the King! The goal is not to become independent, but it is a goal that loves to be dependent on the King and His provision and His employment of our family. It is a mindset that says, “There is no higher calling or goal of my life then to be a servant of the most high King.”
The Apostle Paul joined Joshua in his fervor to be a servant of the King. Throughout his epistles, the Apostle Paul describes his relationship to Christ as one of servant to master (Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 4:1; Gal. 1:10).
In addition to the name Christian, the Bible uses a host of other terms to name the followers of Jesus: beloved, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the chosen, the Church, disciples, the elect, friends, heirs, household of God, saints, sheep, sons of God, and more. All of these descriptions--each in its own unique way--help us to understand what it means to be a Christian.
But the Bible uses one metaphor and title more frequently than any of these above. It is one you might not expect, but it is absolutely critical for understanding what it means to follow Jesus. It is the title of a servant or slave.
Time and time again throughout the pages of Scripture, believers are referred to as slaves of God and slaves of Christ. In fact, whereas the outside world called them Christians, the earliest of believers repeatedly referred to themselves in the New Testament as the Lord's slaves. For them, the two ideas were synonymous. To be a Christian was to be a slave of Christ.
The New Testament understanding of the believer's relationship to Christ is that He is the Master and Owner, and we are His possession. He is the King, the Lord, and the Son of God. We are His subjects and His subordinates. In a word, we are His slaves. The gospel is not simply an invitation to become Christ's benefactor; it is a mandate to become His slave.
The word for slave we see used throughout the English Bible text we read from is the Greek word “doulos.” This is a primary title the Bible gives to Christians: doulo= slaves. The word doulos is used 124 times in the original Bible text, but often times it is unfortunately translated into English as the word “servant.” This shouldn’t be the case.
What is off is “doulos” is not a primary Greek word for servant; rather, there are many words in Greek more specific for the word servant.
While both servant and salve indicate service-hood, the difference between the two words is big in that servants are hired workers, but salves are owned by their master.
So we can see why God inspired the title of duolos/slave to be so common; we are servants, but we are more than that: we are slaves, His slaves. He owns us; our lives are for Him.
We need to embrace that a life of submission is much of what a godly life and the Christian life is about at its core.
True Christianity is not about adding Jesus to my life. Instead, it is about devoting myself completely to Him — submitting wholly to His will and seeking to please Him above all else. It demands dying to self and following the Master, no matter what the cost. In other words, to be a Christian is to be Christ’s slave. -John MacArthur, Slave, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010) 22.
Philippians 2:6-8 [Jesus] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to serve us and sacrifice Himself--to pay for our freedom, our ransom.
I love how Pastor David Platt says this: “He took on a robe of human flesh and took all of your sinful filth, guilt and shame upon Himself. He went to the cross, and He paid the price. He stood in your place as your servant, so that you could be redeemed. This word ‘redeemed’ is a picture of slavery. When we talk about redemption, redemption is to buy something, to pay a redemption price.”
The truth is, before Christ was Savior and Lord, you and I were slaves to sin.
We were in “the snare of the devil.” We were in his grasp, and Christ our God came, and He set us free from the bondage of sin. This is the good news; we are empowered to honor God in righteousness in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Before we are given saving faith, we are enslaved to sin, and we will choose to sin, because it is all we know; it is all our nature is inclined to.
After we are given saving faith, we are enslaved to Christ, and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to grow in obedience to God and fight sin. The key is we are no longer enslaved to sin in Christ. Look at Romans 6:18 again! We “have become SLAVES of righteousness!” Slaves of Jesus Christ, the righteous One!
He paid the price with His life, with His death on the cross, with His resurrection from the grave, so that you could be set free from sin and become a son, a daughter of God. That’s THE good news! → Our Master humbled Himself!
Now watch this: Our Master humbled Himself, so in Christ, we gladly become His slaves.
Paul got this, Peter got this, and so must we! It is our utter joy to be mastered by Jesus our LORD.
Romans 1:6 says basically that THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY is “to BELONG to Jesus!”
We belong to Him! For His glory!
1 Cor. 6:19-20 (NLT) You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your life.
This means my money is Jesus’ money, my time is Jesus’ time, my days are Jesus’ days, my body is Jesus’ body! My whole life--everything about me--is owned by and under the Lordship of Jesus!
All you are, all you have is God’s.
My kids are God’s kids; my house is God’s house; my days are God’s days.
And when we really begin to get this, we begin to understand the amazing, undeniable privilege it is to BE HIS, and it changes how we manage our time, our talent, and our treasures--everything. We begin to understand why it is a great thing to be slaves of Jesus.
It helps me begin to realize I am not building my kingdom; I am building His Kingdom for His GLORY!
Now, you must see that while He owns us and all of our lives are for Him and His glory, this is the opposite of being owned by sin and death and addiction and anything else.
We are loved. We have been fought for and bled for, and the pages of history are about our rescue by God.
Listen to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
We are His people--a people of His own possession.
Church! This is a greatest privilege in this life.
Now, one last emphasis on the life we are to live as slaves, and we find it in the next few verses.
If we are the joyful slave, then God is the loving master! A slave lives his/her life for the master. The master’s purposes have become the slave’s purposes. The master’s desires have become the slave’s desires. The master’s plans have become the slave’s plans. This is a key part of our growth and maturity in Christ. Are you more and more in love with the ways and commands of God and less and less interested in driving your own life by your own desires? It becomes our joy to totally submit to God as Master! Is this your view of who He is and who we are in response? This submission spills over into the way He commands us to be submissive in our exile time on earth too.
Look at how we are to live free within our slavery and service to Christ:
1 Peter 2:16-20 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
Christians, we are to wake up every day and get to work on time and bring our very best, because we represent Jesus! This is not something we get to just shirk. This is His purpose for us in this time and place! Let me show why:
1 Peter 2:21b because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
What is the example Jesus has given us? To live honorable, submissive, slave lives!
The gospel is not just about setting you free; it is bigger than that. It is about empowering you to live your entire life for HIS GLORY forever. To PROCLAIM THE EXCELLENCIES of GOD!
I pray that this study gives you a sweet and potent reboot in how you see this verse in Joshua 14:15 but more importantly how you live it every day that the King gives you on this earth to serve His mighty name.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”