Tag Archive: Self Serving



“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” -Romans 6:18

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Who or what is your master? Like it or not, we all chase after or focus on something, and it is this same something which dictates or determines our actions, thoughts, goals or desires. Man tends to think he is the master over his own life, but this isn’t the case. Man can choose what has dominion over him, this much is true, but once it is decided, it is sealed, and that individual becomes a slave to that very thing.

Relative recent history gives the term, “slave,” a certain infamy and therefore power, in a very negative sense. Does Paul mean “slave” with the same sort of negative connotation that it has today? I argue not, but let us first understand that slavery in the Scripture, is very different from those, “recent,” examples that blot our history, particularly that of the western tradition. Indeed, much slavery included in the Bible concerns the repayment of debts. Yet, now, Christ has paid our debt in full, that by our faith in Him, it may be credited to us as righteousness. Furthermore, Christ doesn’t refer to us as slaves, but rather, sons, daughters, and even, friends.

Paul indicates repeatedly in his letters, that we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. Yet, if we are slaves to righteousness, aren’t we then slaves to God? Furthermore, if this is the case, then can’t it be said that God has no more morality than any of those southern plantation owners, who “employed,” slaves in early American history?

In actuality, the answer is a resounding no! For although Paul uses the word, he does so to put it in, “human terms.” When we examine the slavery mentioned by Paul and juxtapose it with the slavery of history, we find a key difference, and, in fact, it is Christ Himself who is the key that unlocks the shackles that bind our hands and feet, setting us free!

When we look at the contemporary conception of the institution of slavery, we find it not only terrible, but completely self-serving. Though slavery is for the benefit of one, the land owner, Christ came for the benefit of many. In Christ we do serve God, but we too are rewarded in and by our efforts, We find that we benefit in being slaves to righteousness, which negates slavery altogether. In addition, we find others benefit in our being “slaves” to this righteousness, and we are given eternal life and glorify God with our very lives.

Sin is the true slavery, and more in tune with the current view of slavery then the antithesis. For though man’s carnal desires may be satisfied in short term, there is no true benefit, only pacification. What is true is what is eternal. Live for righteousness that you may be a slave no longer, live for Christ. Through sin came pain, death, and misery, but through Christ, we gain contentment, life, and joy. Glory be to God who through His Son broke us out of the bonds and freed us from sin and the wage that comes from it, death.


“Looking at His disciples, He said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.'”

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If one has ears to hear, let him hear. Many verses containing the word of Christ, and indeed throughout the Bible, contain some passages that may look curious or downright scary at first glance. Furthermore, they may seem to contradict the rest of what scripture says, though with closer inspection this isn’t the case. Although this section provided me with a lot of comfort, it also alarmed me somewhat.

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It seemed to say that to follow Christ I had to be in a constant state of misery. This obviously isn’t the case. When we look at the example of Paul for instance, we find that he was content no matter what he lacked or what hardships he faced. As he says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions in difficulties.” Instead, he had a faith that produced a harvest of contentment and joy no matter what the circumstance. So what is Jesus saying here? Does it contradict the joy that Paul, the apostles, and we have? Not at all, for even Christ Himself tells us to rejoice and “leap for joy” in verse 23.

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"San Paolo," by Pompeo Batoni. oil on canvas, c. 1742

2 Corinthians 5:4 says:

“For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (See my Note, “On Being Swallowed up by Life”)

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Paul both groans and delights. Using these scriptures, what Christ really means in the aforementioned passage in Luke becomes clear. A Christian is not supposed to be void of laughter, or even prosperity. A Christian is warned in Romans 12:2 to, “not conform to the pattern of this world.” Though we are in the world we are not of the world, for now our eyes are focused on Christ. Our contentment rests not in the things of this world, and those activities and materials man chases after to pacify himself, but rather it rests on Christ. This being the case we ache, or groan, to be in our heavenly dwelling and away from the body and it’s meaningless desires, for we know the things of God are not momentary like those things people find “contentment” in within the world, but rather everlasting and more glorious than anything currently made up of the physical or based upon it.

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We should not find contentment or delight in mere things, for as all physicality will disappear to be renewed, so will those things based upon material. In addition, our happiness should not be dependent on man. If one constantly chases after approval of man, then he shifts more often than shadows. Such a person is deceptive to both himself and those he seeks approval from. Contentment in this is just as fleeting, for man’s support will vanish from you at anytime. The reliability of superficial friendships is a farce and often self-serving, ironically to both parties. As it is said, no one can serve two masters.

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Serve God, fix your eyes on His son and you will gain an eternal contentment and joy that is based on the everlasting, not given to decay and abandonment like the things of this world, but instead He who promises to carry you through all things. As Christians we will have heartache, hardships, and insults, but lo, how fleeting these things are, for when the physical as we know it now ceases to be, weeping will be transformed into joy, hunger to satisfaction, exclusion to inclusion, and a lack of possession into great riches within the Kingdom. To this we await and look forward to.

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“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3

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"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.

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Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.

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Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.

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In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.

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"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.

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"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.

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Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.

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Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.

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