At one time or another we all have been or are dedicated to something, either positive or negative. Saul of Tarsus was dedicated to the Law, the feasts, and sacrifices that God laid out in His Word to Israel. But like all of the leaders in Israel, Saul went beyond his personal dedication “to God” and became dedicated to the Law as defined by the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees and interpreted by the Rabbis. He became a “slave” to the entire religious system that evolved out of the Pentateuch; the first 5 books of the Bible. He was a slave to the task of enforcing strict obedience to every facet and nuance of the Law… he was a Pharisee of Pharisees.
But then came the road to Damascus and all things changed… including Saul’s slavery. He became a slave once again but his slavery was of a different kind and we see it reflected in all of his writings.
Rom 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ…
On the surface it sounds like Paul just traded masters, going from the Law to Jesus. But there is a major difference revealed in not only how Paul referred to himself but what the term meant.
The word for bond-servant in Greek is dulos, meaning “to bind.” It refers to one who “gives himself up” to the will of another. It speaks of the slave who has served out his time under his master and is about to be set free. But he is so dedicated to his master that he chooses to stay with all of his family and continue serving. He is set apart from all the other slaves to reflect his status.
Ex 21:5-6 But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.
Paul became a “love slave” to Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. He was delivered from his bondage to the Law and given the opportunity to bond himself to his Creator. For Paul, there was no turning back, no thought of returning to his previous master, the Law. His choice was made and His ear was pierced by the grace, the mercy, and the love of Christ.
As the bride of Christ, we have made that same commitment in choosing to give up our freedom for the love of Jesus. But how are we serving Him? Are we, like Paul, totally dedicated to following the Holy Spirit as we walk out this life, or are we still allowing our own choices to enter into the process. That’s the question isn’t it?
Remembering the choice Paul made and how he subsequently lived his life, through all of the suffering, is our example. He never forgot who he was and whose he was. I need to remind myself that my ear has been pierced and live up to the precious gift I have been given… every day… one day at a time.