Monday, January 17, 2011


My first notions about what it means to be a servant were synonomous with what it means to be a slave. Both of those terms have taken on different and ever changing meanging for me over the years, but I still more often than not find myself linking servitude with bondage.

As a Bible study with my sister has coincided with the start of reading the Bible through in a year, I've been met once again with the opportunity to think through the meaning of servanthood. I've only begun to think, but the thoughts that are being connected have left me with a clearer picture on the meaning of the phrase "water is thicker than blood".

R.C. Sproul says in his book, Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow:

The motivation for Christian service is love for God. We serve not to earn salvation, but because Christ already has purchased salvation for us....We should be motivated to serve Him out of joy for what He has done for us, not out of grim obligation or as a means to gain heaven.

Elsewhere Sproul points out that God wants us to "invest in the future" and use our gifts "for the sake of the kingdom".

What a perfect Old Testament example God gives us in the story of Abraham's servant Eliezer. It is assumed that Eliezer is the one whom Abraham charges to find a wife for Isaac from his own land and his own kindred. It is said in Genesis 24 that this servant is the oldest of Abraham's household and in charge of all that Abraham possessed. These citings alone show that Eliezer was a faithful and trusted servant. Could Eliezer have been with Abraham since he and his family lived in Haran or even since Ur? Whether or not Eliezer had been with Abraham that long one thing is certain, he had an extensive family history and knew exactly what Abraham meant when he was charged to find a wife from among Abraham's land and kindred. It's pretty safe to assume that Abraham didn't give his servant a quick family history lesson and tutorial along with all the viable prospects for his son's marriage and then send Eliezer off hoping he'd get the job done right. No, if Eliezer was the most trusted and oldest of Abraham's household he most likely knew Abraham quite well. He probably could recite Abraham's family liniage all the way back to Adam. He could more than likely rattle off Abraham and Sarah's 4th-cousins-twice-removed without batting an eye. He probably could finish Abraham's sentences before Abraham himself could. He seems to be that kind of servant that defies all modern notions of what servants are supposed to be. Could he have bordered on friend?

The one place in all of Scripture where Eliezer's name is actually mentioned shows us that he was more than servant, more than friend. Genesis 15 says that Eliezer was heir to all that Abraham possessed. Before Ishmael. Before Isaac. When all hope of having a blood heir, a son, seemed lost, Abraham counted his most trusted, most faithful, longest standing member of his household as his heir.

The interesting thing is, Genesis 24 comes after Genesis 15. Common sense, I know. But when you look at it in terms of true servanthood we are reminded that Eliezer wasn't motivated by any prospective inheritance. The birth of a son to his master Abraham didn't deter him from his duty and purpose, rather it motivated his duty and purpose. He cared so deeply for his master that he was motivated to invest in the future, to use his gifts of service for the sake of the kingdom.

What a picture of selfless servanthood. What a picture of our role as servants of Christ, heirs of His great and precious promises.


Mer said...

This is an awesome post.

Amy said...

Thanks, Mer. It's a pretty incredible study.