Paul in the opening verses of Romans calls himself a bond-servant of Christ. In early biblical time, under Mosaic Law, a man that became indebted by borrowing money became the property of the creditor and had to work for his master until the loan was fully paid.
This financial arrangement gave the creditor great power over the debtor. Some masters were cruel and evil, mistreating their slaves and taking advantage of people under their control. Others were kind and merciful, asking only for a fair days work in exchange for a portion of the debt to be written off.
In the Jewish tradition, at the end of seven years, a slave was set free. Freed from his debt he could leave and be free from any bondage.
However, some slaves that were indebted to loving masters did not want to leave. Their slave owners were caring for their needs and providing safety for the slave’s family. There was security in knowing their household would not go hungry, and they could stay in a warm house, and their children be clothed. It was these slaves who at the end of the seven years would choose not to leave their master but to become a permanent slave to their master, by choice, a bondservant.
A new bond-slave would go to the tabernacle and a priest would mark the ear of a servant with a hole to signify the willing servant has become a bond-slave to his master forever. It was a mark that revealed the character of the owner.
As I think about my own life, I rarely think of myself as a bond-slave and I think this is unfortunate because I have made a choice too.
I have found a Master who is all loving, who accepts me, is patient with my flaws and shortcomings, and who blesses me beyond what I deserve. He has paid my sin debt and set me free. I in turn have chosen to return to my Master and become His bond-slave. There is no marking on my body to identify me as His, but my heart has been branded by His crown of thorns and His cross.
As I consider the work Bright Hope is doing to help young women out of sex slavery, the reality of there being modern day, evil slave owners is undeniable. They force their female slaves into prostitution, get them high on drugs, and destroy their lives. It sickens me because I know there is another Master who loves, who blesses, who washes away wounds and brings healing, abundant life and eternal salvation.
I often think we are setting these young women free with biblical counseling and economic independence. But in reality I am hoping they come to know my Master well enough to experience freedom from sin and make the choice not to leave Him but to join me in becoming a willing bond-slave.