You Cannot Serve Two Masters

“I just don’t like the idea that I’m a slave. Where is free will? Don’t I have free will?”

The word translated as slave in Western European languages from the Greek has been a stumbling block to many. Nineteenth Century atheist philosophers pounced on that language in their newfound glory of the individual human as a reason to reject Christianity.

My friend in our small group probing the depths of the letter to the Romans gave an honest reaction to Paul’s statements that once we were slaves to sin and now we are slaves to righteousness.

I doubt Paul and my friend interpreted the word the same. For Paul, the theory was not forceable captivity against our will. It was a choice.

Jesus said, you cannot serve two masters. You must choose.

When you choose righteousness, you acknowledge that as your “master.” Much as a disciple tries to be as much like his teacher as possible, when you choose righteousness, then you try to live as much to that standard as possible.

Every day you are faced with little and not-so-little choices of how to act. As you remember to choose to be like your righteous master, you choose to do good. Soon the response is automatic. You become a righteous person. 

I don’t mean that in the sense of self-righteous–a phrase that denotes a person who points out all the shortcomings of others in an obnoxious manner. But in the sense of a person you’d truly love to be around because they seem to care about you, are concerned for your well being, at peace with the universe.

The other master that many think of is free will is the “do my own thing” master. This is tempting. Until we discover that we have been living a life captive to our desires which are easily manipulated by advertising and peers. 

This choice is much older than even Paul and Jesus. Proverbs is full of the same warnings. 

Translators are traitors, as a friend reminded me a few days ago. The concept Paul had in mind was that of a person who attached himself to a master–most likely for economic security. But maybe also out of respect. Not so much coercion. 

Which master will you follow? Choose wisely.

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