Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. Romans 13:1-5

We have been discussing freedom for the pasts couple of days. I want to show you a spiritual secret. You know you are free when you can choose to love and serve others.

God has placed "higher powers" over each of us, someone to whom we are accountable in some way for how we act, what we do, who we become with our lives. These authorities in our lives are given to us by God. And God does not give any bad gifts. They are there for our good. It may seem like they are cruel, even tyrannical but the truth is they are there to break you down. We are all naturally full of pride, envy and strife. This is a practical way that God uses others to mold us and conform us into teachable, humble and respectful souls. Each of us, left to his own, could never become what shape he was meant to be without the abrasion of another who rubs us right. God bless those who watch over me and must give an account for my soul.

In Old Testament times, slavery was a fact of life. In fact every person born into the kingdom of the nation was automatically at the disposal of the king to be used for his higher purposes. But the illustration I want to give here relates more to the standard slave, bought and paid for. This slave was by law chattel, property, a tool if you will, in the hands and at the discretion of his or her master. There were severe penalties for insubordination and rebellion, up to and including death.

Imagine being a slave and actually "making bricks without straw". We all cringe at the thought and can only think of the cruelty of those masters. It is this type of reality for which the ministry of eternal judgment is reserved. We who believe there is a God also believe that all things will be brought into account and before the light and arm of His justice. He will "get his someday" as we like to think.

But what about those wicked servants? Whoa, don’t go there you say. Yes, lets go there. What about those who are rightfully paid for according to law? Is it not the master’s right to use their property in any way (excepting immoral or criminal) they want or need to? So, is not that servant who is in rebellion subject to judgment also? Is not that master due justice also?

Now, here is what would solve the whole problem don’t you think? What if the master was kind and considerate, thoughtful and generous toward his servants? Now wouldn’t that be a great deal? There was a provision in the Old Testament for those slaves who having served their term became eligible for their freedom. If the slave or servant wanted to continue to serve his master he could indicate his willing self-indenture by the piercing of his or her ear against the doorpost. This was amazing symbolism showing our willingness to serve God by the application of our blood to the doorpost and the piercing of our ear, the instrument of our hearing and obedience, but this is another lesson for another day.

You might ask why would a servant reenlist after his term of service was expired? Good question. We are getting nearer to the Kingdom of God here. For you see, in the Kingdom of God there are righteous rulers, those who exist for the welfare and service of those whom they oversee. As the song goes, "I can only imagine". For we have not yet seen the kingdom of God on earth. Here is a test for authority. Try to think about those who serve you because you have a power (i.e. paycheck) over them. Would they return to serve you, given the choice, if you did not have that whip in your hand? Authority is a terrible position for you are not only representing those above you but you must answer to them for your conduct whether it be faithful or not. And the conduct that will be brought to light is how did you serve the needs of those over whom you had charge.

So now I want to come full circle. There are very few who serve their masters wholeheartedly, as unto the Lord. They (we) like to look at their faults and justify our own actions. We, by nature, hate authority, but at the same time like to place the burden for what they are supposed to do for us. You (and I) will be judged for this type of rebellion against those over us.

We talked about righteous rulership. Now lets consider righteous servanthood. Are you a good servant? Do not serve because the master has a whip but out of love. This is true freedom. Not doing what we do because we must but because we choose to lay aside our will, our desires, our agenda to serve another. This is Christianity. For Christ did not think equality with God something to be grasped but humbled himself… even to death. All those parables about the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, carrying the Roman soldiers armor 2 miles instead of one. They all demonstrate the love of God. This is freedom to love another with the same love with which we have been loved. We do it because the love of God constraineth us. We love because He first loved us.

So, don’t wait for that cruel master or enemy to do good to you. You exercise freedom and love them for God’s sake and for the Kingdom. Who knows maybe we will get a few good masters out of this once they are overcome by some good servants.