What mark is on you, is it that of a servant of God?  The word translated as servant in much of the new testament is doulos.  In the Greek, that word means “slave” not “servant” as we know it, or “worker”; or “hired hand”; or “helper.”  It means slave.

Why this wrong translation? It’s interesting when you do some research, but apparently in the 16th Century, when Calvin, John Knox and other translators put together the Geneva Bible, slavery had a negative connotation and so they opted for the words “servant” or “bond-servant” instead.

Big difference between a slave and servant though.  A slave is owned by the Master, whereas a servant is free to go. Romans 14:7-8

doulos“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.  If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

We like Paul, Peter and many others are actually “slaves to Christ,” because we belong to Christ.

So, what I am really asking is: What is the mark of a slave of God?  Deut 15:16-17 describes the marking of a slave.

“But if your servant says to you, ‘I do not want to leave you,’ because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life.” 

The slave could voluntarily agree to the marking, out of love for the Master and his family.  When we call Jesus our “Lord” we declare Him our Master  (Rom 10:9).  Our love for Him declares us his slave, for life. By voluntarily agreeing to the marking, the slave left his old life behind, and agreed to a new life with the Master.  (2 Cor 5:17) The slave also loved the family of the Master and in the case of Jesus our Lord, his family is the body of Christ, our brothers and sisters in Christ. (Rom 12:5)

Interesting though, that the mark is through the ear of the slave!  By choosing the ear for the marking, the servant declares a commitment to listen to the Master for life, but not just listen, but obey!  He is to be attentive to the voice of the Master and no other, obedient to all the Master asks out of love.  Jesus said in John 14:23-24

ObedienceLoveAnyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” 

Jesus set the example for what obedience out of love looks like in John 15:10

“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

Each one of us is marked as slaves to the Lord, Eph 1:13-14

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.

The Spirit is not just there to mark us as the possession of the Lord, but also to enable, teach, guide, rebuke, confront us into total obedience.  The mark of the slave; is one of total attention to the requirements of the Master and total commitment to obedience.

Lord thank you for your mark: the Holy Spirit in my life.  Thank you that it indicates that I am owned by You.  Help me, so that the evidence of the Spirit’s working in me will be a mark on me, i.e. obedience demonstrated.  Help me to submit, to yield to the teaching, guidance and discipline of your Spirit so that I may be ever attentive to your voice and ever obedient to what you ask me to do.  May I not just hear you, but be obedient.  Mark me as your slave.

If you enjoyed this post, also read:

The Ear is in Hear

The Heart Regulates the Hand

How to Position Yourself to Hear From God

The If and Then for Life