Today, I want to talk about slaves, and since this is a blog on love, we’ll have to get to “love slaves.” What is a slave? We all have pictures of those brought to foreign lands from Africa to serve their masters who purchased them. In fact, I was told that in Spain, when the new slaves arrived, they were branded on the cheek with a symbol of the letter “S”, and a nail going through it. It’s a play on words. You see, in Spanish, the letter “S” is pronounced and spelled “es”, and the word for nail is “clavo.” If you put them together, you have “esclavo,” which is the Spanish word for “slave.”
Well, last summer in Madrid, my friend Jose showed me an interesting carving in the stone on some of the door jambs of a church downtown. Here are a couple photos of one of the door jambs. You can see the letter “S” run through with a nail. And indeed, it has the same meaning – eslclavo, or slave. The difference is that they are saying that they are slaves to God.
But what do I mean by “slave?” Well, the most common word that comes to my mind is “servant.” A servant assumes some inferiority to another, a superior, and often feels a lack of freedom. But a servant with the right attitude accepts his position, and indeed finds freedom in performing acts of service for those he serves. One of the most common relationships we have where we are to serve another, is as an employee. And not just “eye service,” not only when the boss has their eye on you.
One of my favorite three books of the Bible (which happens to be the middle of the three consecutive favorite books) is Ecclesiastes. Much of the book talks of the meaninglessness of life, that it’s all like chasing after the wind. But he does talk about finding happiness in something. In 2:24, he says, “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.” And in 3:22 he says, “So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot.” In the Spanish, for “find satisfaction” and “enjoy”, it says “disfrutar.” I like this, because that is what I want to do – find the fruit (fruta) in my work.
Well, what about “love slaves?” To be a servant, means to serve. And who would we want to serve more, but someone we share Good Love with, someone we want to make Better Love with. Acts of service say “I love you,” especially for someone whose love language is “acts of service.” (good reference book: The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman) But for me, it is all based on Best Love.
We are all slaves, love or otherwise, or all of the above. We demonstrate to others, and to ourselves, everyday what we are slaves to. How do we spend our most valuable resource, our (limited) time? How do we spend our money? How do we invest our Good Love, and with who? What and who gives us joy and happiness?
As I have shared before, Best Love is the love we have seen demonstrated by God, the same love God has said we should share with others. In Ecclesiastes, which seems mostly pessimistic, he says at the end: “here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” He didn’t have the knowledge that Jesus would provide the means to pay for all our judgement. And Mark 10:45 says “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Much has been said (and distorted) of what is in Ephesians about wives being submissive. But it also says for husbands to love their wives, to serve THEM. But Ephesians 6:5-8 sums up what our attitude about slaves should be: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters, with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you (no eye service), but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
As the passage from Mark above says, Christ came to serve, to be slave for us. He paid the price, and what more fitting symbol of a servant, of a slave, than an “S” with a nail through it? Especially when God himself was pierced by nails for us? Can you humble yourself to serve your loved ones, to be a “love slave” for Good Love and Better Love, in the name of Best Love?