“From the teaching of Jesus we learn that slaves are not greater than their master; neither are they privy to the master’s plans.They are accountable to the master for how they use his resources, even in his absence. They are also liable for how they treat their fellow slaves and are subject to considerable punishment if they are unmerciful to others. Slaves are expected to obey and honor their master without complaint, though the faithful slave will be honored for his diligent service. Moreover, slaves can expect to be treated by outsiders the way their master is treated. If the master is treated with contempt, slaves should expect their treatment to be no better.
Jesus also used slave language to define the reality of what it means to follow Him. Discipleship, like slavery, entails a life of total self-denial, a humble disposition toward others, a wholehearted devotion to the Master alone, a willingness to obey His commands in everything, an eagerness to serve Him even in His absence, and a motivation that comes from knowing He is well pleased. Though they were once the slaves of sin, Christ’s followers receive spiritual freedom and rest for their souls through their saving relationship with Him.
Against the historical backdrop of slavery, our Lord’s call to self-sacrifice becomes that much more vivid. A slave’s life was one of complete surrender, submission, and service to the master-and the people of Jesus’ day would have immediately recognized the parallel. Christ’s invitation to follow Him was an invitation to that same kind of life” (Slave, John MacArthur, emphasis mine).
Could it be any clearer? Our lives are not our own. We belong to our Master and Creator. We are His slaves. We are accountable to Him for how we use His resources, whether we follow His commands, how we represent Him to others, and whether we seek to please Him in every word, thought, and deed.
Disobedient slaves were punished, often losing privilege or ‘rank’ among other slaves. On the other hand, those who fulfilled their responsibilities and satisfied their master’s wishes were eventually rewarded, often with higher stations, sometimes with complete freedom.
As slaves to Christ, we too will be rewarded according to our obedience and stewardship here on earth. No, we may not receive ‘punishment’ per se, but there may be a lack of reward for those who chose to ignore the Master’s commands. And there will certainly be no acclamation for those who seek only comfort and bring shame on His name. There will be no “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” for those who fail to please Him, who refuse to live for His pleasure rather than their own, who live an “all about me” sort of life. As the apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV), ” … ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”