Do you rule your personal servants? (Yes, you do have them)
The Scripture reference he used was unknown to me. Had I heard it without the benefit of the sermon, I might have put it in context with Jesus’ oxymorons such as “the last shall be first” or “servant leadership.” I would have considered it positive.
But, instead, wise King Solomon’s observation was convicting.
This is the verse Pastor Warren Wiersbe used to start his Sunday Morning Bible Study:
I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.(Ecclesiastes 10:7, KJV).
“There are some people who are being mastered by their servants,” Wiersbe said. “The servant is the ruler and the ruler is the servant.”
He wasn’t talking about relationships with other humans. He was talking about how we relate to our personal servants — and we all have them. Our body, our mind, appetites of the body such as hunger or thirst or lust. All of those are to be our servants.
Not our rulers.
Reclaim your freedom
Since I reached the age of accountability (better than saying “menopause,” yes?), I’ve struggled with my weight. It’s more accurate to say I’ve struggled with what I want to put into my body and why. Just two years ago, I was in the best shape of my adult life, which makes the 10 pounds I’ve gained and their location all the more unpalatable.
And yet I continue to eat and drink — not for fuel but to ease stress, induce relaxation, or distract from the important work I’m doing my best to avoid. Or just because I like good food, special treats, and beverages with more zing than water.
But something about the then-upcoming U.S. Independence Day holiday made me want independence and freedom from these appetites of the body and mind that pulled me off my desired course.
The “verse of the day” my Bible App provided called me long enough to write it on a slip of paper and hang it on my refrigerator:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.Galatians 5:13, ESV
I was tired of allowing my servants to be my master. And I was allowing it. I can stop serving my servants because I belong to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives inside me. If I yield to Him, He will enable me to live for Christ and put to death the deeds of the body.
The picture of the servant riding the horse while the prince walked was a good visual. As much as I enjoy walking (and, frankly, don’t love riding horses), I don’t want to shirk my royal status as a princess and, perhaps, make my king look less powerful than He is.
So what is the solution? Do I exercise self-control and master my body and mind? (I’ve too often failed at that.) Do I redouble my efforts to try again? Or does God offer something more?
Wiersbe said the theme of Romans 8:5-17 was “freedom from defeat.” He pointed to verses 12 and 13 to indicate we don’t need to serve the flesh, rather we need to serve the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.Romans 8:12-13, NIV
Rethink your thoughts
Lately, I have been thinking of myself as fat. No matter my efforts (or so it seemed), the number on the scale never went down. My determination to be satisfied with my closet of clothes this year — as part of my word of the year focus — is getting uncomfortable.
My clothes feel tight. I feel fat. I felt I had no control over my size no matter if I ate well and exercised or not. (And I largely did. Largely. The irony of my word choice is not lost on me.)
Am I thinking myself fat?
The Bible says that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7, KJV). Philosophers agree:
“We become what we think about. A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD)
“A man’s what he thinks about all day long.”Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”James Allen, author of “As A Man Thinketh” (1864-1912)
When I think I am fat and that nothing I do can prevent me from getting fatter, then I figure I might as well eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow I will be fat anyway!
It’s a lie from the pit of Hell. My body is God’s temple — and I am His tool. He intends to use my body for His eternal purposes.
“Your body is God’s treasury,” Wiersbe said in his sermon, “God’s treasure in earthen vessels.”
Let me repeat something I said earlier: If I yield my body to the Holy Spirit, He will enable me to live for Christ and help me put to death the deeds of the body. Maybe that means I don’t cave to cravings for food and beverages that aren’t best for my body. Maybe it means I stop perseverating on those things and spend my time, thoughts, and energy on what will matter in eternity.
God doesn’t want me to waste time thinking about whether I’m fat or not. He wants me to get busy thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
He wants me to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).
My thoughts matter. The flesh — my old nature — wants to control my mind because my mind controls my body. My will, of course, controls my mind; I suspect my heart controls my will.
Revive the fullness of the Holy Spirit
The pastor suggested that we need to present the Holy Spirit with four gifts every day: our body, mind, will, and heart. Before you even get out of bed each day, give God your body — and then get up. Give the Spirit your mind by opening your Bible, your will by praying, and your heart by worshipping and adoring Him.
When you do this, you can experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit — which is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11). Is that powerful enough? Wow!
What Paul said in Romans 12:1-2 summarizes this well:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:1-2, NIV
Will you, God’s prince or princess, walk the earth while your servants — your body and mind and their appetites — ride the horse?
“God saved you that you might be riding and not walking,” Wiersbe concluded.
I want to ride.