I love to read Scripture, but I also love to listen to it on audio. There are free apps that offer you audio, including YouVersion, but I’ve used Audible.com to purchase and download the Bible read by actor and Christ-follower David Suchet, whose voice and inflections I love. Whatever audio version you use, there’s nothing like HEARING God’s Word. When you’re driving or doing something mindless, why not listen to God?
I was listening to David Suchet reading Galatians, and I kept hitting the reverse button on my Audible app to go back and listen to this verse again and again: “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:7).
The words “no longer a slave” reminded me of what Jesus said: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
So, if we are “no longer” God’s slaves or servants, why does the Bible continue to refer to us as those in other places? For example:
- “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10).
- “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
- “For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave” (1 Corinthians 7:22).
- “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).
I think the answer is we are no longer only slaves or only servants. God looks at us genuinely as both His children and His friends. Incredible! I think this means we should never deny or minimize the fact that we are God’s servants, and should realize that itself is a high calling. But we should simultaneously affirm the wondrous fact that we are His children and His friends—and also His heirs and delegated rulers of His creation. We are all of those simultaneously.
As Nanci and I face the battle with her cancer, we know we are indeed God’s servants, but how encouraging to know we are not just that. We are also His beloved children and His trusted friends, and heirs that will one day help rule the New Earth to His glory! As such we can trust Him fully, and know that what He has for us really is for our good, as Romans 8:28 promises. We are heirs of the family business, which is ruling the universe, a task He is, often through our hardships, preparing us for.
God can and does love His servants, but He certainly loves wholeheartedly His children and His friends. And He intends to do His best for us, even when that best takes a different form than we might have chosen.
This article originally appeared here.