“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is a popular reference to William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her family’s rival house of Montague, that is, that he is named “Montague”. Just because he carried a specific name, it didn’t define who he was.
When we hear the name “rose” what comes to mind? Ask a mother and she pictures a big bouquet of red roses given in love by someone – a husband or maybe a child. Ask a horticulturalist, and they might respond with the question “what kind of rose?” Ask a florist and they might picture the painful thorns they must navigate in preparing the flower for delivery. A single name can conjure many different pictures, depending on the person and their experiences.
What do you think of when you hear the word “servant?” If we think of it from a historical standpoint, we see the term in a negative connotation connecting a time in our early nation to slavery and servitude of others. If we picture a grand estate of the “rich and famous,” we see the term used in more of an employment application. But what if we look at it from a Biblical standpoint?
In the Old Testament every fifty years was called the Year of Jubilee. During this year, all real property automatically reverted to its original owner and those who, compelled by poverty, had sold themselves as slaves or into servitude to their brothers, regained their liberty. All debts were forgiven and all was right with the nation of Israel, or at least that was the intent of the Levitical law.
In the New Testament, Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who goes on a journey. But before he leaves, he entrusts bags of gold to his servants. When he returns, two of the servants have invested the money and earned the rich man even more. He replies, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Even though these men were servants, they were entrusted with a very valuable commodity, gold. They could have run away with it but they didn’t. They stayed and earned more for their master. What a relationship they must have had with him.
We should strive to have the same relationship with our Heavenly Father. We are entrusted with things more precious than silver or gold. The souls of people are a stake in the great struggle. Just like in the parable, we need to receive our gifts from the Holy Spirit, and then use them to multiply souls for the Kingdom. This is the Great Commission given us by Christ.
We all are servants for the one who sacrificed His life so we can have eternal life. When we stand before Jesus at the end of this age, I long to hear these very words, “Well done good and faithful servant!”