Reading: The servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free. Exodus 21:5


After seven years of service slaves in Israel were given the opportunity to go free. Love, however, could make them stay. If a slave decided to remain with his master, he could profess his love, pledge his allegiance, and remain for the rest of his life. His testimony to effect such a commitment was simple; he needed to say, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free.” 

The order of these words is important. Love for the master comes first. Nothing else takes its place, and his love paved the way for a life of constant, faithful, and honest service. Upon making that profession of love and pledge of loyalty, the slave had his ear pierced—a permanent sign of permanent service.

This Old Testament picture is most fully seen in the life of Christ. Christ came forth to do His Father’s will. He loved His heavenly Master more than anything or anyone else. He came with one great purpose and carried that great purpose to its conclusion. In Psalm 40 Christ says, “Mine ears hast thou opened…. I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (verses 6–8). He loved His Master and he would not go out free.

As this is true of Christ, it ought also to be true of His people. So often we are tempted to please ourselves and to serve ourselves, tempted to “go out free” and give way to the pleasures of sin, tempted to go back from serving Christ. Satan longs to draw us away. He must be resisted at all costs. We have been bought with a price. We are servants of Jesus Christ. May it be our constant testimony, “I love my Master; I will not go out free.”

“My Jesus, my King, my Life, my All; I again dedicate my whole self to Thee.” David Livingstone

Taken from A Word in Season edited by Alan Cairns, 2010. Used by permission.