The Servant or the Slave
What think ye?
Two men came to the Lord and said, "Master, what good thing shall we do, that we may have eternal life?" And he said unto them, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep all my commandments."
The first immediately went his way and sold all he had and gave to the poor. Every morning when he awoke he would get on his knees and cry, "Oh Lord, what wouldst thou have me do today? I will be obedient!"
And the Lord would appear to the man and reply, "I will tell you all things what ye should do as you walk along the path of the day and hold strong to my word."
Every night the first man would get on his knees and cry, "Oh Lord, my heart groaneth because of my sins this day! I am a wretched man and my heart sorroweth because of my flesh! My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me. But I will forebear. It is a hard thing, but I will sacrifice and suffer to bear thy burdens. My heart weeps and my soul lingers in the valley of sorrow, and my strength slackens because of my afflictions, but I will not yield to sin. I will try not to be angry because of my enemy.
"Lift me, dear Lord, that on the morrow my soul might awake and droop no longer. Shut the gates of hell before me that I might conquer spiritual evil. Hedge up the way of my enemy, but clear my way before me and remove all stumbling blocks! Comfort me that my heart might rejoice and give place no more for the enemy of my soul. Let me be strict in the plain road and encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! Help me to be more obedient, that every step of the way I might follow thy light into thy presence, that I might have visions of thy glory and that by and by I might have rest from my labors! I will do thy will and enact thy direction. I will make no apologies for following thee or offer no compromise. Oh Lord, I pray that thou wilt end this night of darkness. This is my continual prayer. Amen."
And the Lord would often appear to the man in a dream, and say, "Blessed are ye because ye desire this thing of me; therefore, after that ye have served me all thy days, ye shall come unto me in my kingdom; and with me ye shall find rest."
The second immediately returned to his home, and in his closet cried mightily, saying, "O Lord, have mercy on me, a captive and a sinner! Snatch me out of the everlasting burning fires! Redeem me from my carnal and fallen state. I am lost and have no rod to hold! I am traveling in the dark and dreary waste. Have mercy on me, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies!"
And the Lord replied, through the voice of an angel, "If ye love me with all your might, mind and strength, then is my grace sufficient for you, that by my grace ye may be perfected in me."
And the second man heard and cried, "Lord, I believe. I will not deny thy power. My heart has been changed and I no more desire to do evil, but to do good until the end of my days. I no longer am consigned to an awful view of my own guilt. I remember my abominations no more!"
And then he went his way. The family and friends of the second man noticed a change in him, and when they inquired, he published to all the people, "Behold, I am born of the Spirit! I have been redeemed of the Lord and have become a child of Christ. I am a new creature. An angel hath appeared to me and has declared the doctrine of the Lord."
One day, the second man cried in prayer and said, "Oh Lord, thou hast promised with an immutable covenant that thou would hear the prayers of my fathers, for they sit in prison and canst perform no labor for themselves. What wouldst thou have me do, that their thirst would be quenched?"
And the Lord said, through the voice of an angel, "If thy fathers will enter into life, thou must repent and come unto me."
And the man said, "I have done this ever since the day thou declared to me that thy grace was sufficient. What would thou now have me DO? In what manner should I perform?"
And the Lord did not respond. He did not comfort him or bring the man into his presence.
And it came to pass that after many days, the man stopped looking for signs and wonders to guide him, but did straightway begin to put his trust in the true and living God and to serve others anxiously; not for a hope of a reward, nor out of fear of being punished; but because he loved them and desired with all his heart that they would have joy. Yea, he began to sing the song of redeeming love and to freely partake of that fruit which is most desirable and most precious; which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure.
And it came to pass that an angel came to the man and said, "Thus saith the Lord: Who am I, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled."
And the angel continued, "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: I have given unto thee and unto thy fathers weakness, that you may be humble; and that you may have charity for your fathers, and for the remnant of the seed of Joseph, and for the Jews. Thou hast been faithful and have humbled yourselves before me; wherefore thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father. Your names shall be written in the book of life, and unto you will I grant an inheritance at my right hand."
And the angel said to the man, "Verily I say unto you, the power is now in you, and hast always been in you, wherein thou art an agent unto thyself and can do many things of thine own free will, and bring to pass much goodness, and bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness! For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.
"Thy prayers and the prayers of thy fathers have entered into the ears of the Lord of the Sabaoth, and they shall be granted: all things wherewith you have been afflicted and your fathers have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name's glory, and to the fulfilling of my covenants. For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. Thus, the Lord has said it, and thus it is. Amen."
Therefore, what think ye? Which one of these two men was a true servant and a vessel of the Lord?