How fascinating is it that the Lord’s mother calls herself “the handmaid” of the Lord? I’ve been pondering what it means to be “a handmaid” and if I need to focus on being one? After all, aren’t handmaids just servant girls? What kind of liberation is in that?
Digging deeper, a handmaid is a female slave. She is a woman with no choice but to obey the wishes of her masters in everything. Many handmaids in the Old Testament were forced to provide sex, children, and manual labor. Slavery was not always a good life if you were owned by a harsh, God-less master. And even the God-fearing masters, like Abraham and Sarah, were still hard to work for in Hagar’s case.
Out of all the heroines of the Bible, it is interesting that 4 women identify themselves as handmaids:
Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:11, 16, 18
Abigail in 1 Samuel 25:24, 25, 27, 28, 31, 41
Mary in Luke 1:38, 48
Why did they choose to act as slaves when they physically and legally were not? Could it be that they were choosing to serve out of a heart of humility and tenderness to the Lord? Were they so concerned for the welfare of others they chose to humble themselves and serve? The idea is that they served, instead of seeking to be served. How many times do we go to our prayer closets and ask God to serve us instead of asking God to use us?
James 4:10 “Humble Yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
Humility is one of the classiest and most powerful characteristics a woman (or man!) can possess. Humility is not dying to your dreams.
Humility is not allowing mean people to hurt you continuously.
Humility is not self-hate.
C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”
Ruth focused on the healthcare of her aged mother-in-law. Hannah focused on a child she would dedicate to the Lord. Abigail focused on saving the lives of her servants, (and her belligerent husband), and the reputation of David, the future king. Mary focused on God’s will for her life instead of focusing on the challenges of raising a seemingly illegitimate child.
A person who submits themselves to the Lord is going to be tested. But the result is always worth it. Ruth married a wealthy man who loved her. Hannah was given a child who became famous in the history of Israel. Abigail was given a marriage proposal by the future King. Mary was given the heavenly title ‘Mother of God.’
So how can we in today’s world chose to serve? Sometimes that’s not as easy as volunteering, giving money, or going on mission trips. Sometimes serving is opening your home to people you don’t like. Sometimes serving is doing the dishes and cleaning toilets. Sometimes serving is taking time out of your day to deal with an over-emotional person. Sometimes serving is giving birth to a baby Jesus wanted born into the world. Sometimes serving is growing a garden for your grandmother. Sometimes serving is putting your life on the line and standing up for yourself and others. Servants don’t live for themselves. Servants are always on call for any crisis or emergency, always ready to serve when the Master calls.
So ladies, are you Jesus’s handmaid? Do you feel ready to get down your knees right now and tell Jesus you will serve him no matter the cost to you?