Who is Your Master?

Who is Your Master?

by: Jon Wood, Groups Pastor

“No man is free who is not master of himself” -Epictetus

I recently saw this quote on Instagram and had two immediate thoughts: First, who was Epictetus? Second, that it is the exact opposite of the Gospel.

Per a quick internet search, I discovered that Epictetus, who lived between 50 and 135 A.D. was a Greek philosopher from the Stoic school of thought. While I cannot with 100% accuracy verify the quote above was actually his, I can say that it is diametrically opposed to the Christian Gospel. But why is a dusty, old, probable quote from an obscure philosopher significant and why write about it? Because whether Epictetus said it or not, the idea behind the quote characterizes in one sentence the mindset of 21st Century contemporary thought.

We like to think that we’re in charge and command our own destiny. We pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we follow our own path, we forge our own river, we must be true to ourselves and above all trust our hearts. After all, it’s the American Way, right?

But this isn’t God’s way. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 56:6 that following our own way leads us astray. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked. Romans 1:24-32 shows us what we become when we trust our hearts. Ephesians 2:3 shows us that we’re children of God’s wrath because of the desires of our mind and body. Considering these Scriptures then, do we really want to be our own masters? Has that ever gone well for anyone?

Jesus calls us to die to ourselves. He offers us the path of eternal life where our own bootstraps are not just worthless but non-existent. He offers to replace our wicked hearts of stone with hearts of flesh that are alive to Him and His providence. He offers to make us new creations and lead us into green pastures where He is our Good Shepherd.

Bluntly, Epictetus was wrong. We cannot rule nor save ourselves. We are not the kings heroes of our own stories. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Without Jesus, we’re villains and slaves. If we’re our own masters, it isn’t freedom we gain, but bondage. True freedom can only be found in Jesus.

The question is then, “will you seek to be your own master and perish, or will you hold out the empty hands of faith to the Lord, allowing Him to give you life everlasting?” Every one of us must give an honest answer.

ArticleDaniel Hicks