You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody

These lyrics from Bob Dylan are probably one of the few things that he got right:

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody


Gotta Serve Somebodyis a song by Bob Dylan from his 1979 studio album Slow Train Coming.   It won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male in 1980. 

This is one of the truest songs Dylan has written.   John Lennon was so angry with it that he wrote an obscene counter-song, “Serve Yourself,” which was so bad, Yoko Ono published an apologetic explanation of it in 1998.

If you’d like to hear it, and you don’t know the song, it might help to have the tune in your head.  You can listen to it here:


For those who listen with Biblically informed ears the refrain echoes Paul and Jesus:

Paul: “You are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Romans 6:16).

Jesus: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).

The Bible teaches that we will each be servants of someone, of one of two masters.   One is voluntary, the other is not.   Slave or bond servant.   Those are the two options.   A slave is purchased and then, for the rest of his life, is owned by and slave to the one who owns him.   A bond servant picks his master.

Paul writes about this in 2 Timothy when he says, “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth.  Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap.   For they have been held captive by him to do WHATEVER HE WANTS.”

You’re going to serve someone.   Slave or bond servant, the choice is yours.  This is the great battle of the ages, not who will rule nations or win wars, but who will win the hearts and obedience of man.  That’s the true battle of the ages. 

So which are you?  Slave or bond servant?

There is no third option.  One master is cruel, harsh and only wishes your obedience at the cost of your eternity. For your obedience you get nothing!  The other, Jesus Christ, gave His life to provide life for us, sonship, forgiveness and so much more. His invitation is simply, “follow me,” and in that relationship based on love I find myself a willing bond servant because of His love for me.

You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody… the choice is yours to make. 

I hope and pray that you choose wisely.

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