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The huperetes’ life at the bottom of the ship was tough and always busy — and it was permanent. Most died in service, the chains about their ankles grim reminders of their bondage. And there were five aspects of their work that Paul and his companions could identify with in calling themselves “servants” of Christ.

• First, the galley slave had to ROW TO THE CAPTAIN’S BEAT. To keep as many as 150 oars together, the captain beat a rhythmic tempo on a drum. Each slave had to row with the beat.

• Second, the slaves had to ROW TOGETHER. Often two or three rowers moved their thirty-foot-long oars. They quickly learned that one could not lean on the oar, another push, and another pull! They had to work as a team.

• Third, they had to TRUST THE CAPTAIN. In the gloomy depths of the boat, a slave had no idea where he was, where he was going, or when he would arrive. His was a labor of total faith and obedience. As the captain’s beat grew more and more rapid it could signal an enemy attack or a storm to be avoided or a hurried schedule — but the slave could not question which. He could only obey.

• Fourth, the galley slave was COMMITTED FOR LIFE. His was always a one-way trip. The damp, hard benches were no relief to his weary bones after a day’s labor. The lack of sunshine and fresh air, combined with the leg chains, meant repeated illness during service, binding every slave to the ship with deadly certainty. And if the ship went down in a storm or in conflict, the slaves had no way of escape.

• Finally, the slave RECEIVED NO HONOR. ONLY THE CAPTAIN WAS VISIBLE to the outer world. Although there were dozens of men who gave their lives and very breath to keep the ship going, they were never seen. They rowed on and on, day in and day out, invisible to and unrewarded by the world. If an under-rower were seen, it was because he was not doing his job.

So what was Paul’s goal in his life? To be Christ’s servant. What should be our personal goal? The same. WE MUST BECOME BY HABIT, LIKE THOSE GALLEY SLAVES OR UNDER-ROWERS FOR CHRIST! And our prayer for our children? No less.