1 Corinthians 7 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“Each person should remain in the life situation in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? It should not be a concern to you. But if you can become free, by all means take the opportunity. For he who is called by the L_rd as a slave is a freedman. Likewise, he who is called as a free man is Messiah’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each person should remain with G_d in whatever situation he was called.” 1 Corinthians 7:20-24
The legalized practice of forced slavery in the United States ended with close of the American Civil War. For many years, leading-up-to (and following) the Civil War, certain Southern pastors interpreted Paul’s statements to mean the Bible supported forced slavery. Of course, their assumptions were wrong. Sadly, a whole generation of naïve & undereducated congregants followed such teaching as if it were the gospel. As a consequence, America would not be fully integrated until the Civil Right’s movement of the 1960’s & 70’s.
In the days of Yeshua, slavery was very different. A slave, in Biblical terms, was not necessarily a spoil of war, or human cargo. People would sell themselves for a season…working for money, for a specified amount of time. Perhaps, these people were down on their luck, had made bad business decisions, found themselves in debt or just didn’t want the pressure of running their own household. Whatever the circumstance of their voluntary enslavement, G_d gave strict rules for the governance and treatment of slaves. There was even a time, the year of Jubilee, when all slaves had to be set free, by law. Yeshua proclaimed this freedom in His message to his hometown synagogue.
“He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the L_rd’s favor.” Luke 4:18b-19
The indentured servant who heard of Yeshua’s proclamation of Jubilee, might have been tempted to cut-out on his agreement. This would have spoiled the testimony of honesty & integrity that followers of Messiah are called-to. Paul exhorted slaves to work themselves out of slavery by fulfilling their obligations and paying back their debt. In the meantime, they were to rest in the knowledge that Yeshua had set them free from their sin debt.
As for free men, Paul cautioned them against becoming prideful and feeling they did not need G_d. He challenged them to remember they, too, had been bought with a price and are under an obligation to serve Yeshua, as any indentured servant would serve a master.
Bob Dylan once sang, “It may be the Devil, or it may be the L_rd, but you’re gonna’ have to serve somebody”. Yeshua paid a debt we could never afford; therefore, we should willingly serve Him. I am spiritually “debt-free” in Messiah, and yet, personally I am eternally indebted for His grace & mercy!
~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Daily Devotional, Friday, September 6, 2013