Saturday, May 24, 2014

Slave society - 1st Timothy 6:1-2

"All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles." (1 Timothy 6:1-2)
Paul is not justifying or encouraging slavery but acknowledging it as a social reality into which many new believers found themselves. The Greek and Roman worlds were very much slave societies whose economy and way of life was built upon the availability of free labor from slaves. Some of these slaves were bought through the indebtedness of the person being enslaved, some were captured and forced into slavery, and others, perhaps the majority of them, were made slaves as the result of being concurred through military exploits. What ever the case, in some cities and at some times, there could have been ten times as many slaves as freedmen. The reality for the church, and the gospel, was that many of the new believers were being converted to Christ while they were yet slaves to another person. Without condoning slavery, the apostolic message teaches several things about our lives, even if it is the life of a slave.
"Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that... You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called." (1 Corinthians 7:21, 24)
First, we are encouraged to remain in the condition to which the Gospel first came to us. This does not mean that a slave could not make use of a chance for freedom should it ever arrive, or that one could not later choose to be married if they were saved while being single, rather that what matters more than our station in life is our relationship to God and this we can have and grow in regardless of where the Gospel finds us. Sometimes people's desire to be something else, to be free, to be married, to be rich, to be unmarried, to be in "ministry", etc. can become a distraction to a person's devotion to God. Love God where you are, learn to walk with Him in your own circumstances, don't be to eager or distracted to be something different, and, if a change does come, thank God for the opportunity and the grace to receive it.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
Secondly, In Christ, there is no differences between people. The Kingdom of God is gender blind, color blind, and class blind. Weather you are free or enslaved you have the same God, the same Kingdom, and the same blessings of God available to you. Being a slaved does not hinder you in the Kingdom of God and neither does being free. God loves all people equally (that being completely) and so should we. We must learn not to see others according to their condition in life but to see them spiritually, as brothers and sisters in Christ. "Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh..." (2 Corinthians 5:16)
"For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men." (1 Corinthians 7:22-23)
Finally, being freed in our soul is of much greater value than being freed physically. There are many who are free but who are slaves to lusts, desires, and the impulses of their soul. One can be free from other men yet addicted to things of this world. Such freedom is simply an illusion. However, there are those who are imprisoned physically in many ways yet their souls are set free and are incapable of being enslaved again by men. These are they who are truly free. Those who know who they are and whose they are, are free while other simply live in an illusion of freedom while they are slaves to the demands of their emotions, fears, addictions, and lusts. Jesus came to set our souls free and, one day, will return to set our bodies free as well. However, until that day, we must strive to remain free in our soul while we wait for our total freedom that is yet to come. Here is true freedom and life.

David Robison

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