Today’s passage picks up where yesterday’s left off, and also follows the same logical pattern. That is, Paul is applying the principle of “Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called.” Yesterday, we saw that the principle meant that Jews didn’t need to become Gentiles, and vice versa. Let’s see what it means in today’s passage.
Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 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. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
– 1 Corinthians 7:21-24
It is clear that Paul does not see slavery as a desirable state, for he says, “if you are able also to become free, rather do that,” and “do not become slaves of men.” It is also true, however, that Paul did not see it as the primary mission of Christianity to eradicate slavery.
The primary mission of Christianity is to re-make the individual from the inside out. This is why God wasn’t interested in preserving the distinctions between Jews and Gentiles. He wanted all people to have circumcised hearts, not some people to have circumcised bodies.
Some people think that the Bible condones slavery because the apostles did not go on a “social justice warrior” crusade against it. You can see from the passage above that the apostles did not see slavery as desirable; it’s just that they thought that slavery to sin was the worst kind of slavery there could be. What good would it be for men to be free from each other but enslaved to their lusts?
The main reason we do not have slavery today is not that modern man is so much more moral than ancient man but rather because of the Industrial Revolution which made it cheaper to use machines for grunt work than people. In eschewing slavery, modern man was being more mercenary than moral.
The apostles preached true morality which begins in the individual human heart. They did not enslave men; they set men free.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, thank You for giving us the means to be free from slavery to selfish desires…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)