(This is a post I wrote for onemoneydesign.com)
If you haven’t read my post “The Bible’s Connection Between Debt and Slavery”, you can read it here. Essentially, in biblical times slavery more commonly resembled what we might think of as indentured servitude (more so than the African Slave Trade of the 1600-1800s). I believe that when we purposefully read God’s word and attempt to apply it to our own life, it will always bear fruit. Therefore, if we recognize that slavery in the Bible—in many cases but certainly not all—had to do with paying back debts that could not be repaid, then we free ourselves to find timeless principles in the Bible’s teaching regarding slavery. We find financial instruction buried in texts that we would read over without giving a second thought to our pocket books. Passages like this one:
“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.” (1 Cor. 7:21-23, NASB)
A loose connection (and yes, I agree that it is a loose connection) can be made between this passage and our financial life. It would make sense in the cultural and historical context of these verses to assume that one potential reason for the slavery spoken of here is unpaid debt. Therefore, we will try to take that connection between debt and slavery and apply it first to this passage, and second to ourselves. If we dig deep into this passage from such a vantage point, I believe we can extract the following financial principles from this text:
“Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it…for he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman.”
- Often a Christian is heavily entrenched in debt before they learn about the Bible’s strong warnings regarding borrowing. At times, a believer in this predicament is tempted to beat themselves up over their financial situation. The Bible instructs you to relax, rest in the fact that you are Christ’s possession. This will put your finances in proper perspective. Move forward acting in accordance with your new knowledge and honor your existing debts with integrity.
“But if you are able also to become free, rather do that.”
- As a follow up to the previous point, the Bible argues that if you have the ability to get free of your debt—by all means, do it! If we are honest, we have to think almost all Americans fit into this category. There are very few situations where a person living in our country does not have the ability (over the long-term) to wrestle free from their debt. If freedom is obtainable, the Bible encourages us to pursue it.
“He who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.”
- Those of us with financial freedom (debt-free or disposable income) must not make the mistake of thinking that our liberation from leveraging frees us from our obligation to Christ. We belong to Him. We are Christ’s slave. Our financial decisions must serve His interests above our own (especially if we used biblical instruction to gain financial freedom in the first place!).
“You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”
- We belong to Christ. We are not to willingly become enslaved to men. Does this mean that we are not to borrow any money from this point forward? Hmm. I don’t think we can go quite that far, but it does create quite a challenge for those willing to reflect on such an ultimatum. I will leave this up to your prayerful consideration, but will challenge you: at the very least you must ask yourself why you are willingly adding financial obligation into your life. This will bring limits to your freedom. If our finances belong to Christ, why would we place added (and perhaps unnecessary) restrictions/payments on our financial freedom?
I hope you find my thoughts on this passage intriguing. I know I have never considered the financial ramifications of these verses until now. Again, I hope you see that my goal of this post is to challenge your thinking. These ideas are far from being airtight, ready for entry into a systematic theology book, but offer spiritual food for thought nonetheless.