I think about my first job after college – so happy to be free from school, finally a chance to get out and do something. Getting a real paycheck, have evenings and weekends, don’t have parents or teachers telling you what to do. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
Lived an hour from work because we couldn’t afford to live closer, locked in to 9-10 hour days, worked weekends and traveled for work, paying off school loans and racking up credit card debt, then car payments, then a mortgage, and got 2 whole weeks’ vacation – so don’t use it all in one place or God help you if you get a prolonged illness. I never felt more trapped – my time, my performance, my words and actions under a microscope, my future dependent on opinions of sometimes immoral men and women, and all my resources were on loan from somebody else.
Ever feel trapped by your circumstances?
Captive of whoever hurt you and put you in the position you’re in, or the one who won’t promote you or give you a chance; enslaved by your guilt & shame and replay your past that keeps you bound; slaves to tradition, and to how many things do we throw up our hands and say what can I do? It is what it is. Slaves in our heads and slaves in our hearts, in debt that seems impossible to pay.
We can start to identify ourselves by what enslaves us.
Scripture shines a light on those things that kidnap our hearts and take captive our minds:
Slaves to debt – Proverbs 6:1-5NIV “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have struck hands in pledge for another, if you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbor's hands: Go and humble yourself; press your plea with your neighbor! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyelids. Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” (thanks for the Scripture reference, Dave Ramsey)
Slaves to impurity, being rebellious - Rom 6:19NIV I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Slaves to our appetites - Rom 16:17-18NIV Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
Slaves to fear - Hebr 2:14-15NAS Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
Look at the list for which David cries out for release: Psalm 25:15-21NIV
15 My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. [slaves to loneliness]
17 The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish. [slaves to despair]
18 Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. [slaves to guilt]
19 See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me! [slaves to bullies, critics & enemies]
20 Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. [slaves to shame]
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
These are summarized in 2Peter 2:18-19 ” For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”
What has mastered me? What has mastered you?
What do you find your mind going back to whenever you lose focus? What becomes the basis for your decisions, your anxieties, or even your pleasures?
These reflect a spiritual dimension even more critical and permanent.
“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.” Ephesians 1:6-7NLT
God does not want us to live as slaves.
There is freedom in Jesus.