Practical Proverbial, from Titus, 31 July 2019

Encourage slaves to submit to their masters in everything, to be pleasing to them, not to be argumentative with them, not to steal from them, but to demonstrate their complete trustworthiness, so that they may show the teaching of God our Savior to be attractive in every way. Titus 2:9-10 (EHV).

It’s about submission, not slavery.

Slavery is an off-limits topic in our politically-correct culture.   We aren’t allowed to acknowledge that slavery happened except in terms of denouncing it in the most vociferous tone.  No doubt:  slavery is an abomination and a wrong.   No doubt, too, that more people than just Americans were or held slaves throughout human history.   Indeed, it’s occurring, still, today, on every continent except, perhaps, Antarctica.

How does Paul advise us to deal with slavery?   Encourage slaves to be submissive.  WHAT?   Yep.   Encourage those suffering through the degrading misery of human bondage to submit to their masters as a reflection of submitting to God.   Demonstrate patience and endurance.   Demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness.  Demonstrate these qualities that slaveowners, through their very role, are lacking.   Do so as a way that the slave owners and others may see Jesus through us, through the example of trust in Him.  As Jesus said, “let your light sine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Right on, right on.

God didn’t make slavery, but He allows it to occur so that people may learn to depend on Him.   God didn’t make cruelty but He allows it so that others may learn love for Him instead.   God didn’t invent political-correctness but He allows this modern slavery to ideology so that we might see He’s so much bigger than our nonsense.   We get to see that by first submitting to Him.

It isn’t PC to talk about positive things that resulted from slavery.   Historically speaking, after emancipation, the black community in America was the most cohesive, familial, dignified and faith-based community across all demographics up until the advent of the 1960s Great Society.  Even under the oppression of Jim Crow, former slaves rose to overcome that oppression with dignity and honor; if only those oppressing would have done the same.   Perhaps God’s message (through Paul) to us today is to endure the unendurable with that same dignity and honor.   He encourages us to submit to Christ by submitting to those who would put us in bonds in a thousand different ways.   This so that, to God may be the glory.

For further reading:  Matthew 5:16, Luke 1:47, Ephesians 6:5, Titus 2:11.

Lord God, to You be the glory in all things, even the worst that humanity can conceive.  Remind me always to submit to You in all ways.


Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 31 January 2019

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.  1 Timothy 6:1 (NIV).

Slavery was officially outlawed in the United States on Dec 6, 1865 when Georgia ratified the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.  That amendment was ratified in less than a year; 309 days, and only 240 days after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.  Yet 154 years later, slavery is still a sore subject in America for many reasons.

Did you know that, even under slavery, black culture was the most devout, Christian culture in the nation?  As a matter of fact, all through out the history of America, it is the African American community that has held closest to the core values of Christianity.  That’s an amazing fact, and an amazing testament to both the power of Jesus Christ and the strength of character of good people who were subjugated but followed Jesus anyway.   Today, much time in our society, especially in our popular culture, is devoted to doing what we can to make amends for the national sin of slavery, even though it ended so many generations ago.   Why is that?

Perhaps the answer to that is found in re-reading verse 1.  How could any people not feel the guilt of history on them when they see that those subjugated as slaves often kept Paul’s hard advice better than the advantaged population that subjugated them?  Indeed, it’s a tough thing to do, considering your ‘masters’, often regarded as adversaries, worthy of respect.   Yet that’s what Paul asks us to do.

Indeed, slavery was commonplace in Paul’s time.   The Romans and Greeks conquered vast reaches of territory and enslaved those they conquered (if they even let them live).  Every nation in history, up to that point, had practiced and known slavery.   To break the cycle of hatred, Jesus commanded us to respect our masters, giving them honor as God’s representatives.   A slave master God’s representative?   Yes.

That is nether an acceptance nor toleration of slavery.   It’s simply a way of honoring God by honoring the people put over us.   Not many people in America are enslaved today; that 13th Amendment outlawed it.   Yet a dishonorable truth is that slavery – human trafficking, prostitution, drug runners, even people in common workplaces – still does indeed exist in the United States.  In fact, it exists in many areas of the world.   We who aren’t enslaved should use our righteous position to work against slavery.   And when we do encounter it, it’s up to us to remind those afflicted to give God honor in all aspects of their lives so that they may draw nearer to Him in true freedom.

For further reading: Ephesians 6:5, Titus 2:5 & 8, Colossians 3:22-24, 1 Timothy 6:2.

Lord, Your example is for us to not enslave others.   Help us to honor you by honoring those above us, even our ‘masters.’

Practical Proverbial, the Ten Commandments, 20 June 2014. Today’s topic: ending at the start

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20, verses 2 and 3.

So we end here at the beginning. We end with first principles:   God is God.   We are not to worship anyone or anything else. In reality, this first commandment goes with every other one.   There is no sin that doesn’t start without first making something else more important than God.

Let’s not gloss over that slavery thing, though.   You and I: we are still slaves.   Paul said we believers are slaves to righteousness; that’s true. Yet it’s also true we are rhetorical slaves to many other things.   I’m a slave to my job; you’re a slave to your children; we slave out in the yard every weekend; my wife slaves in the kitchen.   Blah, blah blah. As we talk down a pretty powerful word, let’s not lose sight of what it really means.

Slavery is having no freedom.   It is being under the complete control of another.   It means someone can beat you, abuse you, work you, and kill you without your being able to do anything to stop it. For over 200 years, in colonial America then into Constitutional America, slavery was legal and normal.   It took a civil war and drastic societal change to rid the nation of slavery; even then, hatred found ways to perpetuate its effects for another hundred years.

Don’t kid yourself: slavery still exists in this world.   There are still whole parts of Africa in which men enslave each other.   The sex trade is run on slavery in every nation in on the planet. Every government, even benevolent ones, has the tendency to move from liberty to tyranny to enslaving its people; it is only we the people who prevent that.   Slavery is alive and well in 2014.

The Israelites had been slaves for over 400 years, since the death of Joseph and the kind pharaoh he served.   They were subjugated, beaten, tortured and worked until God delivered them into His freedom. Quickly they learned that slavery, however, needs no taskmaster.   Slavery can exist when you’re enslaved to your sins, to your temptations.   God understood this, so He gave them this first commandment to remind them that He is God. That He redeemed them. That He is more powerful. In Him there is only love, justice and true liberty.   In God, there is no cruelty of slavery.   In God, there is only the true freedom of divine redemption. We were created for that loving freedom.

That’s where we end this series. God started it by reminding us of His true, free redemption, then gave us reminders of how to cling to that honest liberty. How much freer could we be if we simply took His commandments at His Word, then lived our lives accordingly.

Lord, You are my only God.   You are the only source of liberty, truth, and love.


Read Exodus chapter 20: the full Ten Commandments.