Because Jesus redeems us body and soul, we must seek flourishing for all those around us.
I. Work (21:2)
Our work is always framed by 1) remembering we are God’s treasured possession, 2) worshipping God in grateful obedience, and 3) responding by serving others with our work.
Knowing: The translation “slaves” in this passage may not be the best translation for our modern understanding. This passage is not referring to chattel slavery but is more akin to what we would call employees, or even debtors to another person.
Being: Our primary motive for the way we work and the way we treat others must be the grace of our redemption. Worshipful gratitude must guide everything we do, say and think. Before giving them a single directive for how they are supposed to live, he reminds them he has redeemed them from their harsh treatment in Egypt to be his “treasured possession” (19:4-6).
Doing: As Christians, we are in the business of finding what is broken around us and getting to work repairing it. Is there any form of brokenness in your current vocational field you can seek to bring flourishing to?
II. Freedom (21:2)
As Christians, we are also in the business of bringing the freedom the gospel brings to places where we observe bondage (e.g. addiction, sex slavery, labor).
Knowing: No bondsman could remain indentured permanently. He could only remain in such a relationship for a maximum of six years or until the Year of Jubilee, whichever came first.
Being: This shows God’s heart for the most vulnerable in society. His gracious laws show his determination to protect and provide freedom.
Doing: Do you have co-workers or neighbors who are in bondage to sin in any way? Do you have skills and/or resources that might enable you to help others be free both spiritually and physically/financially? What opportunities do you have to bring gospel freedom to other people’s lives?
III. Dignity (21:3-11, 23:10-11)
God’s directives for life are designed to bring dignity to all people, especially women and children.
Knowing: Foreign prisoners and immigrants were to be afforded the same protections as Jews. If a Jewish master killed a foreign slave, he could lose his life as well. Any slave would also win full emancipation as well for any bodily injury, like losing a tooth or eye, suffered at the hand of his or her master (Ex. 21:20, 26-27).
Being: Marriage between slaves was recognized as sacred (Lv. 19:20-22). If because of poverty a family was forced to “sell” their children for food, it was for the child’s protection not to become a cheap laborer. Girls were especially to be afforded protective care and treated with the same dignity as a married woman. If the master of the house mistreated the girl in any way, he would breach the “contract” and she would be afforded freedom (Dt. 21:14).
Doing: How does God’s love and care for all people shape your own view of others? How does this shape your view of his law?