by Sewell Hall
“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” (I Corinthians 7:21-23).
At first glance, these words may seem to have no practical value for us. But look a little closer. The chief problem with being a slave was that it put you into a position in which it was difficult to be a Christian. There are many other circumstances, however, that might make it equally difficult. Paul’s teaching would apply in principle to any such circumstance.
If there is no honorable escape from the position, just make the best of it. If you are a slave, just be a better slave. “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against” (I Timothy 6:1). If you are married to a non-Christian, “the wife shall not leave her husband…and…the husband shall not send his wife away” (I Corinthians 7:10-11) If one is under contract to those not Christians, the contract should be fulfilled so long as our action does not involve something wrong in itself. Under all circumstances, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). But we do not have to sever the relationship.
If the relationship is such that it can be honorably terminated, the Christian should take advantage of the opportunity. “If you are able to become free, then do it.” If a job hinders you from being a Christian, quit it. If a school you are attending, if the company you are keeping, if the community in which you are living, if the places you are going, if any of these hinder your Christian service, make the changes that are necessary to free yourself of the bad influence. And do it regardless of how precious the thing may be to you. Jesus said, “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell” (Mark 9:45). We cannot afford to remain at a spiritual disadvantage if we can honorably escape it.
Above all things, if you are free of entanglements or alliances that might hinder you, remain free. You have been bought with a price; you are Christ’s slave; He has first claim in you; do not allow yourself to be placed at any disadvantage in serving Him. Avoid any contract, any relationship, any companions, any came, any amusement, any sport, any job, and promotion — anything that would hinder.