And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
We rightfully get on edge whenever we read about masters and slaves in the Bible. And while there were different forms of employment, contract work, and slavery in Bible times, it all gets summarized into our one word – slavery. And this one word is tied to the awful slavery that took place in the Americas.
Let’s be clear, the kind of slavery that took place in the United States and throughout the Americas started with the evil of kidnapping. People were ripped from their homes and sold. A price was put on another person made in the image of God and treated with unspeakable brutality.
God could not be more clear about how he feels about this.
Death is the punishment for kidnapping. If you sell the person you kidnapped, or if you are caught with that person, the penalty is death.
Exodus 21:16 CEV
There is no wiggle room here. If you were in the slavery trade, kidnapping people from their native lands, you were to be executed. Period. And if you bought a person, you were to be executed. It didn’t matter how well or poorly you might have treated them; death is the only punishment.
But then we breathe a sigh of relief, comfortable in the fact that we don’t practice slavery any longer. That was way in the past. We’re morally superior and smarter than those people. Or are we?
Today, it is estimated that over 27 million people in the world are handcuffed in different forms of slavery. Today, we call it human trafficking. And why is God so black and white about this? Because people are made in the image of God. God clearly says that anyone who enslaves anyone is lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinners, unholy, and profane.
The idea that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves was not invented by Jesus. It’s not some New Testament revelation or fulfillment of some hidden Old Testament promise. At the center of who Jesus is, we find a loving creator God who treats us with the same love and compassion that he shows to everyone. For us to do anything less is against who God is and an awful sin against him.
God didn’t just think about being good to people. He didn’t discuss it with anyone. He didn’t post the idea about it on social media. He didn’t even blog about it. He just does it. He shows it. He demonstrates it. He never just keeps it to himself. His loving and gracious personality always, always, always breaks out. It never just sits around on the sidelines of eternity. He speaks and acts with kindness because that’s who he is.
That’s why God is so strong in these words. This is an order and warning. These leaders are commanded to immediately give up their well-known habit of threatening. They are not given any option. There is no multiple choice. There is no slow withdraw from threatening and mistreating people. They are to immediately stop it and never do it again. Period.
And why? Because of who God is. God shows no favoritism. He doesn’t treat people differently. He’s not interested in a personal and intimate relationship with just certain people. No, he wants everyone. He’s against anyone being separated from him. He wants everyone to repent and come to him.
But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
When we treat some people better than others, we’re being prejudice. Period. There’s no beating around the bush. And God is absolutely and clearly against it. We are going against who God is, and this breaks his law. The evidence is strong, and we’re found guilty before God.
God’s love for us is without question. He doesn’t treat us like we deserve. But instead he has great love for anyone that fears him. He wipes away our sins as far as the east is from the west. He’s compassionate, like a loving father with his dear children.
Only as we open our eyes and see how much God truly loves us will we not only fall down in worship, thanksgiving, and praise to God, but we’ll be given a new set of eyes. Eyes that see other people for who they are, someone loved by God. Someone that Jesus died for.
Yes, they may be broken, lashing out at you. Hurting you. But you were bought with a price. And so were they.
Is human trafficking your problem or someone else’s problem? Why?
If God loves you like your neighbor, what’s stopping us from doing the same?
How do we show favoritism in today’s modern world?