How to Treat Servants
Loving God, Your mercies are new every morning, and Your faithfulness is great. I confidently place my future in Your hands.
Read Exodus 21:1-11
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
Millions of migrant workers work as servants in foreign lands today; many suffer hardships and even abuse. In ancient Israel, God gave rules to ensure that servants were treated justly. In this passage we find some basic principles.
If someone became bankrupt and owed money, it was possible in ancient economies for the debt to be settled by the bankrupt person working as a servant for the creditor. In this way, he was also provided with daily necessities such as food and shelter. There was some good in this arrangement but it could be abused, as it often was. To prevent abuses, God’s Law stipulated that such a servant was indebted for six years, after which he was free (2). If a man offered his daughter as “payment” for his debt, the Law, again, guarded the rights of the woman (7-11). God’s Law not only prevented abuses but pointed to a better way: it promoted goodness and kindness in the way servants were to be treated. For example, a master could let his servant have a family, thus treating him with dignity (4). A master could treat his servant so well that the servant may voluntarily choose to remain in his master’s service for life instead of leaving as a free man after six years—indicated by piercing his ear (5,6).
Those over whom we have economic power, such as domestic servants in many countries, must be treated not only fairly, but kindly. These principles are reiterated in the New Testament in many of the parables of Jesus (Matt. 18:26, 27; 20:1-16; Luke 19:11-19) and in the writings of Paul (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1; Phi. 8-21). Christians must show the way in helping their society become fairer and more compassionate.
Ask God to help you show (expected and unexpected) kindness to those who serve you today.
Lord, I pray for a new heart of love for the least, the lowly, and the lost. May I ache with Your heart of love for the disadvantaged.
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