Throughout the course of history, many people have read the verse above and taken it out of context. It’s horrifying to think that before the Civil War, pastors were using this passage in Colossians to teach that God condones slavery. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Satan loves to take the Word of the Lord and twist it into something evil, after all, what better way to deceive than to cloak darkness in light? The reality of these verses is that the Apostle Paul is teaching us how to endure a bad lot in life, even if what is being done to us goes against the heart of Jesus.
Slavery is not okay; it’s evil and horrible, and in ancient Judaism, the total dominion of one person over another was not permitted. Though we don’t often hear it presented this way, according to tradition, the first commandment is actually, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” This means that in Hebrew society, humans had a free will and that honoring the dignity of each individual was very close to Yahweh’s heart. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul, when he wrote Colossians 3, was suffering injustice at the hands of the Roman government. Although he was a citizen of that empire and would have had rights, he probably landed there because he ticked somebody off. His unjust suffering adds credibility to his message to slaves, many of whom were Christians, because he understood their lot!
Friend, I urge you to remember that God sees value in every human being and that in His eyes, there is no one better than another! Regardless of what the world says, even if you are downcast, downtrodden, or oppressed, you are precious in His eyes. In fact, the more you take on for His Kingdom and the more brightly your lights shines to the world, the more you will face the forces of darkness and resistance. Like the Apostle Paul, when that happens, I beg you to hold fast and not lose hope. Keep working in the midst of injustice, knowing that the One you are working for is faithful and that you are the apple of His eye!