“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings” (1 Corinthians 7:23)
In the last devotional I talked about becoming a new creation and finding my identity in Christ. If we want to become a new creation we need to kill off the old, and remove anything that give us our identity outside of the will of God. If we recognise where our identity lies at the moment then we can see more clearly as Jesus changes us and we become a new creation and take up our identity in him.
I would like to tackle some of the areas of my life in which I have found my identity. Each of these areas have been so much a part of my life that I didn’t even recognise that it was a problem. I thought that it was right for me to take pride in my work, and do my best, and show loyalty and give honour to those I worked for. But I never recognised that I had gone too far. I had become a slave and I didn’t even know it.
When it came to my job, I made so many concessions in my life and sacrificed so many things that it became very unhealthy. And all along I thought I was doing the right thing, and it was killing me. God never intended us to be a slave to earthly masters, indeed in today’s passage he tells us the exact opposite. Yet I never took any steps to free myself.
I believe there were two main reasons for this. Firstly, as I have already mentioned, I was never really aware that the situation had become so serious, and secondly my identity was so intertwined with my work that I was afraid I would simply cease to exist if I gave up my job! It gave me a sense of belonging, it gave me meaning, and I needed money to pay the mortgage, and pay for the cruises I loved and the many other things that money could bring.
But the reality was quite different. Far from making my life happy and giving me an identity, my work made me miserable and was taking my identity away from me. I had become merely a cash cow for the company. I was chained to the grindstone and it was killing me.
This is no exaggeration. Those who know me have been telling me for a long time that I needed to give up my job or I would die. Like you, I thought they were exaggerating too, but now that I look back I can see that if I had kept going the way I was going I certainly would not have lived much longer.
You can’t see it when you are in it, but I urge everyone to try and ascertain it for themselves. Take a step back and look at what gives you identity. If your identity lies in anything other than Christ then it is idolatry which is sin and it will enslaves you “for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” (2 Peter 2: 19b). Let my testimony be a warning to everyone that if we have our identity in the things of the world, we will be enslaved and die, but if our identity is in Christ we will be set free to live.
“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6: 20-22)
By God’s grace he has taken from me the very things that have enslaved me. The things that gave me identity, but extracted a heavy toll from my life. What benefit did they really bring me? No, they were leading me to death, and yet all the way I thought they would bring me the joys of life. Instead I have gained a new identity. No money, no job, no corporate belonging, instead I have spiritual riches, a heavenly assignment, and I belong to the body of Christ. Shall I be a slave to the world, or a slave of God? I know which one I would prefer!
Lord help me reap the rewards of holiness and eternal life that come from living with an identity firmly based in you. I once slaved passionately for my work, help me now slave as passionately for you kingdom. Amen.