Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking Back What You Give Away

Today's reading: Jeremiah 24-27

...But then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back your male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them again into subjection to be your slaves. Jeremiah 34:16 NRSV

In this passage of Jeremiah, we find ourselves in the middle of a story of freedom and injustice. The king, under Jeremiah's (and therefore God's) direction has made an agreement with all the people to free all the slaves who were Hebrews. This was what was instructed by God to the people in their law. However, the people had not followed this practice. Even when in agreement with the king to do so, the people broke their agreement by taking their slaves back. The really bad part was that they all understood this to be an actual covenant with God and was celebrated in a worship service!

The people agreed to give something up (their slaves), they promised God to do so in front of witnesses, but then they reneged on their agreement. Greed and injustice became their motivators rather than faithfulness and obedience.

Has there ever been something --whether sinful or just unhealthy -- that you agreed to give up? Perhaps you prayed about it or stated this agreement in front of Christian witnesses. Were you able to stick to this agreement? Was this a difficult practice for you? Do you think this was a form of repentance? Or did you find yourself breaking the covenant in a short period of time?

God calls such a retraction a form of profaning God's name which in turn breaks one of the ten commandments. In other words, this is not only bad it is very bad in that it breaks one of the Big Ten. You may not think of taking back what you have given away as profaning God's name. But it is obviously serious stuff for us as Christians.

God, in our attempts to please you, help us to not give back what we have given away.  Instead, give us the will and courage to act justly and with true repentance. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims

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