Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 27; 147:12-20, Exodus 1:6-22, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Mark 8:27-9:1
The story of Joseph, his many brothers, and his father Jacob is very near its end with today’s reading. The journey to Egypt for Jacob (also called Israel) and his sons has been a long and twisted one.While Joseph and Pharaoh’s favor allowed the fledgling nation of Israel to settle freely in the Egyptian land of Goshen with all the food they needed, the other residents of Egypt were not so lucky during this seven years of famine. After giving Pharaoh all their money one year and their livestock the next, they had nothing left but their land and bodies. In exchange for food, they offered themselves up as Pharaoh’s slaves and had to pay a tribute of a fifth of all they harvested.
Contrast that with our reading from Paul. He tells the Corinthians that he is a slave not to one master, but to all people. When with the Jews he was a Jew, when with the weak he was weak. This was not merely a strategy to blend in or achieve popularity. He became “all things to all people, that [he] might by all means save some.”
The Egyptians became slaves to a demanding individual because they needed something. Paul used his freedom to enslave himself to everyone because he had something they needed.
We’re all slaves to something. Ambition. Greed. Fear. Integrity. Love. Faith. It’s important to pick that thing freely before it picks you out of necessity. Otherwise we can spend a lifetime disentangling ourselves from obligations that stand between us and the freedom Paul found when he turned everything over to Christ.
In Matthew and Luke, Christ tells us no one can serve two masters. He is speaking specifically about the second master of money, but it is true for many things. The Egyptian were victims of circumstance, but our own failure to prepare can leave us similarly desperate and sacrificing our freedom to mere survival. Let us be intentional about committing ourselves to Christ by both avoiding unworthy masters, and planning toward those things which free us to serve our true Lord unencumbered.
Comfort: Committing yourself to God does not feel like slavery, but like freedom.
Challenge: Are you trying to serve more than one master? How could you disentangle yourself?
Prayer: Powerful and loving God, I commit my life to you above all else. Thank you for allowing me the freedom to make that choice, and grant me the perseverance to remain faithful. Amen.