"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men." (1 Corinthians 7:23-24)
Paul was encouraging those who were Christ-followers to be true to their present situation when they were called by God. Of course, in reflecting on this, I began thinking about the things that enslave us. Certainly the usual stuff we think of that is not healthy or even evil came to mind. You can fill in your own blanks here.
As I kept on rereading this verse, I started thinking about things that can enslave us to men. We wouldn't necessary think of these as sinful but they can certainly become snares for us.
Top of the list? We can become slaves to ourselves. This happens to me all the time.
My own way of thinking leads me like a ring through my nose if I don't put it before God and then consider its effect. How does this one, slave to self, show itself? Maybe it is when I find myself thinking "Well, it's just the way it is supposed to be done" or "If you understood this matter as well as I do, you'd see it my way." And a million other thoughts where I set myself up as superior to someone else. (There's a big snare: pride!)
We can also become slaves to ourselves in meeting our own needs as we define them. Some things I think of are seeking solitude when we are called to serve others. Times when God calls us to rest but we overwork. Zealousness regarding something that doesn't have its roots in what we really believe and want to live out- our clubs and activities, hobbies etc. Maybe its having a passion for things that do have godly roots but may have gotten out of control: pet philosophies and theologies, being important, our political views, etc. I think you get the idea. Anything that can replace God in our focus and passion can bring slavery when we find our identity in it or maintain an unhealthy focus on it.
It is kind of discouraging to find we can become slaves to things not inherently evil .
We could continue to beat up ourselves if we leave our focus here. Thank God, however, if we know and love Jesus, we are truly free from what weighs us down! This is a recurring theme in the writings of Paul. Check out Romans 6 in particular. Let me end with a portion of it.
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:22-23)
Thankfully, it is a gift and nothing we can earn. Let's go forward with a thankful heart for God's great gift to us!