Slavery has been around a long time. Right or wrong, it’s been around, and we see it first-hand in this chapter. Solomon used the hands and feet of foreigners to do his work: “He built everything he desired in Jerusalem and Lebanon and throughout his entire realm (v. 19).” The words that caught my eye in this verse was “he desired.” We know from God’s appearance and His words in this chapter that Solomon was blessed and that God granted him the abilities and means to build the Temple, the palace and all the other structures described in this chapter. We also know that God allowed this “forced labor” to be recorded in history. From these words, we might be able to get a picture of how slavery evolved and how it was justified in later years, up until our very own times. I think sometimes we read Scriptures like these and decide for ourselves that we are just as privileged as Solomon, that we somehow have earned the blessings of God in order that we, too, may act as kings and rulers of the past. This is a little off topic but something I’ve been thinking about since yesterday after reading a Tweet from a guy I’d never heard of before. This is slightly political, so bear with me. His Tweet was a recant of apparently something he’d Tweeted in days past. It went something like this:
I Tweeted earlier that a vote for Biden = sin, but I deleted it because I think a vote for either Trump or Biden was unwise but not necessarily sin.
My initial reaction was, “Who are you to judge sin?” But the comments that followed that Tweet were nowhere near what I expected them to be. Many people commended the Tweeter for the humility he showed in the post, but several commenters went into how they agreed that voting for Biden was a sin. Some said voting for either candidate was sinful. Some defended Trump and bashed Biden for being pro-life, so therefore, they thought voting for him was a sin. This is what I mean when I say I think sometimes we cop the attitude that we are somehow blessed enough by God to stand in His shoes here on Earth. It’s not our job to judge sin, but I felt the same way about this guy after I read his post. I saw his post as a sin and therefore deemed him a sinner! Neither can we decide slavery is ok because God allowed slavery in the Bible. God allows a lot of things we don’t understand. In my mind, using forced labor is a sin, and it’s hard to explain to new believers why slavery was ok in the Bible. I just can’t explain it. It’s one of those things I will speak to Jesus about when we meet, but on Earth, I just can’t explain it. I can’t look at ancestors of slaves and go, “Well, the Bible says it’s ok, so deal with it.” That’s not my job. My job is to love the Lord with all my heart and all my mind and all my strength and accept the things I don’t understand because I know His plan is greater than mine. At the same time, I also can ask for understanding, which God grants me often in his own time and way. I look at Solomon and think, “Why did he need to be so lavish in everything he did?” And while I want to demean him for it, I know God had something bigger in mind. Still, it’s hard not to have an opinion about things like this, and I think in part, this actually is part of God’s bigger plan! He wants us to see the wrongs in things that even He permits. He places them in our presence not so we can judge but so we can learn to love better, to love like God loves. He gives us hearts of empathy for injustice. He gives us hearts of envy and sometimes disgust for the lavish so that we may move forward with humble attitudes, not convicting opinions. But in order to do that, sometimes we have to experience the reverse first.
Writing prompt: conviction
Who have you convicted recently? We all do it! I will finish this writing and turn around and do it with someone I know in the next five minutes – guaranteed. Write about what we can learn from judging others and how you can better achieve a heart of acceptance rather than conviction.