Does it surprise anyone else that God would create a system he knows can be abused? That he would create laws that are dependent not only on peoples’ obedience, but aligning their internal value system to reflect the spirit of those laws?
It surprises me.
Maybe it has been there the whole time and I just didn’t notice it until now. But in a chapter that has a lot to do with outward actions like canceling debts, giving to those in need, and letting slaves go free, there was a lot of focus on your attitude going into it.
- Do not be hard-hearted
- Do not be tight-fisted
- willingly lending enough
- Do not entertain a mean thought
- don’t view a needy neighbor with hostility
- Be ungrudging
- Do not consider it a hardship
Those are attitudes. And they are important.
If your inward thoughts and desires are all about making money, then you would gladly lend to someone the year after the cancelation of debts. Why? You will get six years of repayment!
But if it is the year before . . . well, then you will only get one year’s worth back. You lose on the deal. So the good businessman would be stingy that year.
Your attitude matters. And God is willing to build an entire economic and social system around it.
Fully Obeying the Law
Which brings me to my next point: Fully obeying this law requires outward action and inward transformation.
They are both necessary.
You can cancel the debts all you want, but if you are hard-hearted and never lending to anyone, you have completely missed the point.
You can set your servants and slaves free all you want, but if you view it as a burden you have also missed the point.
Conversely, you have also missed the point if you never view people with hostility but never actually unclench your fists and be generous with your stuff.
God is trying to teach you something. He is trying to show you that when everyone follows his laws, everyone is taken care of. He provides. He is trustworthy. And he has a story he is telling.
Your Story Matters
Do you know why you let your slaves go? Do you know why you provide generously for them when they do?
Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you.
Because of your story.
One would hope that the cognitive dissonance between remembering you were a slave and treating your slaves like garbage would be too much for them.
Remember your story!!!