Ethics and The Old Testament–Pay it Forward

Pay it Forward.

If any of your fellow Hebrews, male or female, sell themselves into your service, they can work for you for six years, but in the seventh year you must set them free from your service. Furthermore, when you set them free from your service, you must not let them go empty-handed. Instead, provide for them fully from your flock, food, and wine. You must give to them from that with which the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember how each of you was a slave in Egypt and how the Lord your God saved you. That’s why I am commanding you to do this right now. (Deut 15:12:15)

“Personal experience of God’s goodness is turned into motivation for ethical behavior that responds out of gratitude and love.” (Wright, 2004) Time and time again, God reminds the blessed Israelites to do unto others as God has done for them.  When someone puts themselves into your service to pay off a debt, once that debt is paid or at the end of six years, send them off with a blessing as you have been blessed. And should they forget, God reminds them time and time again ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt to give you Canaan’s land and to be your God.’

Leviticus 25:35:38 makes it very clear. “If one of your fellow Israelites faces financial difficulty and is in a shaky situation with you, you must assist them as you would an immigrant or foreign guest so that they can survive among you. Do not take interest from them, or any kind of profit from interest, but fear your God so that your fellow Israelite can survive among you. Do not lend a poor Israelite money with interest or lend food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt to give you Canaan’s land and to be your God.”

How can we call America a Christian nation when we ignore these scriptures? God’s word here clearly goes against Capitalism and a free market economy. Some would answer me by saying that these scripture texts are Old Testament or Law. To which I would remind them that this is neither old nor the law, this is the ethical virtue of God—God is good(ness). As Christians, how can we do anything less?

About Terry Threadwell

Dr. Terry Threadwell has thirty five years ministry experience. Author, educator and Director of the Institute of Progressive Pentecostal Studies.
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