Do not slander a slave to his master.
Proverbs 30:10 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Do not slander a slave to his master,
Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.
The first method we should always use in interpreting and applying scripture is to interpret it literally. The actual concept of slavery is no longer something that most people are familiar with in our current culture and society. So the next thing we do is to look at the scripture symbolically or metaphorically to understand how it can be applied to our current situation and hold true to the original meaning. Rather than use the comparison which is sometimes used for slave and master relationship, and relate this verse to an employer, employee relationship, I think we can better understand the intention of this verse if we look at our relationship with our master.
In Romans 6:16, Paul says: Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 1 Corinthians 7:22-23 says: For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price So, there is this concept that as believers, we are servants, slaves to our heavenly master and Lord. On the cross, Jesus redeemed us from our sin. He purchased us. We are His possession. This relationship as servant/slave to our master is only one part though of who we are in God’s eyes. In Romans 8:14-17 it says: All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. We have not only been redeemed and purchased, as the Lord’s possessions, we have also been restored, to the image and likeness of God, the way He created us. We are His children, equal to Christ in the eyes of the Father.
If we view today’s verse in this context we see a meaning that we can apply in our own lives and in our time. We should think carefully before we criticize others. Those who have been redeemed, those who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, are also God’s children. Think of the reaction that a human parent has when you criticize their child, you likely will receive the wrath of that parent, if you slander their child. When we criticize others who are Christ’s possession, those He purchased with His blood, we criticize God’s children, those who are His creation, the image and likeness of God. When we criticize the creation, we criticize the creator. We actually criticize or slander God.
Even with those who are not followers, believers in Christ, the price for their redemption was also paid for on the cross. They as fellow people are also created in the image and likeness of God. In Jeremiah 18:6, God is referring to the nation of Israel and the way He determines to shape them. He says: "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand.” When we see faults or imperfections in others we should recognize that they are, as we ourselves are, still an unfinished project. God is still working in their lives, as He is in ours. Some people are nearly finished in the Lord’s hand, beautiful creations, vessels for His service. Others may look much more like a shapeless lump of mud. There may be little form or beauty visible to our eye. Yet still they too, were created in the image and likeness of God. They too have been purchased with the blood of Jesus. God’s desire is that none would perish, that all would come to the knowledge of the redeeming power of the cross. God’s desire is that each one of His creations would allow themselves to be molded and shaped by His hand. We should not criticize the unfinished work of the master. In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Our judgment and criticism of others is an indication of how much more work there still is to do in our own lives. Often the things we see in others, the things which bother us the most, are the same things which are still imperfect in our own lives.
In Ephesians 4:14-16 it says: We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Jesus doesn’t say we should ignore the speck in our brother’s eye. We should not ignore or condone the sin in the lives of others. We are though not to judge, to criticize or condemn. Instead, having allowed God to work in our own lives, to remove and refine the imperfections, we then speak the truth in love, that we and others together would become the finished work, the perfect creations of the master.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, my Redeemer; precious Holy Spirit forgive me when I have criticized Your unfinished creations. Help me to see others as You see them. Give me Your eyes to see the finished work, the perfect creation. Let me see the image and likeness of You in those I meet. Remove the imperfections from my life with Your masterful hand, lovingly changing me as You see fit, that I might be the perfect vessel for Your service. Amen