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To Be Free

Daily Devotional • June 12

A Reading from Ecclesiastes 9:11-18

11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful, but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For no one can anticipate one’s time. Like fish taken in a cruel net or like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.

13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few people in it. A great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 So I said, “Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded.”

17 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded
    than the shouting of a ruler among fools.

18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war,
    but one bungler destroys much good.


Freedom and slavery. Paul uses perhaps the most opposite of words to talk about one thing: life in Christ. We submit to freedom, not to slavery; we choose slavery, not freedom. We were slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness. We were free only to choose sin, now we are free to live for God. As it turns out, freedom and slavery seem to be neutral positions, and their object is what makes them either holy or evil. 

“You were slaves in the land of Egypt,” the Lord tells the Israelites at Sinai, yet “they are my slaves,” he calls them from the same mountain.  

Bob Dylan was right when he said you gotta serve somebody. It’s a nonnegotiable that makes us wealthy, educated Westerners nervous. Students still memorize William Earnest Henley’s Invictus in school. Memorizing, writing on their hearts, the damning words “I am the master of my fate.”

Scripture gives us a different narrative. One where we’re not really the master of anything. If we’re free, it’s because we were manumitted by Christ and for Christ. If we are slaves, we’re slaves to Christ, who unlike Pharaoh, is the only good, perfect master who loves us even to death on a cross. Are we free or are we slaves? Yes, thank God.

Chase Benefiel is a friend, Tennesseean, preacher, and student (in that order) currently finishing his M.Div. at Duke Divinity School.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Dallas
The Diocese of Fond du Lac – The Episcopal Church


Scripture and prayer. Every weekday.