"Every man should let his Hebrew slaves, male and female, go free, so that no one should make a slave of his brother."
Slave - a person who is forced to serve another
Captivity - held in a state of confinement
In modern America, we surely do not have the slaves to whom Jeremiah refers in the verse above. We don't own each other, forcing each other to clean our houses, cook our meals, do our laundry, or tend to our gardens. As a matter of fact, we consider the idea of slavery to be altogether quite appalling. Considering this, it is a shame that so many of us confine our brothers and sisters in our thoughts, making them slaves in our minds to the expectations of which we think they should uphold. While we aren't physically holding each other captive, we are enslaving each other in our own selfish states of mind.
Some time ago, I met a sweet lady with whom I began to form a friendship. She loved the Lord, was very active in her church, was full of joy, and encouraged those around her. I was drawn to her and was excited to have this budding friendship. One day, I overheard her discussing a delicate situation in her church in which she was caught up. Immediately in my mind, red flags went up. I began questioning her spiritual maturity, wondering if I could trust her, and doubting her seemingly sound relationship with the Lord. In my mind, I bound her with negative thoughts that did not reflect the love and the grace of God. Our friendship stopped growing. For months, I kept her at arms-length, cordial but cool, unwilling to let her drama-filled life influence my own path. Finally, after weeks and weeks of struggling with this situation, God woke me up with these simple words, "Megan, you aren't being fair."
God's Word commands us to treat others as we would treat ourselves, love others as He loves us, and forgive others as we have been forgiven. In this instance, I was refusing to do all of those things. Instead of releasing my sister from my poisonous thought processes, I made her a slave to my expectations. I stunted the growth of a beautiful relationship because instead of freeing her in my mind, so I could see her as God does, I detained her in my refusal to believe she could be anything other than what I had decided she was.
How awful would it be if we remained trapped by what the world says we are? How many times has God released us from the bondage of our own thoughts? Shouldn't we follow the example He sets for us in all things? He has declared that we are not defined by our mistakes; we should give that same liberty to others. Release your brothers and sisters from their captivity. Allow God to show you who they are in Him instead of continuing to believe what your own mind says about them. You will be amazed to find that when you let go of your negative thoughts and expectations, you are not only setting those people free, you are setting yourself free as well. Don't miss out on the blessings God would pour onto you using others just because you refuse to let them be who God says they are. Set your brothers free!