1 Corinthians 7:23: “You were bought at a price, do not become slaves of men.”
Paul is talking about not being subject to the laws of men. The Jews of that time believed in the law of Moses and in circumcision. Paul tells new Christians that they are no longer under that law because it has been fulfilled for them by Christ.
This fact, though, doesn’t just free them from the law; it also frees them from living up to the expectations of those who are still under the law.
Before you were a Christian, you were concerned about yourself. You were probably concerned with those whom you loved, but you wanted to serve yourself and be loved. You wanted to be valuable and worthy. That’s what the Pharisees believed that following the law did for them; they were worthy because of their adherence to the rules. Then these Christians come along and claim the law has been fulfilled, so the Pharisees get upset and try to bring the Christians under the law, the same law that justifies the Pharisees already, building them up over everyone else.
Jesus didn’t die so you could continue to be a slave. He did not purchase you from His law only to have you sell yourself into the hands of other people. And that’s precisely what happens when you let others determine your value.
Think about it for a second: what kind of things do we do so that others, many of whom don’t even know us that well, will like us? We go to the gym, dress well, spend time coaxing our hair until it’s perfect, and generally try to appear in public as though we have everything together. For our bf/gf (and sometimes, even our spouse), we hide uncomfortable truths from them because we fear they’ll get angry or be hurt. We let the opinions others will have of us control our actions on a daily basis.
There are responsibilities we have, such as a man to protect and lead his family, but these are responsibilities to God to be good stewards over that which He has seen fit to entrust us. Our responsibilities to others are summed up in the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:31), and that command comes from Jesus, not from a self-imposed enslavement to others.
Jesus died to set you free. You are free to follow Him regardless of what anyone else thinks of it. You are free from living your life to make others happy. You are His slave, not theirs. And so it is Him whom you should be obeying, not others. His commands are simple: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
In the next part, we will take a closer look at the differences in your actions that this means.