Deuteronomy 24:18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
Human beings are strange. The minute we get to what we consider a better status or situation, we tend to forget, or even actively try to forget, how things once were, and when we do, we tend to treat badly those who are as we once were. Moses is saying very clearly not to do that. A prime example of how we should be is Paul, who, though being the great apostle who wrote half the New Testament, still referred to himself as “the worst of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) He didn’t dwell on how bad he was, but he never forgot that he had actively persecuted the Church and approved of the killing of Steven. That gave him compassion for others, and the perspective that God could save and use anyone. Instructions to “remember that you were slaves in Egypt” appear many times in the Old Testament, especially in this book of Deuteronomy, where Moses is trying to cement God’s truths into the hearts, minds, and culture of Israel. When we remember how gracious God has been to us, we are both grateful to Him and able to be gracious to others, and that is the road not only to personal happiness but also to a peaceful, generous society.
I’ve never been a slave, but I’ve certainly been a “Stranger in a Strange Land” (to quote the title of a Robert Heinlein book). It is both encouraging and informative to be part of a large Missionary Kids group on Facebook, where people who were children of missionaries from a wide variety of countries to a wide variety of other countries share their memories and current experiences. I’m also part of another group connected to the US Air Force dependents school I attended in Fukuoka. Those people are not missions-related but are still multi-cultural, often with other countries besides Japan included in the mix. There is an interesting level of connection among such people, in many ways like that among war veterans, because of the background of similar experiences. All of that gives me an empathy today with people from other countries who are living in Japan, because I know what it is to deal with culture clash. I am to make full use of all the Lord has allowed me to experience, so that, as Paul said, I may “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort [I myself] have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the many connections You’ve given us recently with various Chinese people. Help me minister effectively to them, as well as to the Japanese, so that in all things people may be drawn to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!