Imagine you’ve been captured by pirates sailing to steal, kill, and destroy your homeland. After months, perhaps years of slavery to these cruel masters a great Hero comes to rescue you. He opens your prison door and removes your chains and shackles. You stand weakly to your feet and begin to battle the enemy beside Him.
They jump ship to escape His blade, others are not so lucky. Your Hero tends your wounds and feeds you. As you begin to exit the ship with Him, He turns and asks if you have gathered your share of the plunder. What do you do? Do you run to gather all you can, thanking Him for riches beyond your wildest imagination? Or do you exit the ship, cursing the pain and wasted years in the hands of the enemy, bent on revenge?
It would be ridiculous to pass up such a chance and yet we do it all the time. We get so caught up reliving the servitude that we don’t fully enjoy the freedom available to us. The Hero I mentioned is, of course, Jesus Christ. He has come to release us from the captivity of sin and take us to a place of spacious freedom and JOY in Him. He not only wants to defeat the power of Satan over us, but He wants us to gather all the plunder we can on our release.
The Old Testament gives us a literal picture of this in the true story of the Exodus. The Israelites spent over 400 years in Egypt as slaves. Before it even happened, God promised that when they came out, He would make them rich. “I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions” (Gen. 15:14).
Sure enough, Jacob (Israel) and his family went to Egypt to escape famine and settled there. The Egyptians later forced them into slavery. Exodus chapters 1-11 tell the incredible events leading up to their rescue – Moses’ birth, attempt to rescue his people in his own strength - murdering an Egyptian and escaping into the wilderness for forty years. God brought him back to do the job His way - displaying His unlimited power through plagues and miracles over the false gods of Egypt. When they left, Moses told them to take the riches of Egypt with them. “The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing” (Ex. 12:35).
Their captors were physical; ours are spiritual. What has held you back from experiencing freedom in Christ? Memories of abuse, insecurity, addiction? The fallout of divorce, bitterness, fear, anxiety? Abandonment, doubt, ignorance? All of these hold us back from walking in JOY with God. He wants us to know when our Savior rescues us from sin that the spoils are ours for the taking. Out of the dungeons of pain come the plunder of compassion, wisdom, empathy, peace, faith, love, and more.
We can do the same. We can use the plunder we have gathered and give a share back to God to beautify and build His Church – the people He longs to rescue. What we have gained from imprisonment, we can use to comfort others in similar circumstances and help them find freedom too.
The choice is ours. We can either live as scarred survivors with a haunted past, or as grateful prisoners set free, using our plunder to point the way to Jesus.