Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as thou! gh you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.Ephesians 6:5-8
- At times do you feel like a slave, to your work?
- To your family?
- To the ministry of the church?
- To _____________ (you fill in the blank)?
That is because you are one. You are a bond slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you began the Christian life you enter into the process of giving up your life to your Lord. If He truly is Lord. We sing “Reign Jesus Reign” imagining it to be in some grand scheme of things in the future, or maybe now but in the heavens. No, when you sing such songs, the first place He must reign is in you! If He is not reigning there; he is not reigning anywhere. Anyway all that begs the question of Paul addressing slaves.
There is some degree of controversy over Paul’s statement here. Does this mean he condones or supports slavery? Does this mean Christianity supports slavery? No of course not, but slavery was a fact of life in those days. Most households in the Roman Empire had slaves.! They were a fact of life. After every battle the Romans fought they would return marching the slaves before them. Then in the following days these new slaves would be sold in the market place to highest bidder. But we know what Paul thinks about slaves and slavery.
- 1Cor 7:21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it.
- 1Cor 7:22 And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.
- 1Cor 9:19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.
- Gal 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Gal 4:30 But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”
- Gal 4:31 So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.
- Col 3:11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.
If “Slave” and “Free” are the same and equal therefore either they are both slaves. Or they are both free. Or both and. Think about the concept for a moment. The slave went to the highest bidder, without any right to decide for themselves. You had no say in whether you would be a slave or not. You just had to accept it. It is like that for those bound in slavery today. There is nothing you can do about it. You are the possession of the highest bidder. And that is exactly what you are now. You are the possession of the highest bidder. Christ’s blood was the ultimate price paid. “You are not your own you have been bought with a price.” but we read above that “if we are a slave we are free in the Lord.” Paul was the first Abraham Lincoln. In his eyes all men and women were created equal. But even though we might place arbitrary categories on people, In Christ you are free; so live like it. Glorify God in all you do, even by being a slave. Be the best slave you can be. Especially knowing that you are serving Him.
Hence Paul says:
- Obey your earthly masters (while knowing you have a heavenly master above all)
- Obey them in fear and respect. (Lit: fear and trembling – being afraid – like any normal slave)
- Serve them sincerely (honestly, openly, genuinely)
- Try to please them at all times (not just when you know they are watching)
- Do it with enthusiasm as though it is the Lord you are serving.
Wow if you can do these things, and have this attitude you can rise above anything. That is both the challenge of the Christian life and the incredible release it brings. Even though you might be a slave you can live as though you are free. Now that is powerful stuff. Be the best slave you can be knowing all the while you are serving Him who has paid the highest price for your life. You are not your own you have been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God while you are in this body.
Just in case you missed it, of course this all fits under the submission theme. As slaves, do the will of God with all your heart – knowing that the will of God is for all of creation to submitted under the headship of Christ. Eph 1:9-10). If Christ is truly your head, your covering – then you can bear all kinds of human oppression.
Everyone is a slave to something and somebody. Choose your master wisely.Ian Vail
As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free.Martin Luther King
Conversely: if the mind is free the body is effectively free too.Ian Vail
What are you a slave of? Ponder this!
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re gonna have to serve somebody. (Gem 184)Bob Dylan