Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and He has no favourites.Ephesians 6:9
What an interesting verse! A controversial verse too. I wonder if this comment of Paul’s “stirred up a hornets nest” in the church at Ephesus. (For my English as a 2nd language readers – stirring up a hornets nest means making people angry with you like swarming bees or hornets). Interesting that Paul should say that. Firstly it shows that some of the Christians in the Ephesian church had slaves. Wow, Christians having slaves. That’s shocking! No more shocking that many other cultural things we do. We can be cultural and biblical. We can be cultural and not biblical. Or we can be biblical and go against our culture. All aspects of human culture have to be considered in the light of the Word of God. Culture is just collective habits of the people around you who do things the same way. The things we do habitually are not necessarily right or biblical. Sometimes God wants us to change our habits or our culture to be more like Him. But often we appeal to our culture in order to excuse our practice.
So was it right for the Christians in the church in Ephesus to have slaves? And what on earth does Paul mean when he says “treat your slaves the same way”? What same way? What part of what he has said to the slaves is also to be applied to the masters? My goodness, could this thought go all the way back to mutually submitting to one another? Now that would be radical, you have to admit? I am going to leave you to ponder this verse for a while in its context and see what you make of it. I would love to hear from you as deliberate it and weigh up what Paul is saying here. It’s as we grapple with our culture in our efforts to be biblical that enables us to be more Christlike. So do it now. You may be surprised that there are things that you do which you oughtn’t and conversely things you oughtn’t which you do. Time to do a little self examination. A little attitude correction.! A little soul searching inspection. (a la Ray Steven – Have a Little Talk with Myself – Bible Gems 394)
I will just give you an example that I am grappling with at the moment in a cross cultural way. And it was confirmed by an Indonesian Chinese couple a few days ago. I find it bugging me and getting under my skin. The problem is not a practice of mine but a cultural practice of the Chinese Indonesians around me. It is so prevalent that I encounter this practice almost every day. It concerns the lifts in the building where we live. When I come to the lift in the lobby to go up to the apartment I look behind me to see if there is someone following me and if there is I hold the lift door for them so they can enter as well an! d not have to wait for the next lift. But do you think they will do that for me. NO. In fact the very same people who I may have done it for yesterday will the next day enter the lift, see me coming a few paces behind and then actively shut the doors and go up on their own. Interesting. At first it annoyed me and made me angry. Then I thought, I am not going to let their bad habit affect my day. So I will keep doing what I think God would want me to do. So I keep holding the lift for people and keep having the door slammed in my face as well. Some times if I am there in time and can squeeze my fingers in the gap in the closing door I manage to get in. But no response from the people or person in the lift at all. At times it bugs me but am working on my attitude. I will keep doing good and being Christ to them even though “it may be thrown in my face literally”. I notice it seems to be primarily the Chinese who do this. But I would never say that or single them out – until now.
Talking with a Chinese – Indonesian couple a few days ago I was shocked to find it is a frequent occurrence perpetrated by the Chinese. It is a cultural practice that needs changing. There must be something behind it all that is driving it. I haven’t a clue what but have to grapple with it everyday. I was shocked when the couple (a Chinese couple) told me they encounter the same thing at the hands of the Chinese, and bear in mind they are Chinese. It is that fact that has made me bold enough to use this example. Other wise I could be accused of being racist or at best culturally inappropriate. No, sometimes our bad practices have to be exposed in order for us to live more Christ-like. What shocked me enough to be making these comments? Hearing that this couple experience the ex! act same thing in their apartment building. But for them it is worse. They have young children and a stroller. Frequently, they come to lift in the lobby with stuff and kids in the stroller and have to wait for the next lift. So they stand their by the lift as other people gather. When the lift comes the others all push past them, fill the lift and the close the doors on the face of the couple still standing there (first in line before) with the stroller and kids. You see it is much easier to squeeze past a couple with a stroller to secure a space in the lift for yourself and be totally oblivious to the injustice you are perpetrating. That is a bad cultural practice. That is a practice which needs changing. One I am grappling with at the moment and trying to control my feelings as I do.
Many times the Israelites were admonished by the prophets because they were just like the Gentiles or the non-believers when they should have known or been better. Interesting challenge.
What does Paul mean by treat your slaves in the same way”? Something for you to ponder. I realize I am taking a risk here in using this example. The mega church we attend and many of whom get these Gems are predominantly Chinese. I may be stepping into hot water here. Do you think that worries me? Not at all. Sometimes our bad practices need to be called into question. Time to question your own habits. Someone tweeted in response to a gem a week ago, saying they felt they had been “tweet slapped” by Ian Vail. Well I guess here’s another one. But I think you would agree with me – much needed.
God’s Truth can be found in all human culture; but no one human culture contains all of God’s truth. We have to discern the non-biblical components of our culture.Charles Kraft
‘If you are kind, people will accuse you of selfish motives; be kind anyway.
The good you do today, most people will forget; do good anyway.
Give the world the best you’ve got and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.
In the final analysis it’s between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.Mother Teresa
It’s easy to love people like you! To grow in love, God will bring unlovely people into your life so u can practice real love.Rick Warren
A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.Anon
Be nice to people on the way up; you may! meet them coming down. (Couldn’t resist including this one with this Gem)Ian Vail
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.Anon