The call for Christ-centred relationships continues in this passage about slaves and masters. These principles also carry over into the contemporary workplace, and we can apply them to employees and employers.
‘’…just as you would Christ.’’ (5);
‘’…but like slaves of Christ…’’ (6);
‘’…as if you were serving the Lord, not men…’’ (7);
‘’…their Master and yours…’’ (9).
Paul says that slaves should treat their masters as they would Christ, for He truly is their Master. They really are His slaves. Ultimately, He’s the One paying the wages! (8).
If that seems revolutionary, think through what he says, by inference, to Masters (9). The message is, ‘You and your slaves are employees in the same company, and you have the same Boss!’ If Christian slaves were accountable to Christ so were Christian masters. They could only ever be ‘middle-management’, for they had Someone over them. (This is also true of non- Christian masters/bosses, even though they may not be aware of it. They are answerable to a higher authority.)
‘’Servants, respectfully obey your earthy masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ…And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free. Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.’’ The Message.
If the question should be asked, ‘Why did the early Christians not campaign against slavery, as William Wilberforce was to do in later years in the U.K.?’ The answer probably is that they couldn’t! They didn’t live in a democracy, but under an iron-fisted dictatorship. They couldn’t protest effectively about anything. However, it can be argued that teaching like this undermined the institution of slavery and sowed the seeds for its eventual destruction.
Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus that knowing you and wanting to serve you makes all the difference in every area of life. You change everything for good.