April 21, 2021 – Wednesday
1 Timothy 6:1-2 NIV
1 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.
2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. These are the things you are to teach and insist on.
These directions are difficult and directed at those in the direst of circumstances, slavery. However, these directions were also directed to any who were in servitude, servants, and bondservants. We will here address those under the yoke of slavery as within the Roman Empire there were estimated to be over 60 million slaves. Timothy was ministering the church of Ephesus on the western most edge of what today is the nation of Turkey, clearly in the midst of the Roman Empire then.
Slaves came from war via defeated nations, kidnapping, being born into slavery, being sold into slavery, servitude (slavery for a period of time). Oddly enough, within the Roman Empire slaves could hold high and privileged positions while at the same time they could be treated like animals – possessions to do with as the owner pleased.
Within this paradigm it is no wonder many slaves became Christians with the wonderful hope of an unimaginable life in heaven. With a message of how Christ died for their sins and rose on the third day, if they repented and believed they could have this hope and hold it dear as something to truly look forward to. But how were they to behave or act once they had this hope? That question is what these two verses answer.
Just as we, in our time are a free people with masters who are our bosses or employers, they were to consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. And, just as in our time, their behavior might be the only Bible or gospel their masters ever knew. Many a boss or employer has been led to Christ by the example of someone who works under them. I am reminded of Richard Wurmbrand, author of Tortured for Christ, who was imprisoned and tortured for his faith for fourteen years. He and others prayed for those who imprisoned and tortured them, some of them were saved.
But what of masters who are already saved? How were slaves to behave then and how are we to behave today with bosses and employers who are also saved? Paul tells Timothy in verse two, Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. These are the things you are to teach and insist on. Strangely enough, many times Christian slave and Christian owner went to the same church, heard the same message and sometimes the slave held a position above the owner within the church. Still, as the verse tells us, owners of slaves who were Christians in Ephesus in the first century were devoted to the welfare of their slaves unlike (by implication) other slave owners. Respect such masters, do your best for them for they are your brothers in Christ. In today’s world, such positive behavior can even bring rewards. The best, the hardest, the most dependable workers are usually the very last to be laid off and often the first to be promoted or given a raise.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help me to always work in a way that honors you no matter what kind of boss or employer I happen to have. Let me find a way to honor you with my work. – In Jesus Name. Amen.