to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
December 02, 2019 – Monday
Colossians 3:20-24 NIV
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
This is not new. We read something very similar earlier in the letter to the church of Ephesus.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. 5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. Ephesians 6
This is interesting as each church would have the letter sent to the other in a short period of time – likely one or two years at the most. Just as in the letter to the Ephesians, the Greek word for obey is Strong’s G5219 hypakouo and defined as to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority:—hearken, be obedient to, obey.
Now, looking at verse twenty first Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Anyone who has children or has raised children or remembers their own childhood surely has a memory of a parent or parents saying “Are you listening to me?” or “Did you hear what I said?” Clearly part of a child’s direction to obey parents is to actively listen when they are being spoken to by their parents. If, or rather when, a child learns to pay attention to his or her parents, then they are all the more likely to pay attention to what the Lord is saying in His Word.
Moving to verse twenty-two and those following let’s first look at Strong’s again for the definition of slave. It is G1401 doulos and is defined as a slave (literal or figurative, involuntary or voluntary; frequently, therefore in a qualified sense of subjection or subserviency):—bond(-man), servant. Clearly it could mean a literal slave or it could mean someone working for another. Slavery was very common throughout the Roman Empire during the time this was written and in many places the slaves actually outnumbered those who were free. Beyond that there were many businesses with numerous employees. I mention all of this as the instruction for slaves herein could/would also apply to any of us working for someone in some organization or business. There is a reason we sometimes call our bosses ‘slave masters’ when they have little or no concern for those who work under their direction.
However, the directions for slaves are for Christian slaves or employees today. The directions are for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, repented of their sins, turning their lives around living for Jesus. Thus we are to obey our earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on us and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. And Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. These directions change the how and why we act as we approach our jobs. It’s no longer to get ahead or to get a promotion (not bad things in and of themselves), but instead doing the will of God from our heart.
Oddly Paul did not give instructions for masters (Christian masters) as he did in Ephesians where he went on to write And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him. Masters were warned! Whether a master in first century Rome or an employer/manager/supervisor today, as a Christian you were given instructions on how to treat those who fall under you in the chain of command. Jesus will show no favoritism for anyone’s position.
Consequently, as a Christian we have directions on how to treat people. Treating them according to the directions given shows evidence of one’s faith. We are to live our faith and put it into action especially with those around us.
(to obey is better than sacrifice /obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)