August 29 - Ephesians 6:5-9

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 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. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. 

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.

After Paul spoke to husbands, wives and children, there was one last member of many households that he spoke to – slaves.  The fact was that this was a real occurrence and Paul wasn't using this platform to change standard practices, but to speak to households … where people lived.

What is interesting about this passage is that most writers appealed to masters to treat their slaves well. Paul, though, reminded the slaves that they were part of the kingdom of heaven and as members of that community, they had responsibilities to act with respect and love while on earth.

This pattern for living has been transferred to us today … as Christians, we call ourselves bondservants or slaves to Jesus Christ. Anyone that we serve while on earth is to get the same reverence and respect that we give to him.

Paul knows something that many of us have forgotten. What happens to our bodies on the outside does not affect the relationship we have with Jesus Christ. That is something that no master or ruler can take from us, no matter how hard they try.

If we were to ask Chinese Christians what it would take for them to give up their relationship with Jesus, they would tell us there was nothing on earth. These people have faced more than many. They have lost family members … spouses, parents and even children because they refuse to renounce Jesus. They have been imprisoned, tortured and beaten and still refuse.

Slavery is a horrific crime against humanity, but for those who are part of the kingdom of heaven, it is only temporary.

Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus,
Steal away, steal away home.
I ain’t got long to stay here.