30 July 2010

The Master Servant Relationship

1 Timothy 6:1-2 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

I want to bring out a spiritual application from the above passage, but feel compelled to offer a few brief notes of explanation first.

First, it is not necessary to offer an apology for what the NT has to say regarding the practice of slavery (1 Corinthians 7:20-24; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1; Titus 2:9-10; Philemon 1:12, 16; 1 Peter 2:18). The Bible neither endorses nor condemns the practice but addresses the situation as a matter of fact and provides instruction to both slave and master as to the proper treatment of the other. The Christian is never instructed in the scripture to make any attempt to deal with the social or political problems of a society or a nation. We are to be involved in something far more important – preaching the saving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, it is easy for me to say such things. I’m not a slave, and I’m glad I’m not a slave. My great-grandparents weren’t slaves, and I’m glad they weren’t slaves.

Personally, I’m glad that boatloads of Africans aren’t dying in unimaginable conditions over the Atlantic Ocean on slave ships. But it’d be good for us to be reminded that neither Wilberforce’s Slave Trade Act nor Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (no, I’m not a Lincoln lover; yes, I realize the EP had no legal bearing upon the slaves it supposedly freed; and yes, I realize it was more of a war strategy than anything else; stay with me, I’m making a point) – neither of those had any affect on the rest of the world. We far too often make the mistake of looking out at the world through red, white, and blue and thinking that it’s all hunky-dory everywhere like it is in the good ol’ US of A.

This article states, “There are an estimated 27 million slaves still in the world today. An estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year; approximately 50% of all victims are children; 126 million children work in the worst forms of child labor (1 in every 12 of the world's 5 to 17 year olds). There are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers involved in over 30 areas of conflict worldwide, some younger than 10 years old. These people have no choice over the course of their lives, no rights, and are often beaten, abused, and threatened with violence. Slavery is flourishing in many parts of the world, and it is every bit as ugly as it was 200 years ago.” Just good for us to remember.

Third, and back to point number 1, the reason the Bible doesn’t instruct the Christian to get involved in politics is that if we free all those 27 million slaves – and they die and go to hell – all of that time, all of that money, and all of that effort would be absolutely worthless.

That the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. To that unsaved master, that saved servant is a representative of Jesus Christ. To that unsaved servant, that saved master is a representative of Jesus Christ. To that saved master, that saved servant is a brother and a fellow-heir. To that saved servant, that saved master is a brother and a fellow-heir. There’s something more important than righting the societal wrong; there’s something more important than a political campaign against an outdated institution; there’s something more important than my rights or your rights. It’s the reputation of Almighty God; it’s the salvation of sinners; it’s the building up of the body of Jesus Christ.

Back to point number 2, that’s easy for me to say. Then again, the spiritual application makes points 1 and 3 easier to swallow. But that’ll have to wait for another post. Lord bless!

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