Paul is addressing his last group regarding authority in our reading today. He is addressing masters and bondservants. This is not roles that many of us come into contact with today so I want to look at it as employer and employee.
I was curious about the term “bondservant” so I googled it (of course). My favorite questions site Got Questions gave me some more insight. I already knew about how a servant can voluntarily become a “bondservant” by choice. But I didn’t know if the term bondservant applied to any other kind of servant or slave. According to my source it does, but we are going to focus on the bondservant spoken of in the law. This was the willing servant who chose to serve his master for life.
Since we are using employer/employee as our comparison role I will state that I recognize that our roles are not lifelong commitments. Another difference is that the employee requests this position of the employer whereas a servant is initially pressed into service against his will. But the bondservant requests his further role.
The first thing Paul instructs the bondservant/employee to do is to “obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ” (verse 5). God expects us to obey our employers. We have been hired on to do a job and we are to take instructions and do as we are told. This doesn’t exempt us from obeying God’s law above the employer’s, as in committing a crime because the employer instructed us to. We are to use wisdom in that situation. But do the job you were hired on to do with a sincere heart. Don’t do it halfway. Do it to the best of your ability.
Your service should run deeper than just being there to get a paycheck. You are giving of yourself and your talents with every task you do. Your efforts should benefit your employer. Your loyalty and sincere good work will be rewarded, if not now, then by God.
For the master/employer, Paul calls for them to serve also. “Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening” (verse 9). Jesus calls those in authority to be the servants of all. This translates into caring for your employees beyond what they can provide for your business. Care about them as people. “Stop threatening” them is a great first step. Have you ever heard “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar”? It is much easier to motivate an employee with constructive words than with threats. No one wants to work for someone who is always threatening them, whatever that threat may be. There will be times when an employer has to terminate the employment of an employee but even then it should be done with consideration. And if the employee is living by Paul’s instructions there shouldn’t be a need to terminate services.
We are all Jesus’ bondservants. We chose to seek to be put into His service. We asked Him to become our Master. We are to serve Him with all our heart, mind, and body. We can be certain that He welcomes our service and will train us each day to do the jobs He assigns us to. He also won’t ever terminate our services. Job security! Eternal security.
Father God, thank You that I am Your bondservant. Thank You for allowing me the opportunity to join Your “team.” Thank You for all the jobs You have entrusted to me over the years. Thank You that You don’t punish me when I mess up while doing them. Thank You that You make sure the overall result meets Your satisfaction. I can rest assured that I will NEVER mess up your plan beyond Your ability to fix it. I want to serve you with my whole heart. Remind me of that when I come to You halfhearted. Please forgive me for doing so on so many occasions. I love You and want that love to shine through in all I do.