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.
Paul continues now in the third area of human relationship, that between master and slave (servant). In our day, it’s safe for us to accept that these principles apply just as much to employers and employees, since few of us live in a slave economy as they did in the first century. Beginning with the servants, Paul instructs them to honor their masters (employers) with their sincere best efforts and good attitudes, reminding them that they are really working for the Lord.
It would be more than fair to ask just how or in what sense a worker is working for the Lord in his or her job, so let’s remember that we have been redeemed for a purpose. The purpose for which we have been redeemed is to share God’s love with those around us, and when we are at work, we can show God’s love in the way we do our jobs and in the way we treat people. Recall that in marriage each party is to put the other ahead of themselves. In the parent child relationship, the same is true. In the workplace, Paul is spelling out once again this principle; workers, put the interests of the boss ahead of your own.
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, bosses and employers, the same principle applies to you; put the interests of your workers ahead of your own, you also are charged with sharing God’s love with those around you!
This relationship, like the first two illustrates an aspect of our relationship with God: Master and servant. Jesus is our Master, and as such He has given everything to redeem us to God and make possible the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. We are His servants, charged with putting the interests of His Kingdom ahead of our own.
I wonder, if we were to receive a “report card” from God, how would our grades look in each of these three areas of life? Hopefully we’d all receive high marks, but more likely each one of us has some need for improvement, after all, this life is a journey and we are all works in progress. My prayer is that all of us will prayerfully consider Paul’s instructions in this chapter.
OK, one more thrill-packed episode from Ephesians… the “season finale” you might say!