Friday, August 29, 2008

Colossians 3:22-25

Sorry I haven’t posted for a few days! I was subbing in fourth grade for a dear friend the first three days of school. It was fun to be back in the classroom for a few days, but I am quite happy to be sitting back in front of my computer once again this morning! I promised to get us through Colossians by the end of the summer. It looks like we will spill a bit into September due to the days I was forced to miss posting. But Monday begins the last chapter-- so hang in there!

Day 20

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.


Paul continues to apply his instruction to the specific living situations his readers may have found themselves in. Yesterday we looked at family relationships. This morning we examine the relationship between slaves and their masters. While none of us are technically slaves, if you receive a paycheck, you are answerable to someone as you labor. So all of us can benefit from Paul’s instruction here.

Paul gives several instructions in how slaves are to obey their masters.

1. Not with external service, but with sincerity of heart.

This verse reminds me of whenever my small children had a fight. After hearing both sides of the story, I would bring the children together and require an apology from all sides, since the innocent party was rare. Sometimes the apologies would be almost comical if they weren’t so full of anger. “SORR---YYY,” a child would intone, their voice and facial expression both very clearly conveying that the required apology was less than genuine.

Slaves would be tempted to give a minimum effort, with a bad attitude just below the compliant surface, since the benefit for any effort would go to the master alone. We also might be tempted to give just such a half-hearted effort ourselves, especially if our supervisor appears less than competent or demonstrates other “unforgivable” flaws. Yet Paul warns against this kind of justification.

Key to Paul’s argument is what he stated back at the beginning of the chapter: Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. We no longer walk as though our life is centered on earthly things. We serve a higher power and live for a bigger purpose than pleasing men.

2. Work as for the Lord, rather than for men, knowing you will receive the reward of the inheritance from the Lord.

Paul observes that the people who rule over slaves are their masters, but clarifies they are masters on earth. Slaves are to obey them, but do so for the Lord. For in the end, their reward will be from the Lord and not from men.

Paul’s main point is this: It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Our salvation touches every part of us. We are wrong if in our thoughts we try to compartmentalize our Christianity into neat little boxes. In reality, who we are in Christ spreads itself through every part of our being. Once saved, every part of our lives belongs to Him. How we act in our jobs and in relationships will all be affected. It is like spaghetti, not waffles!

Should we refuse to please God in this way, it should not surprise us when we suffer ill effects from our less than stellar service. I have seen Christians assume they are being persecuted at work for their beliefs when in reality they suffer because they are incompetent or behave in an obnoxious manner. The consequences Paul is speaking of here are earthly consequences, handed out by an earthly master. Being a Christian does not protect us from the consequences of our own sins against men.

How am I serving in my earthly responsibilities? Am I giving lip service or trying to slide by, excusing my lack of integrity by pointing the finger at my circumstances? Or am I serving the Lord wholeheartedly in whatever situation He has allowed me to be in? Make a set of goals for yourself that will live out the action Paul is commanding in this passage.

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