Even though there are nearly 25 million people who are working in forced servitude today, the people who read my blog aren’t.
We can read Paul’s message as information about how to make the good news of God’s love attractive at work and among our family and friends.
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered (1 Timothy 6.1).
Jesus could have easily been the most liberated person to walk the face of the earth. Instead, he surrendered his freedom for the sake of the gospel.
Jesus said, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors.
“But not so with you; rather, the greatest among you must become like the youngest and the leader like one who serves.
“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22.25-27).
Not only did Jesus tell the gospel story; he lived it.
When we imitate Jesus and serve our employers, family, or friends, our actions will accentuate the glorious nature of the good news.
Jesus made the good news of God’s love his primary purpose in life. It will be easier for us to serve others, when we realize that our actions will, like Jesus, put the gospel on display.
Early Church Dynamics
First-century households were dominated by the husband. When the husband became a follower of Jesus, everyone in the family followed suit.
Slaves were part of the household and expected to be followers of Jesus. The fact that their master was a Christian did not give them permission to take advantage of the relationship.
Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers.
Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves (1 Timothy 6.2).
It is tempting to take advantage of an employer who seems “soft.” If the kindness of an employer is due to being a follower of Jesus, Christian workers should never be those who take advantage of the kindness of their boss.
When we fix in our minds that every act is a picture of the gospel, then it is easier to serve others in all situations to the best of our abilities.
We are a living presentation of the gospel and people are either drawn to Jesus because of our actions or repelled.
False Teachers and the Gospel
According to the latest Gallup survey, these are the least trusted professions in America.
— 10 – Judges
— 9 – Clergy
— 8 – Nursing Home Operators
— 7 – Bankers
— 6 – Journalists
— 5 – Lawyers
— 4 – Business Executives
— 3 – Advertising Practitioners
— 2 – Car Salespersons
— 1 – Members of Congress
It is great to know that clergy is not first on the list of untrustworthy people, but to be included in the top ten is a sad statement on religious behavior.
The gospel has suffered harm from false teaching and bad behavior. This is Paul’s counsel about such practices.
These are the things you are to teach and insist on.
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing.
They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions
And constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain (1 Timothy 6.2b-5).
A very sad example will illustrate Paul’s point.
Several years ago, a notable prosperity gospel church in Kansas City invited a traveling prophet to hold a service. It was early morning when many from the urban core arrived on busses to the church.
Following the message, the prophet invited the audience to receive personal prophecies about their future.
People lined up in three lines. The lines required offering in support of the prophet. One was for $5, another was $10, and the third was $20.
I don’t think I have to explain how this illustration fits Paul’s description of false teachers who are greedy for gain.
The consistent message of this passage is that followers of Jesus need to be the best communicators of the gospel, both in word and action.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
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