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Sunday, January 22, 2017 pm                                                         Ephesians Index

Studies In Ephesians (36)
BONDSERVANDS AND MASTERS
Ephesians 6:5-9

    Tonight, we continue our study going through the book of Ephesians.  The past 2 lessons we have been dealing with family relationships.  Tonight, we address another relationship as it relates to God’s word – the Bondservant-Master relationship. 

   In our society, though an ugly part of our history, slavery has been done away with.  While the Bible addressed this as something that was tolerated as part of society back then, it was a relationship that still required Christians to act like Christians – brethren.  In truth, scripture seems to point toward it being best that it be abolished (i.e. Matthew 7:12, cf. 1 Corinthians 7:20-22 – if you can be made free, use it.  Also the book of Philemon seems to point toward this (Philemon 12-16, 22-23)).   However, having said this, the New Testament is not written with the intent of overthrowing governments or changing social order or to engage in civil disobedience (short of Acts 5:29).  The gospel is about changing souls.  If enough souls are changed, society will correct itself.

   Having said that, is there still a lesson for us to learn from this text?  I believe there are lessons to learn, especially as they relate our employment.  We can apply these principles to the employer/employee relationship.  And that shall be our task this evening. 

 I.                     Bondservants (employees) – 6:5-8

a.       Bondservants - this could still be a part of the household.  Many households had servants, for various reasons.  Scripture gives examples of some recognized as part of the family and often entrusted (i.e. the “tutor” or “schoolmaster” entrusted with care of the children – Gal. 3:24).  But it is clear that not all were treated respectfully.  THAT behavior is condemned by our faith and in passages such as our text addressed.  In summary, servants were to be respectful to their master and the master was to be respectful to the bondservant. 

b.       Our text

                                                   i.      Be obedient to those who are your masters (employers) – repeated in passages about this relationship more than any other.  Simply stated, we need to do our jobs! 

                                                 ii.      With fear and trembling (humility) – a realization that we are going to one day give an answer for the we conduct ourselves in every relationship.   Consider Philippians 2:12, work out your own salvation “with fear and trembling. 

                                                iii.      In sincerity of heart, as to Christ (sincerity) – the KJV uses the word, singleness.  It is a word that means to do something with undivided attention.  What we do is with focus.  Not done with ulterior motives.  Your boss has a right to have you give your best.  This is not always popular today, and from what I hear, far too many places have far too many whose motives and attitudes are NOT with sincerity (singleness).   But we are different!  We need to do our job!

                                                iv.      Not with eyeservice, as men pleasers (honesty) – not superficially.  Not doing just enough to get by.  The is what we call the “work ethic”.  Sadly, this word includes those who only work hard when the boss is around, or when there is some incentive attached to it, or just enough to get by.  Also, let us consider this with our attitudes – we should not work with bitterness, complaining all the time, criticizing everything (especially when the boss can’t hear it), etc.

                                                  v.      As bondservants of Christ – doing the will of God from the heart.  NOTICE how doing our job properly is “the will of God”.  If we desire to please Him, it will be reflected in our work habits and ethics.   Colossians 3:23, dealing with the same subject we are told, whatever we do, do it heartily, as to the Lord. 

                                                vi.      With goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men (cheerfully) – graciously and gladly do your work.  Even in trying situations, you strive to maintain a good attitude.  This is good for you and could have an impact on others as well.  At the very least, you will not be contributing to a poor work environment. 

                                              vii.      Knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether slave or free – sometimes, in our jobs, we feel unappreciated – and it may not be unwarranted.  But know this, if you are doing your best and doing what is right and good, God knows.  Let Him reward you!  Galatians 6:7 tells us that whatever we sow, that is what we will reap.   In fact, don’t forget 2 Corinthians 5:10 – we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and answer for what we have done. 

c.        Other texts – as we read these, we will not extensively comment on them, but notice some other thoughts.  Most of them, in one way or another, enhance our text. 

                                                   i.      Colossians 3:22-25 – obey in all things, do it heartily as to the Lord.  Similar to our text.

                                                 ii.      1 Timothy 6:1-2 – count your masters with honor.  Do not despise believing masters, but rather serve them.  If you are privileged to work for brethren – do well. 

                                                iii.      Titus 2:9-10 – well pleasing, not answering back or pilfering, showing good fidelity (honesty).  Live as a proper example, seeking to win them to the Lord

                                                iv.      1 Peter 2:18-20 – be submissive and do your job, not just to the gentle, but even to the harsh.  The ungodliness of others is no excuse for you to act ungodly.

                                                  v.      NOTE: Do these passages mean that we should not quit a job that is bad?  Not necessarily!  Your job is a part of your life and your wellbeing.  Scripture does not tell you to remain in miserable circumstances when you can change that without spiritual compromise.  But as long as we are there, we need to realize who we are representing first – our Lord and our God.  And, who knows?  Maybe your example there could influence someone toward the truth.  Furthermore, make this decision seriously – i.e. you are still required to provide your living, etc.  In other words, don’t act rashly!  (Example: If possible, don’t quit a job until you have another one in place).

 II.                   Masters (employers, managers)

a.       Our text – Ephesians 6:9

                                                   i.      Do the same to them – be a Christian in your dealing with your employees.  Consider some of the qualities we have addressed – fear and tremble at the presence of God (humble), sincerity in dealing with your workers, not hypocritical in what you do, with good will toward your employees, and a realization you too will answer to God. 

                                                 ii.      Don’t threaten them – don’t be harsh and overbearing.  Don’t be someone workers fear.  Don’t make threats your primary motivating factor.  Don’t create an environment where the only reason someone is there is they have to be.  (NOTE: No this is not saying, you cannot expect good work and you let your workers take advantage of you, or discipline them when needed).
Colossians 4:1 tells you to give them what is just and fair, the same way you want God to give to you. 

                                                iii.      Realize you serve God – you have a master to whom you WILL answer one day.

                                                iv.      There is no partiality with Him – God will be impartial.  You be impartial also.  Treat your employees fairly and consistently. 

b.       Other texts

                                                   i.      Colossians 4:1 – Be just and fair

                                                 ii.      Matthew 7:12 – remember the golden rule.  Think about this always.  How would you want to be treated in a given circumstance? 

                                                iii.      James 5:4 – judgment for those who defraud.  Many parables address employers

 III.                 Apply this spiritually

a.       We are bondservants of Christ (6:6)

                                                   i.      NOTICE how some 5 times in these verses, our conduct in this is related to our conduct to Christ.
Romans 6:16-18 tells us that we are now slaves of Christ.  22 – slaves of God.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – as individuals – your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We were bought with a price and we belong to God.

                                                 ii.      1 Corinthians 4:1-2, while speaking primarily of the apostles, speaks of us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mystery of God.   Stewards are to be faithful.
1 Corinthians 15:58, be steadfast… always abounding in the work of the Lord…

b.       Are we applying these standards to our service to Him?

                                                   i.      Are we obedient with fear and trembling?

                                                 ii.      Are we sincere of heart?

                                                iii.      Is our service to Him with “eyeservice, as men-pleasers?  That is, is our faith superficial and only to fool others into thinking we are fine?  Consider Matthew 6:1-2, 5, 16, etc.

                                                iv.      Do we act with goodwill toward Him?

                                                  v.      Do we serve Him in hope, knowing that we will receive “the same from the Lord”?

 

As a part of the body of Christ, we realize that represent Him always.  Let us ensure we will conduct ourselves that way even in our work situations.  And of course, let us never forget that we are also working for God, and we can’t hide anything from Him.  How are you doing with your work?