1 Timothy 6:1 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.

Two things strike me about this passage today:

  1. This can be a difficult passage to read in how it speaks to the issue of slavery. Now that we live in a day and age when most slavery has been abolished – many years ago – our expectation might be for the apostle Paul (the author) to rail against the institution of slavery. After all, some of the most prominent voices for the abolition of slavery in the western world were Christians.

But that’s not what we read here.

Did Paul support slavery? We don’t really know. What we do know is that Paul is a man of his time. And in Paul’s time slavery was a simple reality. Given that reality, Paul offers guidance to believers who were also slaves.

2. Paul encourages slaves to give their very best in their work, even if that work is done within the institution of slavery. You and I are not slaves, but this is a good word for us as well. Not that we should become slaves, but that we should offer our very best in our work. For in giving our best we represent our risen Lord Jesus – who gave his all for the sake of all people.

Lord Jesus, today we thank you that institution of slavery has been abolished in most of the known world. We no longer view people as property, but as human beings worthy of respect and dignity. Give us grace to fully live into this ideal, because the truth is we have a ways to go. And also give us grace to put our best foot forward in our work, where more and more people are strangers to the church and to you. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.

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