Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. Colossians 3:22
Verses 22-25 closely match Ephesians 6:5-8 –
“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.”
There are some differences in the two passages though which will be evaluated. So far, Paul has noted relations in the immediate family within the household. This one is almost as close, and maybe even closer, as far as daily contact is concerned. The term “bondservant” is as good as one can get from the Greek word doulos. The term applies to one who is bound to the service of another. This could be a voluntary subjection or an involuntary duty, and it can also go as far as being a slave.
Their rights were extremely limited even in the best of cases. In some instances, they had virtually no rights at all. And yet, there is the note of a reward, even for them, which will be fully revealed in verse 24.
For the Christian bondservant, Paul instructs them to “obey in all things your masters.” Despite the many difficult rigors often suffered under cruel masters, Paul simply makes the command. He doesn’t qualify it with, “If they are good masters,” nor does he give any hint that they have a right to rebel. The status of slaves or bondservants was simply a fact of life. Those who were so bound were to accept it. However, he does give a note concerning slaves elsewhere that is worth citing –
“Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.” 1 Corinthians 7:20, 21
However, as long as a person was bound, they were to be obedient to their masters. And yet, Paul adds on a descriptor for them to consider. It is a master “according to the flesh.” In other words, there are human limitations which are being spoken of here. Paul is implying that they are bondservants of Another as well, which is not according to the flesh. It is for this reason that they were to be obedient to their human master.
Paul then asks that such bondservants be obedient “not with eyeservice.” It is a word used only here and in Ephesians 6:6, and it appears to be a word invented by him. The use of it is to indicate someone who serves only when the eye of his master is present. When the master is out, he refuses to conduct his duties as he should. Paul says that this is inappropriate. Rather, a servant is to serve his master in the same manner as he would serve the Lord, which means at all times.
He next explains what that means by saying (not as) “men-pleasers.” This word is also found only here and in Ephesians 6:6. It indicates someone who is willing to please man rather than God. The idea of both of these words is that a bondservant is to look to his duties to his master (whether he is a good master or a crummy one) as if he was actually serving the Lord. In so doing, he would be a responsible representative of the Lord in the presence of his master. This is explained in the next words, “but as bondservants of Christ.”
By acting as a bondservant of Christ, even for his earthly master, he will then be doing it “in sincerity of heart, fearing God.” Paul puts a stress on the value of the heart being sincere in the performance of the bondservant’s duties. In this sincere attitude, a demonstration that one’s heart is directed toward a proper fear of God is seen. And it is God who looks upon the heart to determine the value of all people’s actions.
As we have a different system of employment in the world today, we need to adapt that system to Paul’s words. Rather than masters, we have bosses. However, we are to treat our bosses with the same respect that the bondservant is called to for his master. We are not to be employees who perform with mere eyeservice, nor are we to simply be men-pleasers. We are to act as if we are reporting to Christ, making the most efficient use of our time under the employ of our employers.
Life application: In the world, it is so easy to fall in with the “labor union” mentality. The liberal attitude, both in government and in private industry, says that it is OK to not work to the highest standard of integrity and diligence. But the Bible tells us otherwise. If you act like a democrat in your work environment by failing to give your all to your boss, you are not acting as the Lord would have you to work. It is time to mature out of your self-centered work attitude, and to become a devoted, dedicated employee. And this is regardless of the attitude of your employer. If you can’t deal with him, then it is you who needs to find another job. Think clearly! Apply the Bible and its precepts to your life! Be honoring of the Lord through your employment.
Lord God, help us to have a proper attitude in our employment. You would have us work our jobs as if we are working for Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. It isn’t always easy, but this is what You ask of us. In acting this way, productivity will be up, and whining would be down. Help us to not be whiners, but to be faithful employees who strive to seek Your honor before our earthly bosses. Amen.