“Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ, not like those who do their work only when someone is watching — as people-pleasers — but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart. Obey with enthusiasm, as though serving the Lord and not people, because you know that each person, whether slave or free, if he does something good, this will be rewarded by the Lord.
Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”
(Ephesians 6.5-9, NET)
Often when we are walking through the Old Testament the topic of slavery comes up (here, for example) and we have to accept that slavery then worked differently to how many of us picture slavery now.
Then we roll into the New Testament and there is less of a case to be made for definite difference. Yes, sure, there were many legitimate reasons why people would be described as slaves or bondservants, but essentially they were in the exclusive and un-avoidable employ/service of another. It was possible to own slaves and therefore have ultimate control over their lives ¹. Into this environment came the Gospel.
Rather than incite rebellion the Christian counsel is to obey your human masters…as to Christ…to obey with enthusiasm, as though serving the Lord…To live out the truth that all people are equal in image, worth, dignity, and value (Genesis 1.27) takes far more courage than to rebel and revolt against the structures which enforce otherwise.
On the other side of the coin, those who would formerly rule over their household staff with an iron fist are now exhorted to treat [them] in the same way, [to give up] the use of threats…This is all based on the truth that whether slave or free, Jew or Greek, male or female, we are all equally valued and loved by God and this should be evident in how we interact with one another (Galatians 3.28).
I would encourage you today to take stock of the relationships you have in a work setting. Are you treating everyone with the same dignity, respect, and grace regardless of their roles of responsibilities?
“…because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”
¹ – https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/nero-man-behind-myth/slavery-ancient-rome