1 Timothy 6:1-2 Guarding our honour by entrusting ourselves to those who are mature
1 Timothy 6:1-2
All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. 2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
Paul addresses master-servant relationships calling believers to honour their masters. At the same time, believers are not to abuse the fellowship of their believing masters by disrespecting them. But to serve by going beyond the call of duty especially those who are devoted to good works. In today’s devotion, we learn that it is through the virtues of believers that God’s kingdom is established in their midst. At the same time, we must be careful to guard our honour by entrusting ourselves to those who are truly mature.
All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor…
Paul states in no uncertain terms that all servants or employees (all who are under the yoke) must harbour an attitude of honour towards their masters or employers; they are to regard them as worthy of all honour. This honour is derived from the God-given position as master over the employees. Honouring one’s master is tantamount to honouring God who is Master of all. If we honour someone, we listen and obey his words. Hence, honour or reverence is the ethic that keeps the organisation ordered and united in all her endeavours. In the practical sense, without due honour to one’s master, any organisation will fall into disarray with each tending to his own agenda. However, apart from the functional importance of according honour to one’s master, Paul urges the Christian employees to honour their masters in order that God’s name may not be spoken against and His virtues misrepresented. Honour towards earthly authorities is the core ethic of the Christian faith which is derived from one’s reverence towards God.
Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them…
Towards masters who are believers themselves, Paul urges the family of faith to accord the same honour without prejudice. Paul anticipates the laxing of honour towards masters within the Christian community. The virtue of respect towards superiors is considered as a common ethic even among unbelievers. Therefore, if Christians flout this rule, it will be detrimental to Christian integrity with respect to their identity as God’s children and the values He stands for. The righteous attributes of God might be misconstrued as a result. However, familiarity and intimacy (as a family under God) does not have to breed contempt. People who are immature associate honour and reverence with punishment; they will honour those who possess the authority to mete out punishment. For such, familiarity and friendship work counter to the master-servant relationship and erode the organisation’s chain of command. Hence, believers must mature in understanding that familiarity and honour are not mutually exclusive. While it is good and well to enjoy fellowship and intimacy as kins in Christ, honour towards one’s master which is vital to the line of command within the organisation and must be maintained at all cost.
but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved…
In addition to according honour to believing masters, Paul calls on the Christian community to serve them with greater dedication. Believing masters deserve unparalleled attention by virtue of the fact that they are fellow believers and beloved. When serving masters from the family of faith, believers must go beyond the call of duty to serve them better. While it is true to some degree where resources and priorities are concerned, the Christian community comes first. Another reason is: believing masters devote themselves to good works which justifies the unparalleled support due them.
It is through the virtues of believers that God’s kingdom is established in their midst.
The believer’s responsibility is to magnify God’s glory by establishing His kingdom throughout the earth. God’s kingdom and glory are established when His values system and rule are demonstrated through the lives of believers. Habakkuk declares the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth,
“For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
Hence, Paul is mindful of how believers behave in the midst of non-believers at the work place. It is through believers that the world see God dwelling in their midst and be reconciled with Him. Believers inadvertently affect how the world perceives Christ. In other words, the manner in which believers live has a direct impact on evangelism. While a virtuous Christian is a potent vessel in turning many to righteousness. The same can be said of an errant Christian as an equally potent vessel (in the hands of the devil) in turning many away from Christ.
Many churchgoers prided themselves on possessing the secrets to salvation and blessings. By virtue of the fact that they are sons of God, they are taught to be confident in all their endeavours as being the head and not the tail. As a result, many of them are perceived as prideful, audacious and mercenary cloaked in a shroud of divine grace and religion. In reality, true seekers are primarily concerned with reconciliation with God and being at peace with their conscience. Regrettably, the gospel has since in the days of the apostle Paul become a means of gain for many (see 1 Timothy 6:5). Now, it has become a different gospel, a nemesis of the true church that prides itself on worldly success, the end of which is sorrow and death. As a result, true seekers who cannot in their conscience find peace in such a gospel stay away from the church altogether. Nevertheless, the gospel that exhibits justice, mercy and humility as its crown jewels is a breath of fresh air that finds delight in the heart of God.
We must guard our honour and entrust ourselves only to those who are truly mature.
Paul admonishes believers to honour their believing masters and not to take advantage of their accessibility and fellowship. Such calls for maturity in handling relationships, being able to understand the inherent boundaries at play and not to cross them. Familiarity does not negate or put on pause the intrinsic positions of authority underlying all relationships. Hence, it remains for each to discern the readiness of his acquaintances before entering into more intimate spaces. Jesus, in knowing the hearts of all men did not entrust Himself to them (John 2:24). He does not share His personal details, plans or what He is thinking and feeling in His heart. As the privilege of accessibility (in fellowship) for most people erodes honour and breeds contempt. Hence, Jesus, in putting people at arm’s length keeps His personal space uncluttered and His relationships meaningful.
Many readily share their lives with others without discernment and proper boundaries. As a result, they suffer undue hurts and losses under unscrupulous associates. How do we discern the hearts of people? It is by keen observation over a period of time through which we see with clarity. People who make loyal and meaningful friends have the following traits:
a. They try to bring out the best in people but do not speak ill of others. James 4:11-12
b. They are concerned about what you think and speak what they truly feel, not what is politically acceptable. Matthew 5:37.
c. They endeavour to do the right thing but also readily confess their weaknesses. John 4:28.
d. They are not glib but will deliver what they have promised. Psalm 89:34.
e. They are emotionally wholesome and do not harbour brokenness and bitterness. Hebrews 12:15
Do you have a tendency to use relationship to cross boundaries and to get your way? The purpose of relationship is to build up, and not to manipulate another towards your course. Unscrupulous employees suck up to their bosses with tantalising words while jostling for pole position in his good books. This is a form of disrespect because it plays on manipulation and falsehood.
Do you evangelise by simply talking about God’s love and blessings? Are you apt at drawing people to church with the promise of a better life? Evangelism is not spiritual enticement of salvation and blessings, but a demonstration of abundant living and righteousness found in Christ. Salvation and blessings are in fact a by-product of a repented life, a life regenerated by the power of the Spirit. It is through your godliness, kindness and power that God’s kingdom is established in your midst.
Dear Lord, I desire to become the fragrance of Christ in my work place giving due respect to my bosses and colleagues. Use me to draw them to you through works of kindness and power. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.