Bondservants be Obedient. After dealing with family relationships, Paul now moves to some more general relationships in his quest to teach us to be obedient to the Lord.
5 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.
Ephesians 6:5-8, NKJV
After dealing with family relationships, Paul now moves to some more general relationships in his quest to teach us to be obedient to the Lord. Verse 5 addresses bondservants. We tend to think of this as only addressing slaves, which were common in Bible times. However, we are not wrong to include in this admonition, the relationship between employers and employees. We could, without doing damage to Paul's meaning, say, "Employees, be obedient to your managers."
What a difference would our workplaces be if all believers took these verses to heart? What do we commonly see in the work environment, even among professing Christians? In most of my places of work, especially if I worked for a large company, employees complained and murmured against the company and against their bosses. Yet, what suggestions does Paul make as to the correct attitude for believers? He actually has several points in these verses.
Be obedient to those who are your masters ... with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ. In other words, when we are given directives from our bosses, whether we like those directives or not, we need to think of them as coming directly from Christ, Himself. Of course, it goes without saying that we are not to disobey God's Word, but if we are given requirements in doing our jobs which don't violate the Word of God, we are to obey our masters cheerfully and without complaint.
I love the next part of this sentence. "Not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men." In other words, we are not to be "brown nosers" so that we will look good in the eyes of our boss or other employees. We are to obey our managers cheerfully because we, as bondservants of Christ, know that this is pleasing to God. It always comes back to the heart attitude, does it not?
How does Paul complete this section? "Knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free." And, that makes all the difference! Our goal in this life is not to please men. Our goal in this life is to please God. Everything we do, think, and say needs to be done, thought, or said with the heart-attitude of "what is most pleasing to God?"
Are these easy directives to obey? No! Are we able to do this in our own power and strength? No! The society in which we live is a rebellious, self-centered society. Most people are only motivated by what looks good to other people. They are the ones who work hard when the boss is around and then slow down when the boss walks away. They are the ones, also, who are most critical of believers in the workplace who are attempting to live their lives in a manner which is pleasing to God.
Let us pray, that even in this narcissistic, 21st century culture, we will look to Christ to help us live our lives, even at the workplace, in a manner which is pleasing to God and not necessarily to men, so that we may find ourselves to obey the command, bondservants be obedient.