02 January 2012

We Are All Slaves Of The Master

Col 3:22-25; 4:1

As we continue looking at the family we see that slaves despite the negetive connotation stuck to the word slave, were apart of the family! But before we look at this passage to the family, we need to understand somethings about slavery! First thing we need to understand  is that its something that has been around for centuries! It goes as far back when Joseph was sold by his brothers to the slave market. During the Greco-Roman era slavery was part of the social structure; it was so common it was never questioned by anyone. Slavery was a part of all ages, gender even ethnical background. One fifth of the empire’s population were slaves, totalling as many as twelve million slaves at the outset of the first century AD. Aristotle said “slaves as things, or living tools.” The bible in no way condone this way of negative behaviour!Sin and man have distorted this way of living! Throughout the Old Testament we see that slaves were taken care of by their master. A slave never had to fear or worry about his or hers next meal.....clothing.....shelter! Though they might face challenging times of abuse..... its nothing in comparison to wickedness of men after the 1st and 2nd centuries. It was so bad there was one man who couldn’t keep silent no more! One of the biggest influences to see the elimination of slavery was William Wilberforce. William, was also urged by his close friend, Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, to make the issue his own, and was also given support by reformed Evangelical John Newton who played a major role in the conversion of young Wilberforce. The Slave Trade Act was passed by the British Parliament on 25 March 1807, making the slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire, Wilberforce also campaigned for abolition of slavery in the British Empire, which he lived to see in the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. After the 1807 act abolishing the slave trade was passed, these campaigners switched to encouraging other countries to follow suit, notably France and the British colonies. Between 1808 and 1860, the British West Africa Squadron seized approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard. Slavery has played a major role around the globe from the Middle East to the Shores of North American. But again, the accounts in the Bible found in the Old Testament and especially in the New Testament were to help first century believers understand our position and what was expected of us under the blanket of Christianity! This truth about slavery applies to you and me today [even though this wicked act has been abolished in many countries]

The apostle Paul uses a word that we would classify as negative, to show [help us to understand] how we are to behave in this present society as slaves today! A slave is someone is who is visibly different; because they belonged to someone....they were somebody’s property! The Christian life is very much the same! The world should be able to identify that we are not masters of our own domain; but that we are subject to a higher authority and power of God. Time and time again we see Christians being described as slaves of Christ or slaves in general which comes from the original Greek word “doulos”. This word is used over 250 times in the original manuscripts. Where most modern English translations going back as early as the KJV 1611 substitute the word “slave” for “servants” this is because of........the stigma or negative connotation attached to the word “slave” in our present society! There's a huge difference between the word slave and servant. A servant can quit at any time, but a slave is under the complete authority of the master. As John MacArthur said in his book [Slave] “to be a Christian was to be a slave”. Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John said “Bind up your loose robes and serve as God’s slaves in reverential fear and truth.” The Shepherd of Hermas wrote this in his second century letter “there are many [wicked deeds] from which the slave of God must refrain.” Why? Because we are slaves but in a good way! And we can learn a great deal in how to be good slaves from this portion of Paul’s letter. As children of God saved by His grace we are purchased from the slave market and He [Jesus] is our master.

We are slaves of Christ and Paul defines what a slave of Christ looks like! Look at (v22) “obey in all things your masters” [referring to both enjoyable and distasteful duties] according to the flesh. Paul wrote to Timothy to remind the church . “Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled [blasphemed].” 1 Tim 6:1. Not with “eyeservice, as men pleasers” This is only external service seeking the praises from men! Basically working only when the boss is around! Work breaks extend until the boss returns. Eye service results in half done jobs.....The room is swept, but the dirt is swept under the carpet. This way of living gives a false impression and its wrong! You can say the same about coming to church or the Christian life.You come to church in your Sunday bests and acting all Christian- like around people but live like the Devil when nobody is watching. That is a dangerous way to live your life....because it’s nothing but religion! The bible says.....“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Gal 6:7. This not how it’s suppose to be! Our service is to be done with a heart of adoration to God because He see’s all things. We are to Obey in all things with all sincerity as unto the Lord. This literally can be translated “a singleness of heart” which is an undivided mind, a simple intention of doing right, without looking any farther. Our undivided mind is to be focused on Christ alone.....the One who gets the pre-immense in our lives. In Eph 6:5-6 Paul said “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,” Even when you’re being mistreated......we are to do all things with a sincerity of heart. Have you ever been disciplined at work or chewed out by your boss? In 1 Peter 2:18 it says “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.” Why? We serve a holy God who sees all things! And He is not ignorant to your present circumstance. I can do all things...handle all things through Christ who strengthens me!

It’s a Christian life that’s not self seeking or looking for gratification...but desiring to please the one who enlisted him or her into the body of Christ. (v23) “do it heartily unto the Lord” Heartily means putting your entire inner man into the effort! Giving your 110 percent! Not by mere force and necessity, grudgingly, and with murmurings, but from the heart, and with good will, having a true, real, and hearty affection for their master We are to labour from the heart “whatever you do, do it [work at it]” As Paul said the Romans “Do not be slothful [lazy, slow, idle] in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Rom 12:11. We are to work from the soul! Everything we do is to be for His glory. If you clean washrooms or a CEO of company do it unto the Lord. If you teach or drive school bus do it unto the Lord. If you Farm, collect honey and whatever else; do as unto the Lord. If you’re wife, husband, mother or father obey the instruction given to you and live out your roles heartily as unto the Lord. If you’re a young person here obey your parents by living out your life as unto the Lord. If you are born again by the mercy that flows through the Gospel of Jesus Christ do everything with passion and zeal as unto the Lord. Do all things unto Him [the true Christian life] and not seeking to please men [which is being religious]. The opposite of this is the Pharisee’s in the temple when Jesus confronted them in their religion. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matt 23:25-28.  See! The word of God is very clear about how we are to live under the Master “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.” 2 Cor 5:9 “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.” Rom 14:8. “but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 1 Thess 2:4. He has entrusted us with the truth of His precious word and we are to do all things whole heartily unto Him. The Christian life is to display the characteristics of Christ to a world that is under the weight and bondage of sin.

Working hard at our tasks from the heart brings glory to God. Why are we to do this? The simple answer can in (v24). We “know” by our heart adoration though obedience to our master that we will receive our reward or inheritance.What does that reward or inheritance look like? Go back to the beginning of chapter 3! It's a life that will forever look into the eyes of our master the one that saved and removed us from the slave market of death and eternal destruction. God knows what those who have gone through so much in this earth and He hasn’t forgotten what their reward is.

Paul, reminds us though that God is omnipotent and omniscient by what he writes next (v25) We always need to understand that God deals with obedience and disobedience without impartiality! God knows the heart of man and where it’s true desire lies. The parable of the Talents is a prime example of a God who shows no favourites, but desires obedience. In  Matt 25:14-30 there were three slaves.....and they were given a certain amount of talents...while the master was gone for a period of time. A talent was a measure of weight, not a specific coin, for example: a talent of gold was more valuable than a talent of silver. Two of the slaves applied themselves diligently with their natural gifts as service unto the Lord. They both doubled the amount of money that they had received while the master was gone. And the Lord rewards the first two with this truth......'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' Matt 25:21; 23. The third person did nothing and hid his talent in the ground. The master came back and said these words........”You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 25:27-30. This parable is very clear! The Master represents Jesus Christ. His prolonged absence pictures the time between Christ’s ascension and His second coming. The three slaves are professing believers who have been entrusted, as stewards, with various resources, abilities, blessings and opportunities and one day everyone will all have to give an account for that stewardship. The first two slaves represent true believers by what we read in this parable.The third slave represents a person who claims to be a Christian but in reality serves himself..............lazy and slothful. This slaves response is that he has no desire or love for the master [Jesus Christ].

Paul tells us that everything we do is to be done out of adoration to the master our Lord Jesus Christ. For what he has done on the cross! By breaking the chains that held us in bondage to sin and Satan. We serve a might King [Master] who demands our complete obedience and allegiance to Him! Why? Because we are His slaves and He is our Master. The Christian home....the workplace.....the local church.....the Christian life are to be places where we live as stewards of Heaven. Why? Because our Master is seated on the Throne in all His glory and we are His representation until He comes back again! As the Hebrew writer so eloquently put it.....“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” Heb 12:28. The Sunday question is.......How are you representing the King in your Life? Which one of the slaves are you in the parable that Jesus told to His disciples? Who truly is your master.... right Now?

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