Man was created as an image bearer of God and one aspect of God’s image that man reflects is his ability to be creative and to work (cf. Gen. 1:26; 2:15). Those texts from Genesis reveal that it was God’s will for Adam to work. When did God provide Adam with the mandate to work? It is interesting to note that work is not something that came after the curse (Gen. 3); rather it is something that God required of man before sin entered into the world. Because God worked in creating this world and made man to be a worker, there is a dignity and worth in work. Recognizing that there is a dignity in work provides an opportunity to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all our tasks. The jobs that God gives us are opportunities and callings that He has sovereignly chosen for us. In 1 Timothy 6:1-2 we are introduced to the responsibility of slaves. The Bible does not teach that slavery is natural. Nowhere does Scripture condone or condemn slavery as an institution, but what it does is provide regulations concerning it. When talking about what is natural, we need to understand that slavery came as the result of a fallen world. Unlike marriage and the family, slavery was not grounded in creation (Eph. 5:31) and the moral law (Eph. 6:2). How does this relate to our current situation? We don’t have slaves and masters in our context, but the principles in this passage are the same in the employer and employee relationship. In this passage we will consider the believer’s responsibility to be a faithful witness in all work situations.
HOW TO BE A WITNESS WITH AN UNBELIEVING BOSS
He begins by providing instructions to those slaves who had unbelieving masters. This would have been the most common of circumstances for a slave. He says, “Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor” (6:1a). To be “under a yoke” refers to the fact that the slave was under the authority of their master. Instead of revolting or behaving in a disrespectful way, he says to “regard their own masters as worthy of all honor“. Because of his master’s position, the slave is to display the honor due him. What is the reason? Unlike the basis for marriage (creation) and family (the moral law), the basis for the slave’s submission is “so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled” (6:2a). Christian slaves ought to show their unbelieving masters honor because this is an opportunity to be a witness for Christ.
Believers have a unique opportunity to live out the gospel in the workplace. The testimony of our work ethic and respect to our employers will “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10).
HOW TO BE A WITNESS WITH A BELIEVING BOSS
In the second verse Paul provides instructions for the slave who has a believing master. He begins by saying “Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers“. Perhaps it was the practice of some believing slaves to take advantage of the fact that their master was a believer or they expected certain privileges. Such conduct must not occur among believing workers, as “they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved“. The point is that if the Christian worker is granted the privilege of having a believing employer; his service must then be outstanding.
Because there is dignity in working to the glory of God it is the mandate of God’s people to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all their tasks of work (paid and unpaid). Whether you are a banker or baker, barista or barrister, horticulturalist or homemaker, your job can shine forth the glory of God in what you do. As a Christian worker, our task in work is an opportunity to be a witness. Therefore remember, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24)