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All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching.

Monday 03 October

1 Timothy 6:1
It’s hard for us to imagine what it must have been like to live in a society where slavery was normal. Between ten and 20 per cent of the population were slaves in Roman times, so it was an issue with which everyone was familiar. Because the members of the early Church were largely drawn from the poorer parts of society, it is likely that the proportion of Christians who were slaves was much higher. It was vital, therefore, that Paul addressed the question of how Christian slaves should act towards their masters, and the fact that he does so in many of his letters shows what a major issue it was. Here, he tells his reader that Christians slaves must give their masters full respect. How tough that must have been, especially if their masters were unreasonable and cruel. And it does not mean that Paul, or Christianity more generally, condoned slavery. However, Paul knew that if slaves became Christians and then began to act aggressively and rudely towards their masters, it would give the Christian faith a bad name and potentially stop the gospel from spreading.

Paul’s words are of immense value to us today as we reflect on the relationship between employers and employees. The principles are the same. We must always act towards our employers with wisdom and respect, whether or not they share our Christian faith. For most Christians, the way in which their witness to Christ will be most easily seen is in the quality of their daily work. The opportunities to declare our faith in words may well be few and far between. But every hour of every day, people are watching our actions and trying to work out what sort of people we are. Let’s pray that the way in which we work today will point people to Jesus, even if we have no opportunity to say a single word.

QUESTION
What do you learn from Paul’s teaching about slaves and masters?

PRAYER
Loving Father, help me to live so close to you today that other people will be drawn towards you. Amen

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