Slavery was a reality, taken for granted, in the Greco-Roman world and in the era of the New Testament. If you read everything Paul had to say about slavery you can see that it was his hope that slaves would be set free. See Philemon. Here in verse 9, Paul reminds the masters that both the slave and the master are under the reign of the ultimate master, Christ Jesus. We all serve somebody.
Christians were a minority in the Greco-Roman world and so there was always the teaching that Christ-Followers should be model citizens and model servants/slaves if that was their situation in life. There was the belief that transformed individuals would be a transforming and redemptive force in their world for Christ and His Kingdom. It is so very interesting that through the work of William Wilberforce in England that the British abolished slavery without a civil war. If you have not yet seen the movie, Amazing Grace I highly recommend it.
Now, what to do with this passage on slavery? Often Paul describes himself as a slave/servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and he reminds followers of Jesus to remember that too. So, can we say each day that we “7 Serve wholeheartedly,…” Can we say to ourselves, “Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.”
Do we serve this way in the church, at work, in our homes, and in our community? May we improve our serve this day for Jesus’ sake; for sharing the transforming love and grace of God wherever we go and wherever we work. How’s your Serve, this day?
Bob Dylan’s song “Gotta Serve Somebody” always challenges me to think about who I ultimately serve and how I serve. Perhaps it will prompt you to reflect on your service too.