Giving honor: Thoughts on a morning Bible reading

I read in 1Timothy 6 this morning (6:1,2 to be precise) the instructions given by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, who was to then share the information with those in the church he pastored/led at Ephesus. The passage relates to the behaviors, attitudes, & life outlook of “bondservants” (aka ‘slaves, servants, bond-servants, ones given over to the committed service of another,) toward their masters.

NOTE: Paul doesn’t address here the legality or propriety of slavery; it was merely a reality in the 1st century Roman Empire for approximately 20% of people living within the boundaries of the known Roman world. Therefore, in addition to all the other people groups Paul addresses, he also speaks to those Christians who happen to be serving (living their lives) as bondservants.

To them he says something to the effect: “Make sure to regard your masters as worthy of all honor, so that the Name of God & ‘the teaching’ won’t be hated.” (The teaching he references are the teachings related to living as a Christian, following Jesus Christ as Master, & other such things related to Christian worship.)

This passage got me into a ‘thinking loop.’ Here’s what jumped out:

  • Though he was free & was born a citizen of Rome, Paul regularly identified himself in his writings as “Paul, a bondservant of Christ.” He definitely is speaking here as one bondservant to another.
  • Paul doesn’t address any qualifiers for that honoring of their masters… there’s nothing about “if they’re honorable people, show them all honor.” They are simply to give their masters honor.
  • Since there are no ‘qualifiers,’ there’s also no loopholes. No options. This is it. This is what we do toward our masters.
  • The REASON we do this is for the Name (reputation) of Christ & all the teachings surrounding Christian worship. Our behaviors directly reflect on the REAL Master we serve, Jesus Christ, & as such, those behaviors, attitudes, practices are not subject to our feelings emotions, rights, privileges, etc. We’re living for Him, & showing that by how we relate to our earthly masters.
  • 1Peter 2:12 is of a similar vein to this Scripture – “live such good lives among the non-believers that even if they malign/speak poorly of you, your life & your good deeds will point directly to the reality of WHO God is & WHAT He’s like.” 

Not every passage in Scripture has a direct, one-to-one parallel to my daily life. But there are ALWAYS principles that show up that, if I’m paying attention, I can receive instruction from & gain insight that INFORMS that daily life. Like Paul, I can relate to being a bondservant of Christ. As such, I recognize the implications of that play out every day, in every area, in all I do. And when I’m tempted to respond to a situation (a person or people) in a less than honorable manner, I want to remember that my code of ethics, my behavior, my way of living is not dependent upon circumstances, upon my being treated justly/rightly, or anything else. It hinges upon & is informed by the prime directive: do everything I do in Name of Jesus, for the glory of God.

And then its time to live the life.