How’s your relationship with those in authority over you? How’s your relationship with those over whom you hold power or sway? God has something to say about these relationships, just like He had something to say about marriage and parent-child relationships. And like those, this earthly situation teaches us about heavenly things.
Even if you do not have a job, you probably have to nod to someone else’s control in some areas of your life. And regardless if you hold a supervisory position you likely have people who turn to you for decisions and direction from time to time.
Verse 5 reads,
“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,”
That is asking a lot! You are supposed to obey your boss the way you would Christ? Has Paul met your boss? She is arrogant, knows not even half as much as you do, and only got her position because of nepotism. You’re right, your boss is not perfect. Neither are you. God gave her that position and He gave her that authority. Proverbs 8:15-16 read,
“By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
16 by me princes rule,
and nobles, all who govern justly.”
He tells us we are to submit to the powers He puts in place 1 Peter 2:13-14 read,
“Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good”
Just a few verses down 1 Peter 2:18-19 read,
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.”
So even if your boss is evil incarnate, even if she makes your life a living hell, God expects you to obey her.
Ephesians 6 goes on to say that you are not only supposed to act nice, humble, and obedient in front of your boss, you are supposed to strive do to well and please her when she can’t see you. Verses 6-7 put it like this,
“not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,”
Recognizing that it is God who gave her the position and power allows you to see that serving her is really serving God. What can your humble attitude teach her? What can your consistent kindness and enthusiastic obedience demonstrate to her? Although it is difficult to serve a tyrannical person, it is hard to be kind to someone who views you as less than themselves, God promises your sacrifice will be honored. It may never be noted by your boss, but God does see it. Verse 8 reads,
“knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.”
God isn’t saying, every day that you are nice to you the boss you’ll come home to a lollipop, He is saying that the good you do has a return and a reward. God is paying attention. The world is paying attention. Maybe your boss will not ever care about your good attitude. Or maybe she will note it and you will be given a better position, higher pay and a better relationship with her. Perhaps your good attitude will have her or your co-workers asking about Jesus. Maybe you are storing treasures in Heaven.
When your boss is awful to you, when you are punished unjustly and you react with humility and goodness there is a reward not only for you but for everyone watching. 1 Peter 2:20-21 says,
“For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
You are the example of Christ to the world. Your interactions, responses, and attitude can lead people to Him or away from Him.
It is not only those who are over us we have to treat well. We have to make sure that we glorify God in our interactions with those under us as well. Verse 9 says,
“Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”
Paul doesn’t have to spell it all out, he says, “Masters, do the same to them.” Treat them as if they are Jesus with sincerity, do the will of God and please God. Paul adds “stop your threatening” to his statement. I think that many of us in trying to exert authority, really try to wield control and revert to threats to get our way. Do you do that? Is your management more like bullying? Have you intimidated someone with punishment to exercise dominance? That isn’t how God works with us and He doesn’t want us to oppress someone into docility and submission.
God warns of the real consequences that happen if we follow Him. He gives us free will to choose to follow or go our own way. He then lets the natural consequences take effect. He also forgives completely and freely every single transgression, every sin from bad thought to serial murder just for the asking.
He is merciful. He expects the same of us. God doesn’t think Billy Graham is a better person than Charles Manson. They are both the same except that Billy Graham accepted the free gift of grace and when God looks at Mr. Graham He sees him through Jesus’ blood. There is no preference or favoritism with God. The rules are the same for everyone! You believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you are saved whether you are a heroin addicted hooker or a nun feeding the poor in India.
He asks us to be merciful as well. We are to treat people equally without bias. One person doesn’t get our favor, while another gets ignored if we truly seek to please God. God doesn’t pick and choose whom He will save. He gives every person the same choice and same opportunity.
Glorify God by showing the same fairness and open-mindedness to every person you come into contact with, especially those under your authority. Remember who gave that position to you.