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Living Not so Free

Living Not so Free

Words of Faith 1-31-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Peter 2

    [18] Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. [19] For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. [20] But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.


       Slaves?  Wow.  Slavery is one of the most horrendous and sinful practices of humans against one another.  How can Peter even suggest submission to such a wretched thief of human dignity?  Well, before we shut the book, we must realize a couple of things.

       First, there were many social ills and governmental injustices that Jesus and the Apostles did not address.  Peter and the others did not see themselves to be agents of social change as much as agents of spiritual change.  Social change comes with time and as a result of spiritual change.

       In the first century church, the primary goal was to attain freedom for the soul.  Because most anticipated the immediate return of Christ, there was no urgent concern to reform a government that would quickly pass away.  There was no need to start a rebellion.  The spread of the Gospel was paramount.  Real freedom came from Jesus, and physical freedom was not always so important.


       We should understand that much slavery in the Roman world was quite different than that practiced in American history before the Civil War.  American and European slave traders captured African families, transported them across an ocean, and then tore them apart at auction. In the ancient world of Peter and Paul, people would often sell themselves into slavery for a period of time to pay a debt or attain a better opportunity for their family. 

      In Peter's world, some slaves were captured as a result of war, but often slaves were the result of a debt that could not be paid and a contractual agreement for a time.  Many slaves in these first-century settings had fairly normal family lives.  

      The word used by Peter means house-servants.  He was speaking specifically to domestic servants and not to forced laborers.  These were the people who were coming to faith in Jesus.  In such domestic and contracted situations, Peter advised submission not only to those who were good "bosses" but to those who were harsh.  Such submission and even suffering is commendable to God and also a testimony. 

         So how do we apply this? 

         It is not hard to think of a job that is pretty lousy.  Maybe you are in a lousy job now.  Many jobs we have in our lives are only for a time.  The pay is bad, and the conditions unfavorable.  But we take such a job, nearly slave labor, to provide for those we love. We want to get ahead or pay off a debt. It may be a second job or even a third that is tiring, boring, or even demeaning.  But such a job may be what we must do even if the boss is harsh.  If we take the advice of Peter, even in those lousy jobs, we should work as unto the Lord and make our efforts commendable to Him.

          Of course, Peter isn't talking about doing immoral things in submission to a boss.  But He is talking about being a witness in the workplace even if those in charge are not pleasant.

          How is your job (or jobs) going?  Feel a little like a slave at times?  Harsh boss?  Remember, this is for a season.  This is for a purpose.  Do this work in a way that is commendable to the Lord.


          Lord, help me this day to do all of my work in a way that will honor You.  Give me the strength to hear criticism and respond in positive ways.  Allow me to be a light for Jesus in the place You have set me.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.


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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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