Search

Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Be Subject to Your Masters (Isaiah 53:4-9 and 1 Peter 2:18-25)

INTRODUCTION

  • In my 10 years of work, 9 of them were work from home online experience. But I remember when I had my OJT and brief local employment in Mandaluyong, I was blessed with a generous boss. My OJT allowance was the same as the basic pay of the employees (without benefits). There’s even a corner with free snacks. And the boss seldom gets angry and frustrated with our work. (Never shouts, but when his face turns red, you know he’s angry)
  • But we don’t all have that kind of good experience and environment at work. Even my online clients weren’t all the same. A few days ago, I asked Yeng, “Anong pinaka-masahol na na-experience mong treatment ng boss mo?” She recalls one of the busiest days in the office, and one day, sobrang gahol na sila sa work to the point na halos hindi na sila makatayo or makakain, and after all that—sabi daw ng boss, “Wala silang ginagawa.” That’s harsh.
  • And that’s our weekly reality. We serve and work for different people/organizations—some are good, some are bad. But as Christians, how do we live honorably before them?
  • READ 1 Peter 2:18-20

HISTORICAL AND BIBLICAL CONTEXT OF SLAVERY

TEXT: 1 Peter 2:18, “Servants”

*”Servants” (not doulos, but oiketai) – Most likely domestic slaves, unlike slaves in the city, agriculture, or mining.

**Important to be aware of the wide difference between slavery and today’s employment, yet properly relate its principles to our context

  1. Slavery was vital in the economy of the ancient Greece/Rome
    1. Where did slaves come from (war, debt payment, child of slave, survival from lack of government support)
    2. How were slaves treated
      1. Property or Tools (not listed as employees)
      2. Serve anything the master wants (some were “good and gentle,” while others are “unjust, harsh”). More commonly, slaves are mistreated.
        1. Example: Philosopher Seneca (55-56 AD) speaks of slaves in elite houses, mopping the vomits and left overs of drunk guests. And one male slave is forced to dress like a woman, and after dinner will serve the sexual lusts of a drunk master
        2. Example: For a time, slaves were also given a collar tighly fasten around the neck, with inscriptions on how to bring them back to their master. This is to keep them from running away due to hardships. (Example: Onesimus who ran away from Philemon)
      3. They have no legal rights (Unlike today, they don’t have labor codes or HR departments)

[Transition]: So how did the apostles respond to this social structure? To slavery?

  1. Slavery was not condemned by the Apostles, but neither Promoted or Implied Passivity
    1. They didn’t condemn it (they condemned injustice in slavery)
      1. How would Christian slaves survive without it?
      2. Christians are called to submit (v. 13; Titus 2:9). Freedom in Christ doesn’t mean liberty from slavery 
      3. Relate: Those who say that Christians should never be employees or in very difficult job situations (consider Providence)
    2. But they didn’t promote/advocated for it either
      1. They can still seek freedom if possible (1 Corinthians 7:21). Either through payment of money given by masters or woman married to a male owner
      2. Relate: Those who are too loyal even if they are already being abused at work (unreasonable, e.g., no pay at all)
      3. Even throughout history, the Christians were instrumental in the abolition of slavery until it was eventually adjusted into a new category of labor.

[Transition]: So what does the apostles teach? What is the role of the gospel in relation to slavery?

  1. The Gospel is to Regulate the Relationships between Slaves and Owners
    1. The goal of the apostles was to simply proclaim the principles of the gospel and the Christian life, principles to regulate the treatments between people, including slaves and slave owners.
    2. Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10
    3. Christian slaves must respect and obey their masters in everything (of course, except sin). Christian masters must not abuse their slaves. The gospel must transform the relationships and conduct of Christian slaves & owners.

[Transition]: And this is what Peter is exhorting about.

SERMON POINT 1: How Christian Servants must Endure Injustice/Persecution

TEXT: 1 Peter 2:18-20

NOTE: Two things being experienced by the Christian slaves: (1) harsh treatment, and (2) persecution when doing good (i.e., perhaps, when they don’t join masters in pagan worship or refuse to obey sinful commands.

  • Explanation of Point
    • State: Christian servants must honor their masters by doing what is good and right, even despite harsh treatment and persecution
    • Place/Argue: It brings honor
      • For what honor when you sin and are punished? It is only due. (Only some get “famous” by it, but not “honorable”)
      • But when you do good and are still punished, don’t retaliate. Endure it. And you know you have the favor of God (which is most important). 
    • Prove: Similar with government authorities, disobeying or retaliating will only lead to further punishment.
  • Illustration or Example: According to a historian, in AD 61 under Emperor Nero, a senator was killed by a household slave. Despite protests of the people, Nero and the senate upheld the law against slaves. And it led to the execution of all the slaves in that household.
  • Implication and Application:
    • Don’t take justice in your hands. Bring it to the authorities. Bring it to God. 
      • Example: If abused or harassed, tell the superiors or government officials. If justice is still not served, leave it to God (Proverbs 29:26)
    • Deal honestly and faithfully still, instead of retaliating. Still be a good example of integrity. (Cf. Titus 2:9-10). The sinful conduct of others towards us does not justify our sinful conduct towards them.
      • Example: What if your harsh boss leaves the office, do you stop working? (*Not to say we shouldn’t rest when needed)
    • Endure suffering and persecution
      • Example: What if you don’t belong because you’re against LGBT? Or you lose your work because you won’t join others in compromise? Still trust God.
  • Illustration: Joseph, after being sent to the prison, conducted himself faithfully. He sought freedom. Yet though forgotten at first, he still endured the hardships and worked excellently until God provided him justice.
  • Summarize subpoint: As Christians, we are serving a greater Master Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:5-9). Hence, we are still to work well and do good to the people we work for, even when we are treated unjustly.

[TRANSITION]: Now, Peter continues with a reason for this command. Why honor and submit to your masters? “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you…” (READ v. 21). 

SERMON POINT 2: Our Example and Hope in Christ, Who Suffered for Us

NOTE:

  • Suffering and enduring injustice is part of the Christian’s life, it is expected. Why? CLARIFY: Not that God saves us specifically in order to make us suffer. Rather, because as believers, we follow Christ. We pattern our lives not after the celebrities (Kpop, Influencers, etc.)
  • And the way we live is contrary to the ways of this world (Example: Whereas the world will say, “Pag binato ka ng bato, batuhin mo rin,” we do otherwise). Hence, as Christ suffered opposition from the world, we will likewise suffer.

And so Peter points the believers to Christ, to what he did (READ vv. 22-25). Mostly taken from Isaiah 53.

  • Explanation 
    • State: Christ is our ultimate example in enduring injustice instead of retaliating.
    • Place:
      • “When reviled (minura, nilait)… did not revile in return”… (Again, mistreatment of others doesn’t justify our revenge) 
      • “When he suffered, he did not threaten” (like a lamb “silent”)… 
      • Relate: Sometimes, the best response to injustice or false accusation is silence. Not passivity. But silence of compassion and patient hope in God to work things out in time. “Entrust ourselves to him who judges justly.”
    • Highlight (GOSPEL): But notice that there’s a big difference in Christ’s suffering and ours 
      • “He committed no sin” at all that deserves any suffering
      • He has all the power and the right to retaliate! (E.g., As King of kings, he could consume all the Roman soldiers)
      • He has all the right to complain and demand justice! (E.g., He has nothing to do with the mess we are in, while we all deserve to experience all the suffering, all injustice, and all corruption of this life)
      • Yet, he endured all those things on our behalf, so that he will “bear our sins on that cross.” He was made sin in order that we might become righteous (1 Cor. 5:21)
  • Highlight: And Christ on the cross, instead of retaliating, he prayed to God, “O Father, forgive them, for they do not know what you are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
  • Implication:
    • To all sinners: 
      • O, see how great the love of Christ is, that the eternal King, would suffer for us
      • (To unbelievers) Though your sins caused the suffering and death of Christ, though now you are still rebelling against him, it is always and still his prayer and desire that you will be forgiven. Forsake your sin, and come to him, believe and embrace his work on your behalf and you will be saved.
    • To all believers: Doing good while enduring suffering is hard. But thankfully, Christ did not only present himself as an example to imitate.
      • Through him, we are now “dead to sin and alive to righteousness”
      • By his wounds, our “spiritual wounds,” the deep damages of our sins are healed
      • And we are now under his care as the Good Shepherd, who watches us, sustains us, and keeps us ‘til the end.
  • Application: So Christian, look to Christ for hope. 
    • Hebrews 12:1-3 “… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him (i.e., the joy of pleasing the Father and fulfilling our salvation)… Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
  • Summarize subpoint: And out of gratitude for what he has done, let us follow his example of doing good even in difficult situations.

CONCLUSION

  • In the end, as believers, we don’t live the way the world does. And as citizens of God’s kingdom, we must live honorably as Christ’s witnesses in our society. [TAGALOG] And that includes doing good and being faithful to our duties and obligations to those we work for (our boss, clients, companies), even if they don’t value us, or mistreat us, or even persecute us.
  • At yun po, mga magulang ko’t kapatid, ang nakalulugod sa mata ng Diyos at nagbibigay kaluwalhatian sa Kanya.
+ posts
Share with others:
Facebook
Twitter
Email
Print

Leave a Comment