“….but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.”
Titus 2: 10
1 Timothy 6: 1-2
Slavery is abhorrent; simple fact. We are however born in God’s image (Gen. 1 :27) to be free (Gal. 5: 1). God speaks out against violence (Ex. 21: 26-27, Matt. 5: 21-22) and human trafficking (Ex. 21: 16). He worked in miraculous ways to free His people from slavery (Ex. 5-12). The fact though is that in our fallen state we often treat each other in evil ways. Slavery has existed and still does (it is one of the reasons why we support the International Justice Mission and why we celebrated Freedom Sunday yesterday -see the videos online). As evil exists in this way in the world what can we learn from the advice that Paul offers to the early Church against the backdrop of a society occupied by the Roman Empire?
Understanding the context will again assist us. At that time in the Roman Empire it is estimated one third of the population were slaves (50-60 million people!). A lot of families ‘owned’ slaves, some slaves ‘owned’ slaves and some sold themselves into slavery to enable themselves to obtain Roman citizenship. For some, often the poor or marginalized members of society, this provided security in different ways. This does not detract from the evil that slavery is but may help us understand the situation a little more. Into these circumstances Paul writes, encouraging members of the Church who were slaves to respect their ‘masters’ and give double respect to those who were fellow believers. In Titus 2: 9-10 we see Paul’s motive behind this advice. Once again, the aim is to share the Gospel and glorify God. Members of the Church who were slaves were to live in a way that ‘adorned the doctrine (Gospel) of Jesus Christ.’ Wow! In a position of bondage, they were to overcome evil with good (Roms. 12: 21) living in the way that showed God's love and truth. This is the counter-cultural teaching and power of the Gospel. We are to love our enemies, not just those who love us, in a very real way (Matt. 5: 43-48).
Our example, as always, is the Lord Jesus. He gave up His majesty and power, humbling Himself to be a servant, saving us by His self sacrifice (Phil. 2: 6-11). The purpose of His sacrifice was and is to free us from our own slavery, a slavery to sin and death (Roms. 6: 17-18). In this freedom we are to imitate Christ giving ourselves to Him. Then working against the evils and injustices in this world in the power of His love we are to share the Gospel so that all may truly be free.
To Ponder: What forms of slavery exist in our society today; what can we as the Church and individuals do to combat such evil? When you as an individual are wronged, what is your natural reaction? How might you overcome this wrong, this evil, with the ‘good’ of Jesus Christ?
Pray: Eternal God, in whose perfect realm no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, and no strength known but the strength of love: so guide and inspire the work of those who seek your kingdom that all your people may find their security in that love which casts out fear and in the fellowship revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Praise: No Longer Slaves - Jonathan David and Melissa Helser
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TkUMJtK5k
Lord I lift your name on high - Mercy Me
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6I6orjM3NI
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.