9 “Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” (Titus 2:9–10 (ESV)
The church is to be engaged in multi-generational life. While there may be particular emphasis placed on certain age group ministries in any given week, the church must not exclude any age group from any other. All generations in the church must be involved with each other. Examples include men and women’s ministries, AWANA, youth groups, Sunday school and Adult Bible Fellowships.
The Apostle Paul focused on healthy church behavior involving typical people groups in the church. He gave special attention to age and gender. We studied the importance of older men, older women, younger women, younger men and godly pastors. Today we focus on those who work.
The Apostle Paul used the term bondservants (δοῦλος; doulos) meaning slaves. These are individuals who subservient to and controlled by masters ((Mt 8:9; Mk 10:44; John 8:34; 15:15; Rom. 6:20; 1 Cor. 7:21; Gal.3:28; Eph. 6:5; 1Tim. 6:1; Phm. 16). Paul referred to all kinds of slaves in today’s text.
“Although masters legally held absolute authority over household slaves, in most cases household slaves held freedoms that field or mine slaves did not, and they had more adequate provision than most peasants. In the popular stereotype entertained by their owners, slaves were lazy, apt to argue with their masters and liable to steal when they could. The stereotype was sometimes true, especially where the work incentive was least, but Paul urges Christian slaves not to reinforce the stereotype. Minority religions were already viewed as subversive, and to counter this prejudice Christians had to work especially hard to avoid the normal causes of slander,” explains commentator Craig S. Keener.
How were Christian slaves to avoid these slanderous stereotypes? Paul provided Titus with some answers.
First, slaves were to be submissive to their masters in everything. This did not mean that Christian slaves were to disobey God’s Word. In that case, they were to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:1-9; 5:1-29). However, as long as their earthly masters did not order them to do something compromising to their faith in Christ, Christian slaves were to obey. This applies to believing employees and employers today (Eph. 6:5-9).
Second, they are to be well-pleasing and not argumentative. Well pleasing (εὐάρεστος; euarestos) means to be acceptable ((Rom. 12:1, 2; 14:18; 2 Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:10; Php. 4:18; Col. 3:20; Titus 2:9; Heb. 13:21). This means to do the job as trained. Not argumentative (ἀντιλέγω; antilego) means to not talk-back, to speak against, and to not be difficult to work with. How many Christian’s testimonies have been tainted by their tendency to be disrespectful of their boss and to not do their job correctly?
Third, Christian slaves are not to pilfer. Pilfering (νοσφίζω; nosphizo) means to steal. It means to personally misappropriate company funds for oneself. Perhaps, this could even be applied to stealing time by not giving an hour’s work for an hour’s pay.
Fourth, they are to show all good faith. This means that the Christian slave’s trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of Jesus Christ is to impact their daily work ethic. There is to be no distinction between one’s worship of Christ and one’s work representing Christ.
The goal of this ethic for Christian slaves and employees is that in everything they (slaves) may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. To adorn (κοσμέω; kosmeo) means to presently and actively present Christ as beautiful and pleasing. As an individual uses cosmetics to appear pleasing to the eye, so also our work should be pleasing to the eye of our masters and employers.
“A Christian slave is in fact serving, not his earthly master, but the Lord Christ who will vindicate him in the end (Col. 3:23–24). In the meantime he must avoid giving offense, and must concentrate on following Christ’s example in every way (cf. 1 Peter 2:18–25). In this way his life will prove to be an adornment to the teaching about God our Savior. Thus Paul drove home again what had been the theme of this entire section (Titus 2:1–10): a believer’s behavior is to be in accord with or befitting sound doctrine,” states commentator A. Duane Litfin.
May we glorify God in our behavior; whether we are older men, older women, younger women, younger men, pastors, or workers. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!