The Christian Home: Servants

Col. 3:22. “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.”

Paul addressed this passage to slaves, as well as paid employees. In Paul’s day, it was common in Greek and Roman culture to have slaves. Depending upon the master, slavery could be horrible or it could be becoming a beloved part of the family. God is not endorsing slavery here. It simply existed, and this passage encourages servants, paid or unpaid, to be obedient to their human masters in all things.

They were not to be guilty of “eyeservice,” obeying only when the master can see. Having the master present could motivate a servant to perform better than he would if the master were not there.

They were not to be “menpleasers,” putting on a show to gain favor, but being insincere.

They were to work with singleness of heart. This means they were to work with sincerity, mental honesty. It is to be free from pretense and hypocrisy; not self seeking, being openhearted, showing generosity (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).

Since we no longer have (legal) slavery in America, this verse can still apply to paid employees in a family. Chauffeurs, gardeners, cooks, maids, nannies, etc. all come under this category, being servants in a household. I’ve been both a housecleaner and a nanny. I didn’t always like it, but it helped pay my college bills. I was treated well, but I have to admit, I still dislike cleaning house. It’s boring, and just needs to be done all over again. I’ve reached the point in my life in which I have to be careful how I move. Housework is done very slowly and in small stages, so there is always cleaning to be done. Doing it with a right heart attitude does make it less burdensome.

Fearing God: Respecting God, and doing one’s work without resentment. Slaves in Paul’s day were often the first ones in a household to come to belief in Jesus. That belief made it even more important that they serve with a right heart and a cheerful spirit, being the kind of testimony that would bring their masters to faith in God.

The truth is, we are always under some authority other than our own. You don’t think so? Well, do you pay taxes? Stop for a red light? Obey zoning laws in your neighborhood? These are simple examples, but they serve to prove the point that there is some authority on earth higher than our own, unless we disappear into the wilderness, as some have. Even then, we are subject to God’s authority. He controls weather; He provides water, fish, and game for hunting to put meat on the table. He created the fertile soil for growing food. We depend upon Him for life.

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