May 22, Friday

UPDATED Today’s AMI QT Devotional, first posted on June 27, 2014, is provided by Pastor Charles Choe who leads Tapestry Church in Los Angeles.  He is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.).

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“Faith in the Workplace”

1 Timothy 6:1-2

“Let all those who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.”

fakhri-labib-J13cJaMxr2U-unsplashSlavery.  What a controversial topic!  But, in today’s passage, in Paul’s addressment of the relationship between masters and slaves, he is neither condoning nor condemning of the institution, although he did tell the slaves in Corinth, “If you can gain your freedom, do so” (1 Cor. 7:21b).

Why? Part of it was because slavery in the Roman Empire was very different from the kind that arose later in 18th century colonial America, which was built on the most dehumanizing treatment of fellow humans.  On the contrary, in 1st century slavery, some actually found a financial opportunity to move forward from the dire straits they found themselves in.

Paul calls slaves to honor their masters, not because slavery was an ideal institution, but because if they didn’t, it would thwart the gospel’s advancement. Evidently, many Christian slaves in Ephesus (where Timothy pastored) were bringing revulsion to the gospel by disrespecting their masters, to the point that Christianity was perceived to be a threat to society. Slave uprising or rebellion would have done more harm than good, because in Paul’s mind, it would have highjacked Christianity by depicting it as a religion of chaos and anarchy.

But here’s the beauty of Paul’s call to obedience, and he does something extraordinary in verse 2: Slaves are called to obey, not simply because that is their responsibility to their Christian masters, but even more so, since they are brothers in Christ. This was unheard of in Paul’s day, for between slaves and masters, it would have been unimaginable to call each other “brothers.” So, while they may not be of equal social status, they are equal in the eyes of the Lord. Passages like this caused conscientious Christians (like William Wilberforce) in the West to eventually fight for the abolition of slavery.

What does this mean for us today? It means that as we go into our workplaces (hopefully soon once the economy reopens), to our bosses and superiors, we must display a proper attitude of submission and respect toward them. We do that best by performing quality work, that in every way, we are helping to make the gospel more believable. If we profess Christ, and yet we are constantly insubordinate or are lazy at work, we find ourselves a poor witness to the unbelieving world. Jesus demands His people to aim for the highest standards, and so Christians should be the most hard-working and caring workers of all.   

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to work. Whether I have a great job now or am in school to prepare for a career, help me to be diligent so to bring You glory and to make the gospel all the more credible to a watching world. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 29


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 13:1-8: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.  8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Questions to Consider

  1. According to Paul, why are we to obey the government?
  2. How should we view rulers or leaders, even a bad one, in light of this passage?
  3. What is one practical way we are to obey the government?  How are you doing in this area? Are you respectful of your government?

Notes

  1. All authority comes from the Lord: He institutes authorities and gives them the responsibility to rule over their subjects.
  2. Whether leaders are good or bad, this passage tells us that they are ultimately God’s servants. So, no matter what our politics may be, we are to have respect for the government authorities, barring that the gospel is not compromised.
  3. Paul calls us to not cheat on our taxes but to pay them. We should have respect for all political leaders no matter what our politics may be.

Evening Reflection

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How was work today? Did you find yourself being productive and being a good witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ? If you did anything to revile the gospel at work, confess it before the Lord, and determine to become a better witness.

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