“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.” –1 Timothy 6:1-2 (NIV 84)
This isn’t a passage condoning slavery, but addressing attitudes. Paul says slavery is a “yoke,” something not wanted to bear. So don’t even get the idea that this is saying that slavery is okay, but rather that according to the custom of the time, this is how one should think.
We all have a witness that speaks volumes of our beliefs. Regardless of our condition or situation, it’s something we must think about. I wonder if the witness we’re giving about Christ is regarded as a collective whole, going beyond our own personal witness.
All believers carry with them the Name of Jesus. The Name of Jesus should be giving off the aroma of God, leaving a good taste in people’s mouths of grace, love, forgiveness, patience, gentleness, compassion, faith, comfort, hope, and truth.
A good way of thinking about this is considering the message of Jesus, the gospel truth of His life on earth, the aroma and the taste of God He left with each person He came in contact with. If we consider His witness, we can better understand what kind of witness we need and should to present to others. I’ve always believed that carrying the name “Christian” upon myself is a great responsibility and privilege. The question that pops into my mind is this: What kind of name did I leave behind this time?
I hope that with God’s “character building” within me, that more of Him will be seen daily. I don’t want questions to come up on the consistency of my witness. I want it to be clear, honest, and true. If I rephrase this passage to something that works in today’s language, I think it’d read something like this:
“All who work should consider their employers worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing employers are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.”
It’s a whole new concept. Suddenly my work takes into account the witness I’m giving to those who see it. But not only that, my work here gives off a collective witness of Christ to the world. It should not give any way to be slandered or made less effective in its truth. Not only that, but the way I lead others is also taken into account. And just because they might be believers doesn’t allow for any less respect because of the truth we have in common. Rather, it should mean even more is given!
People come in contact with believers every day. Each witness speaks volumes of how they’ll perceive the message gospel and our faith. One bad witness affects all others, and correcting what should have been will take much longer than having the right witness done the first time.
This doesn’t mean that we should be fake. It does mean that we should be true. Our value on our relationship with God will determine what kind of witness we’ll give off. If it’s not valued much but our witness is important to us, we can fool them to believe anything we want. But it isn’t true and eventually they’ll see through it. If we don’t care but make the claim that we belong to God, would they ever get to a point where they think it’s important enough to accept His grace? But if our relationship with God is the most important thing in our lives, our witness will be true and show them the need they have for His grace.
All this to say, our witness for Christ needs to also take into account the name it’s giving the rest of the believers. My witness affect yours, and your witness affects mine. What are they saying about us? More importantly, what are they saying about God?