We often use our circumstances as an excuse for our attitude or reaction to things. We feel justified in what we say or do when there is just cause behind it. It makes us feel better but it also prevents us from being accountable for our actions. The thing is, it doesn't work that way for Christians. Regardless of our circumstances we are to follow the direction of the Spirit and the Spirit always directs us in words and actions of love. No excuses.
What is the worse possible human condition you think you can be found in? How about when all freedom and rights are stripped away from you? Maybe, when you are treated like a possession, no better than a piece of furniture? We call it slavery and it is still going strong in this world. How would you react if you were found in that circumstance? Stolen off the streets, smuggled out of the country and sold to the highest bidder. What would you do? Well, here is how radical Christianity is:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (Ephesians 6:5)
Yes, the attitude of submission goes even that far, regardless of your circumstances. Remember, when Jesus told us to love our enemy it was not just words he was speaking. Did you think he was just talking about kind thoughts you were to have? Love equals action. If as a slave we are to obey with respect and fear, emptying ourselves of self so we can obey with sincerity of heart, and have the same attitude as if we were obeying Jesus, how much more in every other circumstance of our life?
What about that teacher that always seems so hard on you? Everything in you wants to tell that teacher off. What about your parents who treat you so unfairly? How about that boss that keeps changing things and expecting so much out of you? What about that police office that always seems to pick on you? The flesh tells you to rise up in rebellion but the Spirit in you yells obedience with respect, fear and sincerity.
I have to be honest, these words are convicting me this morning. My church is small so to help take some of the financial burden off of it I work as a customer service professional from home. I am not always respectful in my attitude toward the company I work for. I often find their expectations to be unfair. There is a rebellion in my heart toward them and I am not sure I have always given my best effort. I have been robbing Jesus of his glory. I can't say that I have been in step with the Spirit with this:
Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. (Ephesians 6:6)
What is the will of God? Submission. That I would submit to the demands and expectations of the company I work for and do it with sincerity. This truth is hard when I examine my attitude toward different circumstances in my life. What is my attitude like to all authority in my life, from bus driver to Prime Minister? If this is what slaves were being told, how much more should we check our attitude. It's not about us; it is about the glory Jesus receives in our Christ-like attitude:
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Ephesians 6:7-8)
As if you were serving the Lord, not men. Yes, this applies to that teacher, boss, police officer who treats you unfairly. Is there anything more unfair in life than being a slave? If this is the expectation for a Christian slaves, how much more a person with freedom? The most radical thought out of all of this is that the riches of this world hold no value to us compared to doing the will of God, because our reward is coming. Our reward is not found here. We are not to seek things for our own benefit but always for the benefit of others. We are servants. Our reward is coming. Trust Jesus, live a life of submission and serve with sincerity of love.