Summary: During Paul’s time slaves in Roman empire were about 60 Lakhs. Rome was mistress of the World. All work was done by slaves- from doctors, engineers and teachers to the men force were slaves. The entire economy and social structure depended upon them.
Text: Ephesians 6:5-9
Topic: Church and Professional Ethics
Introduction: Professional Ethics
Professionally accepted standards of personal, business behaviour, values and guiding principles. Professional Ethics governs our behaviour within the context of a particular profession. Abel offered acceptable offering to God. Nimrod was a hunter against God.
During Paul’s time the slaves in Roman empire were about 60 Lakhs. Rome was mistress of the World. All work was done by slaves- from doctors, engineers and teachers to the men force were slaves. The entire economy and social structure depended upon the slave labour. Aristotle taught ‘slaves are only work tools. They were treated like animals. Paul never confronted the social structure openly but wanted to bring a silent revolution in the society by redemption of souls. But later John Wesley and Whitefield vigorously campaigned for the freedom of slaves. Paul did not mix up the world and church together (1 Cor.7:20-24).
Slave was not a person but property of the Master. Slaves were known as “it and thing”. Roman law says the master possess the ‘Power of Life and death’ over a salve. Also, it says that ‘whatever a master does to a salve, undeservedly, in anger, willingly, unwillingly, in forgetfulness, after careful thought, knowingly, unknowingly is the judgment, justice and law’. (Source: Barclay)
Slaves were branded on their forehead. Holes on their ears as mark. Augustus crucified a slave because he killed the pet quail. Vedius Pollio flung a slave still living to the savage lampreys in his fish pond because he dropped and broke a crystal goblet. However, there are stories of bonds of deepest loyalty and affection between slaves and Masters.
Slaves cannot change their status and situations. But they can win the hearts of their masters. What are the modern slavery systems and how we are going to respond to them? “While we cannot destroy evil at the moment, at the same time, we must not let evil destroy us”. Today, we have “unions” (trade unions, labour unions, workers forum, etc.,) for every group organized and unorganized.
St. Paul’s’ advise to Slaves/workers/employees:
1. Be a Christian, wherever you are and whatever you do (v.5).
God commanded to work only for six days and take rest on the seventh day (Ex.20:9, Dt.5:13). Don’t do any work on the seventh day except worship (Lev.23:3).
Is it possible for Doctors, nurses and those who are in life saving professions? Can a born-again believer run a wine shop? Can a Christian work in a TASMAC? Can a Christian run a restaurant on Sundays? What about the guards, soldiers and police who work on Sundays? Who should be your employer and employees? What are the things can be sold out in a shop owned by Christians – tobacco?
The thing is be a sincere worker and be a good Samaritan. Jesus justified the saving of an ox on Sabbath day, then why not human beings.
Some tax collectors and guards asked what they have to do, be faithful in work, collect only fixed amount (Lk.3:12-14)-corruption is at the core. God takes no bribe (Dt.10:17), unrest in the house of those who take bribe but the one who hates live (Pr.15:27). He gives strength to earn money (Dt.8:18) richness comes from the Lord (1 Chr.29:12). David says my hands are clean (2 Sam 22:21). Clean hands are source of blessings and they will ascend to heaven (Ps.22:4). Lift up your holy hands (1 Tim.2:8)
If you do business have correct measures and scales (Lev.19:36), God hates the wrong scales and systems (Pr.11:1, Pr.20:23- false balance and differing weights are abomination to the Lord, Mic.6:11-God can’t tolerate the wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights). Earn on the rightful ways. If the Prosperity comes from the LORD, it would stand forever but the blessings gathered in the wicked way is temporary (Pr.10:22). God destroys the unholy business acts of the people (2 Chr.20:37).
2. Do the work with sincerity and good will as to the Lord and not to the men (v.7-8).
Lawlessness and heartlessness, arrogance, rude and neither having fear of men or fear of God. Do not be lazy in the work (Pr.18:9). Whoever is Sincere in his job will be exalted (Pr.22:29). Sincerity will be honoured. Sincere in keeping up time, working with faithfulness, honesty, not taking anything to home. For ex., Mordecai (Es.6:2,8-11). Some are cunning workers (2 Cor.11:13). Wicked workers (Phil.3:2).
Muhammad Yasin, 7yrs old, from erode was appreciated for his sincerity by media and people for handing over Rs.50000/- which he found on the way.
How much God would appreciate and honour you? Be a wise worker (Pr.17:2). Be an obedient good servant then you will have pleasant sleep (Eccl.5:12).
Advise to Masters
1. Be a believing Master: You be a believing
master and think of God(1Tim.6:1-2). You have a master in Heaven (v.9). Identify the cunning and wicked servants (2 Cor.11:13, Phil. 3:2).