Are you a good employee? How do you know? Do you receive good evaluations? What would your bosses say about you? In this post we’re going to learn how to be a good employee from an most unexpected source.
In this series of posts on Titus 2:1-10, Paul has been talking to various groups in the church: older men and women, and younger men and women. That pretty much covers it, right? Especially when you consider that parents are to lead their children. But nope, there is another group. It might have been the largest group. Do you know who Paul hasn’t talked about yet?
Slaves. In the Greco-Roman era around first century AD, there were millions and millions of slaves. Slaves in the churches? Yes. Slavery was a normal part of that culture, though theirs was a different kind of slavery than what we are used to in our American past. Ours was racially based. There’s was not. You could become a slave through war, for example, when Rome defeated your country and conscripted all your people. Slaves could also earn freedom, become Roman Citizens, and gain property and wealth. But slavery in any era is still slavery: slaves are people owned by other people, and at times the owners could treat their slaves horribly.
So why were there slaves in churches? Shouldn’t the Christians set their slaves free? As we look at verses 9-10 where Paul addresses the slaves in the churches in Crete, I first want to confirm that Paul is not supporting the concept of slavery. Paul’s approach to the institution of slavery will come up on this blog in the near future when we finish Titus and study the next short letter in the New Testament, Philemon, so we’ll get there. For now, Paul is simply providing teaching for slaves who are Christians, and how they should live the life of Christ in their current enslaved position.
He says, “Please your masters. Don’t talk back or steal, so you can be trusted.” Interestingly, in Ephesians 6, Paul says, “slaves obey your masters because it is the right thing to do, not just to win their favor.” Now here in Titus he says that slaves should obey their masters to win their faith in Christ. See what he says in verse 10, “so that in every way slaves will make the teaching about God our savior attractive?”
Paul is showing how much he is concerned for the mission of God. Imagine, in other words, a Christian who also happens to be a slave behaving with respect and truth and honor before their master. That will stand out. Especially if the master is a jerk. That will increase the likelihood that the master could become a Christian.
Even though slavery is illegal in the USA, and many parts of the world, it is still an awful problem. As I mentioned above, we’ll talk about Paul’s thoughts on the institution of slavery when we study the letter of Philemon in a few weeks. Because Paul doesn’t address the institution of slavery in his letter to Titus, what can we learn from his teaching to slaves? I think there are some principles in verses 9-10 that carry over to employees and employers. How many of you are an employee who has a boss? Me too. In my denomination, I have a District Field Director and a Bishop who are my bosses.
I’m not saying our bosses are like slave driver, by the way! What I am saying, though, is that they way you work, the way you handle your employment, will say a lot to your boss about your faith in Jesus. Maybe your boss is a Christian. But maybe not. You make the teaching of Jesus attractive by working hard, by being competent, trustworthy, and creative.
So we need all these groups in the church. Especially, we need the older to teach the younger. First, older men and women, you set the example for the younger by how you live. Live lives of discipleship to Jesus, clearly showing the young what it means to be selfless, committed to Christ, passionate about the mission of his Kingdom.
And then train others to follow Jesus. Teach them to live like Jesus. Meet with them. Weekly. Read the Bible together. Talk about how to apply it to your lives.
Who is your Titus? This passage is a discipleship passage. Paul is discipling Titus through a letter, and in turn he wants Titus to disciple or train the people in the churches in Crete to train others. Who are you investing in? You’ve got a really wonderful guide here in Titus 2:1-10. As you meet with a person, read this passage, maybe for starters, and talk about how their life and your life is demonstrating all these areas that Paul is talking about. So, who is your Titus?