1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
Yesterday we saw that Christians are to live as model citizens. Today we see that Christians are to work as model employees.
We should note that Peter addresses his fellow believers as ‘servants.’ It is believed that a large percentage of the early church was made up by slaves and servants. James tells us that God has chosen – ‘those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom…’ (see James 2:5) James is not to saying that God favors the poor over the rich, for scripture says that God is ‘no respecter of persons’ (see Acts 10:25). What James is saying is that often it is the poor who are the most open to the gospel. Why is this? Jesus said that it was ‘easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into heaven.’ (see Matthew 19:24) Many of those who are rich don’t think they need God. (see 1 Timothy 6:17) In addition, many of those who are rich have a hard time letting go of the pleasures their riches provide them. (see Mark 10:17-25)
Although Peter was writing to slaves and servants, his words apply to everyone who is an employee. What does Peter tell us?
First of all he tells us that we should treat our employer with respect. Such respect should be demonstrated by the way we address our employer. It should be shown by the way we perform our duties. It should be seen by the way we honor the hours we are assigned to work. Our respect should also be evidenced by our effort to always produce the very best product. And our respect for our employer should be revealed by the way we respect their property and equipment. As followers of Jesus Christ, we should strive to be the model employee.
Peter also tells us something else that is very important. We should respect not only the good employer, but also those who aren’t.
Peter knew that although some slaves might have good masters, others did not. No doubt some Christian slaves were treated worse once their unsaved masters realized they were believers. Peter encourages such slaves to patiently endure their unjust treatment. Why would he tell them to do that?
For one thing, their patient behavior would bear testimony to the validity of their Christian faith. Their attitude would cause some of their cruel masters to wonder what it was about them that caused them to act so nobly. No doubt some unsaved masters eventually came to know Christ through the testimony of their Christians servants.
Secondly, their patient endurance would glorify God and bring Him pleasure. Peter writes – ‘For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.’ God pays careful attention whenever someone is suffering for His cause and glory. Though the temptation might have been for these suffering slaves to retaliate and perhaps ruin their testimony – their humble and quiet spirit not only pleased God; it also caused Him to ultimately act on their behalf.