Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things (1 Timothy 6:1-2).
What if you work for an unbeliever? In any workplace, authority structures exist. You may be the owner or employer. Paul didn’t specifically address this here, but he did so in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 4. There he called for showing justice, fairness, and a consciousness that you will answer to your Master in heaven. In 1 Timothy 6:1, Paul focused on the slave’s attitude toward his master. He said that the slave should regard his master as “worthy of honor.” That may seem shocking to us! How could Paul call for considering a slave owner as “worthy of all honor” when he was part of an institution that came right out of human depravity? Paul did not wade into something deeply ingrained in Roman culture. Challenging it would have been detrimental to the cause of the gospel. Paul’s command expressed something like this: “Count the masters worthy of honor.” Look at them differently, now that you are a Christian. They hold authority over you. They provide for your food, clothing, and housing. They command your life each day. In God’s providence, you are under their authority. Knowing that they can have no authority over you unless permitted in the wisdom and purpose of God, then act toward them as servants of Christ. Notice that Paul did not include “an exception clause.”
Always give your best effort. This may challenge some of you every workday. Your supervisor or employer does not believe the gospel and acts like it! He or she may treat you with an ill-favored manner. But you serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Treat that boss with respect that is nurtured in light of whom you ultimately serve. Do your job as though doing it for Jesus Christ. Work to correct injustices and unfair practices but do so as one who belongs to an eternal kingdom, recognizing your own propensity for sin and the grace that sustains you each day.
Because of Jesus,