Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.Colossians 3:22(NASB)
There are many social issues in the world today, that the Church rightly approves or justly condemns. Slavery is certainly a practice that is condemned, especially enforced or unjust slavery.
Sadly however, in this fallen world slavery has always been a part of humanity's unhappy landscape. Because of man's free-will and fallen nature, slavery became a common practice in the human realm, and the Bible gives believers instructions on how to conduct oneself as a slave, as well as instruction for those who are their masters.
Throughout the letters of Paul and the other apostles, we see that slavery was very common in biblical times. Indeed, it is recorded that there were over 60 million slaves in Paul's day, and much attention was given, in Scripture, to the instruction and conduct of slaves, as well as their slave-masters.
People often offered themselves as slaves when they fell on hard times, and Paul gave important instructions on how to carry out their duties as unto the Lord, even when their masters were unfair.
Although he gave instructions on godly living as a slave, Paul also encouraged those in slavery to secure their freedom whenever possible: "If you are able also to become free, rather do that," was His wise advice.
Of particular importance, it is to be noted that nowhere in Scripture are members of Christ's Body instructed to engage in the abolishment of slavery or the correction of any other social injustices, in preference to our given ministry to the lost.
Jesus said, "The poor you will have with you always," and Paul could easily have said, slaves will continue to be with you (however distasteful this is) until Christ's return when He comes to set up His earthly kingdom of peace, prosperity, righteousness, and justice.
Although we must certainly stand against the evils of our day, protect those that are weak, help those that are afflicted by social injustices, and show patience towards all men, the preeminent function of the Christian Church is to honour the Lord and tell sinners about Jesus – that He died to pay the price for our sin and rose again so that all who believe on Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
We are told to go into all the world and preach the word of truth to a lost and dying humanity. We are to spread the good news of the gospel of grace to lost sinners. We are to act as ministers of reconciliation to a world that is drowning in sin. We are to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to and live our lives as unto the Lord – no matter where we are or what our station in life happens to be.
The true, Christian ministry of reconciliation will indirectly have a great impact on the many social injustices of our day. May we examine our Christian purpose in life, but be careful that we do not become so embroiled in setting to right the political and social scene in this fallen age, that we miss the true purpose of our calling and election.
May we stand firm on the Word of God and do only those things that honour His name – for which we are all called.
Heavenly Father, it is too easy to coast along at work and try to get by doing the minimum for my employer. Please change my heart so that whatever job I find myself in, I will work at it wholeheartedly as if I was working for You. May I not seek to please men, but always to please You. I pray that my work ethic would be a witness to draw others to You, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name, AMEN.