We have moved into 1 Timothy chapter six. I thought we would never get here.
I have got to tell you that this opening line leaves me with the feeling that we have lost the context, and I will show you why.
1 Timothy 6:1 CJB Those who are under the yoke of slavery should regard their masters as worthy of full respect so that the name of God and the teaching will not be brought into disrepute.
I have seen East Indian children’s videos, who are sold into slavery, more than likely so that the family can eat for a short time. That child has the potential of being brought up in the worst of conditions. How you could ever ask that child to have respect for their “owner” is beyond me.
Perhaps we do not understand the word respect or what Paul is asking these new followers of Christ to do.
Yoke is the Greek word zugos, and means joined, coupled, or in servitude to.
Slave(s) is the Greek word doulos and literally means a slave, whether involuntarily or voluntarily.
Regard is the Greek word hēgeomai. It means to consider, count, or esteem.
Esteem, according to the dictionary, is to set a value on.
So we learn that to regard is to set a value upon, in this case, a person. This does not mean that they are deserving of accolades; however, Paul is telling those of us who are subject to others to CONSIDER them as one who deserves esteem – value.
Masters is the word Greek word despotēs. This word covers a wide range, from a husband to an absolute ruler, (a) “despot.”
According to Webster’s dictionary, a DESPOT is an emperor, king, or price invested with absolute power, or ruling without any control from men, constitution, or laws. Hence in a general sense, a tyrant.
So you might say, I can’t relate to being a slave; ah, but most of us can relate to working under a person who may be deemed a boss, a supervisor, or a manager; and, in some cases, they could be thought of as a despot.
My experience was with an assistant store manager, who knew full well that he was speaking to the store opening crew; and, that of the five departments that were represented at this store opening meeting, we were the ones who made things happen. On this particular morning, we were not only open, with customers on the floor, but under additional pressure to maintain the store as though we were getting ready for an inventory inspection. Having said what he felt he needed to say, this manager released the crew to go back to their departments, only to immediately call us back to himself twice, flexing his manager’s muscles and demanding that we “down-stock” our shelves. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but most of the product that this manager referred to existed on the top shelf, about nine feet above the sales floor. Accessing things from this shelf meant that you had to use hydraulic lift equipment, block off two sales aisles, and take another person from their department to help service yours. The employees standing there that morning perceived the threat that came out of his mouth, and the pained look on their faces proved it. So, I decided to say something. I told him that what he was asking for was impossible at this hour, but I will make it happen. While many of the crew that morning thanked me for standing up to the despot, I was still fired a few days later.
Paul is telling me that I am to “regard my master as worthy of full respect.” I can tell you that even though I had seen how authoritarian this manager could be, I regarded this manager as worthy of full respect prior to that morning.
Webster’s dictionary says that amends means to compensate for a loss or injury.
Having gone through recovery, I learned that an aspect of the healing process is making amends; that is what my sponsor asked of me. Try doing this to someone you have injured, or, in the case of this tyrannical manager, I humiliated him by pointing out the stupidity of his demand in front of the crew. Without the prodding of a sponsor, I did try to make amends to this despot (I wasn’t in recovery as yet). I found the process of making amends humiliating as you make yourself very vulnerable when you do it, and there is NOTHING that says they have to extend forgiveness and acceptance back to you. The fact that I can still speak in this manner about the man probably means that I still hold malice toward him.
One other example and this one only fits into this category marginally. I attended a men’s bible study in which the majority of the men were over 75. The leader said things as though they were doctrine, and yet they were NOT in the bible. An elder who had been an elder since I was a teenager (I am now 68) claimed to have the job of keeping the teacher inline. He never once corrected the nonsense and was even a proponent of much of what the teacher said.
I chose to regard both of these men as worthy of full respect. To me, that means I was good-natured when spoken to and responded when addressed. I disagreed with most of what they said, and I would raise my hand when I felt the need to make a challenge. Sometimes they would ignore me. In case you don’t know this, and though I usually say it to women who have had abusive relationships, you need to forgive the person, no matter who it is. However, there is nothing about forgiveness that says you have to give this unsafe person space in your life again.
For me, the tyrannical manager became a despot, and this understanding was proven out by conversations I had with other former employees who experienced his wrath through termination.
But there is a reason for treating those who can tell us what to do as worthy of full respect, and it has everything to do with this statement.
“This will keep people from saying bad things about God and about our teaching.” CEV
If I use this first letter to Timothy as the “only” context, what then is the teaching that people will say bad things about?
If you fly through the letter to Timothy, you find:
- Warnings against false teachers. 1Timothy 1:3-11.
- An understanding that Christ came to save sinners. Well, that was all of us. 1 Timothy 1:12-20.
- A directive to pray for all people. 1Timothy 2:1-15.
- The qualifications for overseers/elders, and deacons. 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
- An understanding of the mystery of Godliness. 1Timothy 3:14-16.
- The words from Paul that some will depart from the faith. 1Timothy 4:1-5.
- What a Good Servant of Jesus Christ looks like. 1Timothy 4:6-16.
- The entirety of chapter five applies to the instructions to the church. 1 Timothy 5.
- False teachers and contentment. 1 Timothy 6:1-10.
- Fighting the good fight of faith. 1 Timothy 6:11-21.
So there is no one decisive passage in Paul’s letter to Timothy about which a person could say, this is the concept that would be harmed. Maybe Dr. J. Vernon McGee demonstrates what should be considered as a focus.
“The Christian should render a full day’s work for whomever he is working. If he agrees to work until five o’clock, he should work until five o’clock. Then sometimes workers leave with their pickaxe hanging in the air—they don’t finish up.”
How many people have you known who said they were Christian and were nothing more than worthless bums? Their work ethic stinks the place up if they show up to work, and their mouths are an embarrassment. These unfavorable assets that Paul spells out are the opposite of what we call the fruit of the spirit.
Galatians 5:22-24 NASB But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
One of those people who stink the place up is the father of several of my grandsons, and his fruit tends to rot on the tree. I frequently have to remind myself that God is the judge. The truth be known, I want God to kick him down the street, but I choose to believe that God is merciful beyond understanding and full of grace toward us, so my hopes will probably not be fulfilled, and that is a good thing.
If any of this paragraph held validity in God’s kingdom, then I and these anonymous others would make people say bad things about God and about our teaching. I have done things and walked away shaking my head as I said, well, there is one more I will never be able to share Christ with.