Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. (1 Peter 2:18 NKJV)
|Behind the Word – be submissive (Greek) hupotasso – a Greek military term meaning to arrange troops, divisions or legions in a military fashion under command of a leader. In non military use it represents an attitude of voluntarily carrying a burden with a cooperative attitude.|
Wow, what a verse. We read it and thought at first glance that it is no longer really applicable. After all, isn’t slavery long gone? Hardly!
A few years ago I was in Asia in a restaurant that served western style food. A wealthy family entered and were seated. They were very westernized Asians. They all wore all name brand western styled clothing. They had several children with them and also a poorly dressed young woman, the family slave. She watched them eat and waited on the kid’s every whim. When they had finished eating, she was allowed to finish their scraps. She was their slave. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear…. Anti-slavery groups estimate that there are a quarter of a million similar slaves working today with no pay or rights in the United States. Paul reminds us that we are all slaves to Christ.
There is almost nothing as likely to bring me charging from a submissive state of mind than when I suffer an injustice and the accompanying feeling of humiliation at the hands of another person. I feel I have rights to voice my opinions and fight back, but slaves do not. Peter lived in a world were often nearly half the people he saw were slaves. I might easily agree if he had told them — If your master treats you well, respond well. His instruction for Christian response to harsh unjust treatment was to voluntarily carry the burden that is unfairly being heaped upon you.
Peter’s words make me consider my own reaction when I suffer a harsh unjust treatment. In the following verse Peter says — For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
The issue of reaction to harsh treatment and suffering because of conscience toward God lands fundamentally in faith. Do I trust God to care for my rights and my honor or do I let my hurt feelings reign and determine that I must fix the problem myself? God will always treat me more than fairly. My salvation testifies to the Grace of God in this regard. Christ’s revenge on me for my sin was expressed not like I would but instead with forgiveness flowing from love. Is it possible for me to follow Him there? What if I reacted instead of with revenge or even quiet separation, with forgiveness and love? What if the greater the harsh injustice, I met it with greater forgiveness and love?
Jesus words, Follow me, lead me often to places where I cannot take another step until I surrender to suffering for His name’s sake and trust Him to lead me through it. When I submit, the issue is settled and I have peace, even if my tormentor is still flailing away. Humanity calls that losing, but it is in fact a great spiritual victory. It exalts Christ. I cannot lift the name of Jesus by refusing to suffer injustice like He did.