The Duty of Servants
1 Peter 2:18-25
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.…

I. THEIR DUTY. Be subject. Keep your order and station under your masters, and that "with fear" and inward reverence of mind and respect to them, for that is the very life of all obedience. Do faithfully to your utmost that which is entrusted to you and obey all their just commands, and suffer patiently even their unjust severities. But, on the other side, this does not justify nor excuse the unmerciful austerities of masters. It is still a perverseness in them, as the original word is here, and must have its own name, and shall have its proper reward from the sovereign Master and Lord of all the world.

II. THE DUE EXTENT OF THIS DUTY. "To the froward." It is a more deformed thing to have a distorted, crooked mind, or a froward spirit, than any crookedness of the body. How can he that hath servants under him expect their obedience when he cannot command his own passion, but is a slave to it? And unless much conscience of duty possess servants, more than is commonly to be found with them, it cannot but work a master into much disesteem with them when he is of a turbulent spirit, a troubler of his own house. The Christian servant, however, who falls into the hands of a froward master will not be beaten out of his station and duty of obedience by all the hard and wrongful usage he meets with, but will take that as an opportunity of exercising the more obedience and patience, and will be the more cheerfully patient because of his innocence, as the apostle here exhorts. All men desire glory, but they know neither what it is nor how it is to be sought. He is upon the only right bargain of this kind "whose praise is not of men, but of God." If men commend him not he accounts it no loss, nor any gain if they do, for he is bound for a country where that coin goes not, and whither he cannot carry it, and therefore he gathers it not. That which he seeks in all is that he may be approved and accepted of God, whose thanks are no less to the least of those he accepts than a crown of unfading glory. Not a poor servant that fears His name and is obedient and patient for His sake but shall be so rewarded.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OF THIS OBEDIENCE AND PATIENCE. "For conscience towards God." This imports, first, the knowledge of God and of His will in some due measure, and then a conscientious respect unto Him and His will so known, taking it for the only rule in doing and suffering.

1. This declares to us the freeness of the grace of God in regard to men's outward quality, that He doth often bestow the riches of His grace upon persons of mean condition. He hath all to choose from, and yet chooses where men would least imagine (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 1:27).

2. Grace finds a way to exert itself in every estate where it exists, and regulates the soul according to the particular duties of that estate. A skilful engraver makes you a statue indifferently of wood or stone or marble, as they are put into his hand; so grace forms a man to a Christian way of walking in any estate. There is way for him in the meanest condition to glorify God and to adorn the profession of religion; no estate so low as to be shut out from this; and a rightly informed and rightly affected conscience towards God shows a man that way and causes him to walk in it.

3. As a corrupt mind debaseth the best and most excellent callings and actions, so the lowest are raised above themselves and ennobled by a spiritual mind.An eagle may fly high and yet have its eye down upon some carrion on the earth; even so a man may be standing on the earth, and on some low part of it, and yet have his eye upon heaven and be contemplating it. "For conscience."

1. In this there is, first, a reverential compliance with God's disposal, both in allotting to them that condition of life, and in particularly choosing their master for them, though possibly not the mildest and pleasantest, yet the fittest for their good.

2. In this there is, secondly, a religious and observant respect to the rule which God hath set men to walk by in that condition, so that their obedience depends not upon any external inducement, failing when that fails, but flows from an inward impression of the law of God upon the heart.

3. In this there is a tender care of the glory of God and the adornment of religion.

4. There is, lastly, the comfortable persuasion of God's approbation, as is expressed in the following verse, and the hope of that reward He hath promised. "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:24).

(Abp. Leighton.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

WEB: Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the wicked.

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