Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart…
The length of the paragraph on this topic is probably partly the result of Paul's having then and there so much to do with Onesimus, the runaway slave whom he was sending back to his master. "Bought and adopted and in Christ a brother; claimed and completed, and in Christ a man." But besides this personal reason, Paul must have felt that there was, in the state of the Colossian society of the time, an urgent need for this lengthy and detailed description of duty. And is there not now? Are not masters and servants in England failing in their reciprocal duties very largely because they are expecting, as Dr. Chalmers said, "universal selfishness to do the work of universal love"? Therefore we may well notice -
I. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRUE SERVANT'S SERVICE. It is marked by:
1. Obedience. Engaged for given duties, do them. Refusal to do them, neglect in doing them, is immoral, irreligious. You cannot be a good Christian and a bad servant.
2. Thoroughness. Not "eye service." This happy expression is probably the apostle's coinage. It describes obedience that is superficial, inconstant, hollow.
3. Simplicity of motive. "Singleness of heart." Not having two purposes nor secondary aims.
4. Earnestness. "Do it heartily." Whatsoever ye do, work at it. The lazy and lethargic are repulsive, the enthusiastic are noble.
II. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRUE MASTER'S MASTERSHIP. The duties of a master are as clearly enforced as those of the servant. "The same light attempers various colours; so the same principle regulates various duties." There is claimed from the master:
1. Justice. That is, what the law demands, what is legally right and square. There is, however, much more.
2. Equity. "What is equal." Equity is more than law, more than legal claim. It is a liberal interpretation of justice in common matters; a response to the intuition of what is right, even though no law defined it or enforced it. It was this teaching about equity that was really the insertion of the leaven that has destroyed slavery in Christendom. What is the touchstone of this equity? Surely this golden rule, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even the same to them likewise."
III. THE MOTIVES BOTH OF TRUE SERVICE AND OF TRUE MASTERSHIP. The motives put before both masters and servants are two.
1. They both sustain a common relationship to Christ.
(1) All are his servants. Servants, "Ye serve the Lord Christ;" masters, "Ye also have a Master in heaven."
(2) All work is done in his sight. Therefore do it "fearing God."
(3) All may be done for his glory. "There is no respect of persons."
2. Christ will rightly deal out retribution and reward. With Christ is "the reward of the inheritance." From Christ men shall receive for "the wrong which they have done." Our conclusion is:
1. Cherish a Christian ambition to serve well.
2. Cherish a Christian ambition to rule well. - U. R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: