On Suffering and Slavery
1 Timothy 6:1-2
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Less than a week ago, our nation enjoyed a holiday in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who did more to advance the message of God’s indiscriminate love than few people ever have. He was a courageous leader, an activist, who rightly insisted that all people be treated equally, regardless of the color of their skin. This morning, with the message of Dr. King still on our minds, we come to a passage in the Bible which seems to tacitly condone slavery. What do we make of such biblical teaching?
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. What is a “yoke” (verse 1)? How can Jesus say that his “yoke is easy” (see Matthew 11:29- 30)?
2. In what ways was ancient Greco-Roman slavery different than 19th century North American slavery?
3. How do you typically respond when you’re stuck in a difficult situation? How does God often reveal much about his character and grace in those scenarios?
4. What does it mean to say that even Christians need the gospel?
5. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus became a doulos, or slave for us. Why was that necessary and what did he accomplish by doing so?
6. What are some specific ways that you can endure mistreatment so that others might be pointed to the suffering (and victory) of Jesus?
1. “Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep loving [your enemies], and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive … There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. Read 1 Timothy 6:1-2.
3. “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers.” – 1 Timothy 1:9-10
4. 01. There is something more important than even our freedom or personal comfort: it is the advancement of the gospel.
5. “Slaves are to respect their masters not because slavery is a proper institution, or because Paul supposedly has no social conscience. Rather, the success of the gospel is more significant that the lot of any individual, and therefore slaves should behave in a way that does not bring reproach on the gospel.” – William Mounce
6. 02. One way that God advances the gospel most rapidly in our own lives is by allowing us to remain in difficult situations.
7. Read 1 Timothy 6:2.
8. 03. There is a depth of love experienced by those who are united in Christ that should motivate us to serve one another with our best.