Slaves And Masters

Q. Colossians 3:25 gives me trouble. I know that just before it is written you will get your reward from him. But then it says whosoever does wrong will be paid for those wrongs. What about forgiveness?

A. The context of Colossians 3:25 is slaves obeying their earthly masters. Beginning with Colossians 3:23 it says,

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

His point is a master who mistreats his slaves will have to answer to God. He’ll be punished while the slave will receive a reward. Paul was assuming that any one who mistreated someone else would have to be an unbeliever, for whom there is no forgiveness. In Colossians 4:1 he addressed believing masters, reminding them to do what is right and fair because they have a Master in heaven.

As you can see, Paul was saying that while life is often unfair, believers don’t have to worry about it. Our time on Earth is seen as service to the Lord and we’ll receive our reward from Him, while those who’ve taken advantage of us will be punished.

Before you start thinking this only applied to Paul’s time remember that most people are every bit as much in slavery today as people were then. To the extent that we have to earn money to fund our lifestyle, we’re enslaved. For most people well over 90% of their income is pledged to someone else before they even receive it, and many have no reserves set aside to cover their obligations in case the paycheck stops coming. The only ones who are free are those who can live the lifestyle they’ve chosen without any concern for it’s cost.

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