Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Just and fair.
With God we don’t want justice and fairness because it means we would receive punishment for sin. This is the Good News, that Christ died in our place. We get grace and mercy instead of justice and fairness. It’s a good deal on our end.
But among us, as we deal with one another, God always asks us to be just and fair. There are many proverbs dedicated to this very truth. We know that God defends the defenseless.
Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight. Proverbs 11:11
We spent quite a bit of time talking about submitting to authority and doing the best we can as employees if for no other reason than because we represent Christ.
It’s hard to reconcile being a Christian in the workplace and wages. We read about the parable of the day laborers, each received at the end of the day what they agreed to work for. At least, that’s where I struggle. “Yes, Lord, I did agree to work for this wage.” Usually a “but” comes after that.
As an employee, I appreciate that there is a word for masters (employers). Give to them what is just and fair. Sometimes, an advocate is required. In most cases, God is our advocate. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly, take it to God in prayer. Maybe God will change the heart of your employer or maybe He’ll show you another way.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1
In the extreme case of Onesimus, a runaway slave, Paul made a case to his friend Philemon, asking him to allow Paul to pay the debt owed to him.
If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. Philemon 1:17-18
Yet, for the employer, supervisor, boss, God says to give their employees what is just and fair, reminding him that he also is accountable. There’s no need to call for political activism if both parties are living as they were called.
To the employees, God commands them to work as unto the Lord, regardless.
To the employers, God commands to give their employees what is just and fair.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Questions for Further Thought:
- What is your impression of this passage?
- What is your view of justice?
- Further Study: I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.
- Matthew 20:1-16
- Proverbs 9:9
- Proverbs 16:8
- Psalm 82:3-4
- Proverbs 21:3