Encourage slaves to submit to their masters in everything, to be pleasing to them, not to be argumentative with them, not to steal from them, but to demonstrate their complete trustworthiness, so that they may show the teaching of God our Savior to be attractive in every way. Titus 2:9-10 (EHV).
It’s about submission, not slavery.
Slavery is an off-limits topic in our politically-correct culture. We aren’t allowed to acknowledge that slavery happened except in terms of denouncing it in the most vociferous tone. No doubt: slavery is an abomination and a wrong. No doubt, too, that more people than just Americans were or held slaves throughout human history. Indeed, it’s occurring, still, today, on every continent except, perhaps, Antarctica.
How does Paul advise us to deal with slavery? Encourage slaves to be submissive. WHAT? Yep. Encourage those suffering through the degrading misery of human bondage to submit to their masters as a reflection of submitting to God. Demonstrate patience and endurance. Demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness. Demonstrate these qualities that slaveowners, through their very role, are lacking. Do so as a way that the slave owners and others may see Jesus through us, through the example of trust in Him. As Jesus said, “let your light sine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Right on, right on.
God didn’t make slavery, but He allows it to occur so that people may learn to depend on Him. God didn’t make cruelty but He allows it so that others may learn love for Him instead. God didn’t invent political-correctness but He allows this modern slavery to ideology so that we might see He’s so much bigger than our nonsense. We get to see that by first submitting to Him.
It isn’t PC to talk about positive things that resulted from slavery. Historically speaking, after emancipation, the black community in America was the most cohesive, familial, dignified and faith-based community across all demographics up until the advent of the 1960s Great Society. Even under the oppression of Jim Crow, former slaves rose to overcome that oppression with dignity and honor; if only those oppressing would have done the same. Perhaps God’s message (through Paul) to us today is to endure the unendurable with that same dignity and honor. He encourages us to submit to Christ by submitting to those who would put us in bonds in a thousand different ways. This so that, to God may be the glory.
For further reading: Matthew 5:16, Luke 1:47, Ephesians 6:5, Titus 2:11.
Lord God, to You be the glory in all things, even the worst that humanity can conceive. Remind me always to submit to You in all ways.