Ephesians 6:1-9, NRSV:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord,[a] for this is right.2 “Honor your father and mother”—this is the first commandment with a promise: 3 “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6 not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women,8 knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.
9 And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
Methinks this passage is a lot more than just one more of Paul’s “do this, not this” lists for which he is known. And the key is in v.5. He calls on slaves to obey their earthy masters as they obey Jesus. And how do they obey Jesus? “With singleness of heart.”
Because one who follows Jesus with a single-minded heart will be the same person and act the same way whether they are being watched or not. There’s an integrity… a wholeness in the midst of brokenness… that happens when God helps us to love and obey him with a singleness of heart.
And that integrity is not dependent on whether one is slave or free, whether they like their job or not, or whether life is turning out the way they had hoped. It is possible, in Christ, to obey the Lord with a singleness of heart, regardless of circumstance.
May it be so in me. And in you.