Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy who was not only a spiritual son in the faith, but also a co-labourer in the work of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first ten verses of the sixth chapter of the epistle. In the previous chapter the apostle Paul instructed Timothy concerning the elders within the church, and how instead of rebuking them, he was intreat them as fathers. Continuing along these lines the apostle Paul would go on to further instruct Timothy to intreat the younger men as brothers in Christ, the younger women as sisters in Christ, and the elder women as mothers. As you continue reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fifth chapter, you will find the apostle Paul providing further instruction to Timothy concerning the widows of the faith—those women who were at one point married, but experienced a tremendous loss in the death of their husband. The apostle Paul set forth specific instructions for how to treat widows among them in the house of the Lord—not only the elder widows who have had more experience in life, but also younger widows who was present among them. The apostle Paul wanted to ensure Timothy knew and understand how he should treat, response and behave towards the elder women and elder men, the younger men and younger women, as well as God’s seemingly forgotten people—even forgotten within the church among the members of the body of Christ. When we come to the sixth chapter of the very same epistle we find the apostle Paul transitioning within the letter to Timothy to write and speak to him concerning servants and their masters. It is quite clear when reading the fifth and sixth chapters of this first epistle written unto Timothy the apostle Paul was seeking to clearly define social relationships within the house of the Lord—and not only within the house of the Lord, but also in the world around them in which they lived. Perhaps one of the most incredible and tremendous realities found within the Scripture is the overwhelming amount of instruction the Lord gives and provides concerning social relationships—both those social relationships within the house of the Lord, as those social relationships outside the body of Christ, and outside the house of the Lord.
As I am sitting here right now I can’t help but find myself asking the question whether or not I am social, or whether or not I am socially awkward. What I mean by that question is whether or not I truly know and understand how to interact with those whom I encounter on a daily basis, or whether I am just continuing on through life pretending I know how to interact with, respond to, and treat those whom I interact with—not only in the place where I work, but also within the house of the Lord. Do I even know how to act within my own home and with those closest to me? Do I know how to act toward those individuals within my life who I would consider as friends and/or acquaintances, or am I just pretending to know how? The more I read the ancient words written and found within the text of Scripture the more I am forced to come face to face with the tremendous amount of instruction provided unto us regarding social relationships and social interactions within our culture and society. What I find to be absolutely incredible is that the apostle Paul wasn’t merely concerned with how we interact with those among us within the body of Christ and within the house of the Lord, but also outside the house of the Lord with those around us whom we interact with on a daily basis. Did you know that Jesus the Christ is not only interested with how you interact with those who are present within and among His body here on the earth, but also how you interact with those outside the body of Christ and outside the house of the Lord? It is possible that we can get so caught up with and so consumed with the relationships we have within the house of the Lord and among the members of the body of Christ that we completely neglect the tremendous responsibility we have towards those outside the body of Christ. When you read the words which the apostle Paul writes in the sixth chapter of the first epistle which was written unto Timothy you will find him writing and providing instruction unto Timothy concerning the relationship that exists between servants and their masters. It’s absolutely imperative that we recognize that during this time period it wasn’t uncommon for various individuals to have servants who served under them, and even during the days of Jesus we find various individuals who had servants under them. I can’t help but be reminded of the account within the gospels concerning Jesus and the Roman centurion. If you begin reading with and from the fifth verse of the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew you will find the account of a Roman centurion who came unto Jesus beseeching Him on behalf of his servant. Consider if you will the account which took place between Jesus the Christ and this Roman centurion:
“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour” (Matthew 8:5-13).
What we find in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is only one account of this centurion who entreated Jesus that He might heal his servant. If you journey to the New Testament gospel which was written by Luke you will find another account of the centurion and Jesus—although this encounter is recorded a little differently from that which Matthew recorded. As you begin reading with and from the first verse of the seventh chapter you will find the following words which describe the Roman centurion and his entreating of Jesus concerning and regarding his servant. Consider if you will the account of this centurion and Jesus beginning with and from the first verse of the seventh chapter: “Now when He had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when He was not not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto Him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy top come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick” (Luke 7:1-10). Within these ten verses found in the gospel according to Luke we find a second account of Jesus and this centurion—albeit, in Luke’s rendering of this account we find that initially the servant sent unto Jesus the elders of the Jews unto Jesus in hopes that He would heal his servant. As Jesus approached the place where the centurion and his servant were the centurion sent friends unto Jesus declaring unto Him that he was not worthy to have Jesus come under his roof. The centurion then began speaking of authority, for not only was he a man who was under authority, but he was also a man of authority, as he had servants and soldiers under him. What we find in this particular passage of Scripture is not only an account of this centurion’s relationship and interaction with Jesus, but we also find a powerful account of authority, as this centurion recognized that he himself was not only a man under authority, but also a man in authority.
A MAN UNDER AUTHORITY & A MAN IN AUTHORITY! I have to admit that I absolutely love the account of this centurion, for he recognized something that very few of us truly recognize—much less actually understand and live out within and throughout the course of our lives. The centurion originally entreated Jesus that He would come unto him and unto his house and heal his servant, but at some point from the entreaty to the actual visitation something stirred within the centurion, for he actually declared unto Jesus that he was not worthy to have Him come into his house and come under his roof. BETWEEN THE ENTREATY AND THE VISITATION! If you read both of these accounts carefully you will find the Roman centurion having no issue with entreating Jesus to come unto him in order that He might heal his servant, however, the closer Jesus came to his house, the more the centurion began thinking within himself that he was not worthy to have Jesus come into his house and under his roof. The centurion then begins to appeal to the reality and concept of authority within his own life to demonstrate and express the authority that is contained within the word(s) and command(s) of Jesus Christ. The centurion recognized the authority that was vested in him over servants and soldiers alike, for the centurion not only spoke of instructing those soldiers under him to go, but also unto his servants to do. WHEN SOLDIERS ARE INSTRUCTED TO GO! WHEN SERVANTS ARE INSTRUCTED TO DO! I have to admit that I absolutely love the account of this centurion and the mention of both servants and soldiers under him, for if you carefully consider our place within the kingdom of God you will find that not only are we soldiers before the Lord, but we are also servants of the most High God. This centurion recognized the authority that was vested in and placed upon him, and he recognized the tremendous authority and weight that was bound in his word(s) and command(s), for he needed but speak the word “Go” unto those soldiers under him and they go, and he needed but speak the word “Come” unto those soldiers under him and they come. Furthermore, this centurion also spoke of those servants which were under him, and he understood the authority he held in direct connection to those servants, for he needed but speak the word “Do,” and the servants carried out that for which they were instructed.
It is absolutely imperative and necessary that we recognize and understand the words which this centurion sent unto Jesus, for this centurion recognized and understood himself to first be a man under authority, and secondly to be a man in authority. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand concerning our lives—is that regardless of whether or not we may be one who is in authority—we are first and foremost those who are under authority. We dare not get so caught up and consumed with the authority we exercise within our lives over those who might be entrusted into our care that we completely neglect, reject, and even ignore the fact that we are under authority. I am utterly and completely convinced that what we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture is a powerful lesson unto us concerning our place under authority. What’s more, is that I am convinced that one of the hardest and most difficult things to carry out within our lives is positioning ourselves under authority. With that being said, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that we are constantly surrounded by authority everywhere we look, for there are countless examples of authority within our lives. If you travel to your work and place of employment each and every day during the work week you are most likely underneath at least one person in authority. If you find yourself walking within and among society, you will find yourself surrounded by the authority that is vested in the various law enforcement agencies which are present within the city, the state, and even the nation itself. If you enter into the house of the Lord you will find yourself under authority once more, for the Lord has chosen to not only place you within the body in a specific location, but the Lord has also chosen to place you into the care of those whom He has raised up in that specific place. Perhaps one of the most powerful lessons we can learn from this encounter between Jesus the Christ and this Roman centurion is our placement under authority, and our place in and with authority. If I am being honest with you who are reading this writing, I would dare say that one of the greatest reasons this centurion was able to be entrusted as a man in and with authority was because he was first and foremost one who knew how to operate under authority. This centurion knew the authority that had been given unto and entrusted into his care, and he knew the authority that was found in his word—both the word which he spoke unto those soldiers under him, and those servants who were also under him.
This centurion knew the authority that was found in the word, the instruction and command that proceeded forth from his mouth, and he recognized the authority which Jesus possessed, as well as the authority that was bound and contained within the word(s) which Jesus spoken. I absolutely love the account of this centurion, for he was not only a man who understood his place under authority, but he also understood the tremendous authority and power that was bound in the word(s) and command(s) he spoke. It was that knowledge which allowed him to recognize the authority that was placed upon Jesus, and the authority that was bound in the word(s) which Jesus could and would speak. The reason Jesus so marveled at this centurion was not only because he recognized that he himself was a man under authority and a man in and with authority, but also because he recognized the authority that was placed upon Jesus, and the authority that was found in the word(s) which Jesus spoke. This centurion began by sending the elders of the Jews unto Jesus to make entreaty of him, however, the closer he came to the hour of visitation, the more he was gripped with the tremendous reality concerning authority. WHEN AUTHORITY AFFECTS OUR INTERACTION WITH JESUS! I absolutely love how the reality and concept of authority directly impacted this centurion’s interaction with Jesus, for this centurion allowed his concept and perception of authority to directly influence how Jesus moved and operated within his life. When the centurion sent his friends unto Jesus declaring unto Him that He should not trouble Himself to come under his roof, we must recognize and understand that he wasn’t retracting his entreaty that Jesus heal his servant, but rather that Jesus merely speak the word that would bring forth his servant’s healing. How absolutely remarkable and wonderful it is that this servant knew and recognized the authority that was bound and contained within the word(s) and command(s) which Jesus spoke, for he essentially invited Jesus to merely speak the word that would bring about the healing of his servant. INVITING JESUS TO SPEAK THE WORD THAT BRINGS FORTH HEALING! INVITING JESUS TO SPEAK THE WORD THAT CHANGES OUR SITUATIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES! I absolutely love that this centurion didn’t ask Jesus not to heal his servant, but what he did ask was that Jesus merely speak the word which would bring healing into his home. INVITING JESUS TO SPEAK THE WORD THAT BRINGS HEALING INTO THE HOME! I love this centurion’s response to Jesus, for that which he was essentially doing was inviting the power of God to be manifested in his home as a direct result of the spoken word of Jesus. INVITING THE POWER OF GOD INTO OUR SITUATION THROUGH THE SPOKEN WORD OF JESUS! How absolutely remarkable is it that this centurion knew and believed that even if and even though Jesus would not come under his roof, his servant could in fact be healed—simply because Jesus spoke the word which brought forth his healing. Oh that we would recognize and understand that the power of God can be manifested directly in the midst of our situations and circumstances—simply by appealing to the concept of authority, and entreating the Lord that He but speak the word that releases the manifestation of the power of God that directly impacts what we are experiencing.
What a truly powerful example the account of this centurion is about the authority that is contained within the word(s) and command(s) which Jesus can speak—authority to directly impact, transform and change absolutely any circumstance and situation we find ourselves experiencing and in the midst of. Oh that we would recognize and understand—and even have the faith and confidence within ourselves—to believe that the power of God can be directly manifested within our lives, and within any circumstance we face as a direct result of the words which Jesus speaks. Oh that we would truly understand the reality and concept of authority, and that we would understand that Jesus needs but speak the word that can radically alter and transform our situation and circumstances. One final account of the tremendous authority that exists within the word(s) and command(s) which Jesus speaks is only one of many contained within the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. If you journey to the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel according to Mark you will find the account of Jesus and His disciples entering into a ship to cross over to the other side of the region. While in the midst of the ship upon the waters a tremendous and fierce storm arose and threatened the lives of Jesus and His disciples—or so the disciples thought. Consider if you will the account of Jesus and His disciples within this ship in the midst of a fierce storm that rose up against the waters: “And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there was also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him” (Mark 4:35-41). This same account is found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew—although in Matthew’s gospel we don’t actually find the exact words Jesus spoke unto the storm as we do in the gospel according to Mark. Suffice it to say that this account is perhaps one of the most powerful accounts in the four gospels that demonstrates Jesus’ authority to bring peace and calm to any storm we find ourselves in—simply by speaking the word which causes the wind and the waves to cease.
With all of that being said, we must now turn our attention back to the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy, which are recorded in the sixth chapter of the first epistle. As you begin reading the sixth chapter of this first epistle written unto Timothy you will find the apostle Paul writing unto Timothy concerning the relationship between servants and their masters. In the first two verses you will find the following words written concerning the relationship between servants and their masters: “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit” (1 Timothy 6:1-2). Perhaps one of the single greatest passages within Scripture concerning this reality is found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome. Beginning with the first verse you will find the following words: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenge to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due: custom to whom custom: fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Ow no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:1-10). This concept of servants being subject to their masters is further found—not only in the epistle which the apostle wrote unto the saints which were at Ephesus, but also unto the saints which were at Colossae. Consider if you will the words which are found first in the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Ephesus, and then unto the saints which were at Colossae:
“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be gone or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:1-9).
“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ, but he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 3:22-4:1).
As we read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy—first concerning elders, elder women, younger men and younger women, and then concerning the widows of the church—it is quite clear the apostle Paul was very concerned with social relationships within the body of Christ. It is quite clear that the apostle Paul sought to ensure the proper function of relationships within the body of Christ between members, and ensuring that the members of the body know and understand how to interact with each other on a regular basis. If the churches which the apostle Paul wrote to were anything like the church that is found in the New Testament book of Acts then that means that there was a tremendous amount of physical interaction among the members. If the churches unto which the apostle Paul wrote were together as often as the early church was in the book of Acts, then it absolutely makes sense the apostle Paul would be concerned with the social relationships which existed between and among the members. Within the church there was not only elders, elder women, younger men, and younger women, but there was also present in the church servants and masters alike. There were those servants who were not only under the authority of a specific master, but were also themselves saints of the most High God. What’s more, is that it was also possible that there were not only servants who were believers in Jesus Christ, but also masters who were believers in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul sought to provide very specific instruction concerning these relationships, for the apostle Paul was incredibly passionate about the response of the saints to authority. If you read the words contained within the epistles which the apostle Paul wrote you will find that he regularly and continually wrote to the churches instructing them how to interact with each other, as well as to ensure they understood how to live in the midst of the authority that was present before and all around them. Unto the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul instructed the saints to be subject unto the authority and powers which were higher than them, and to demonstrate a willingness to respect and honour authority that was present among them within the earth. When writing unto the churches which were at Ephesus and Colossae the apostle Paul instructed servants to submit to the authority of their masters, and to submit themselves unto their authority as saints of the most High God, and not as men-pleasers.
It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand this, for our testimony can be directly impacted and affected by our response to authority before and around us. Whether we would like to believe and accept it or not, how we respond to authority before us in the earth can directly hinder and impact the testimony we have among men. You notice this in the first verse of this particular chapter when the apostle Paul first instructs servants to count their masters worthy of all honour, and then declares unto them that the reason for doing so is that the name of God and His doctrine might not be blasphemed. It is absolutely imperative that when we read these words we don’t get caught up so much in the language of servant and master, but more so in the language regarding social relationships and our interactions with those all around us. I presented the question earlier on in this writing concerning whether or not we truly know and understand how to interact with those around us, and whether or not we truly know how to be relational people, and I will conclude this writing presenting the same question. Oh, it is true you might very well believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you might very well desire to serve Him faithfully, but do you know how to be relational with those around you? Do you truly know how to interact with those which are around you, and to esteem others as better than yourself? Are you able to get over yourself in order that you might be able to be a relational being who can genuinely interact with those who are around you—both those who are present within the body of Christ, as well as those who are without and outside the body of Christ? I leave you once more with the word which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome, for these words directly challenge our relationships and interactions with others on virtually every scale. It is my prayer that when reading these words we truly examine our own hearts and lives, and seek to understand and recognize whether or not we are able to be relational beings who truly know how to interact with those around us. I leave you with the following words written unto the saints which were at Rome, which are found in the twelfth chapter of the epistle:
“Let love be without dissimulation. Ashore that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).