9 Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.
I separated this portion from the rest of what Paul is saying here because I know it can cause contention among some of you. Not just our own nation, but many nations bear the scars of slavery. Some think we still are experiencing it, just in a different form. Regardless of what you feel about slavery, this statement is meant to get your attention. Notice Paul isn’t saying, “people should have slaves.” Rather, he is addressing the current state of affairs in the area that Titus is serving. Paul is saying here, “even the people who do not have a whole lot to be happy for should be kind, gentle, and honorable even to their masters.”
Could you imagine being a happy indentured servant? Me either, especially if my master was a jerk. Yet this is exactly what God calls us to be. We talk about leadership and being a good follower of Christ and what that looks like throughout the bible. But what if you don’t have a choice, how then should you behave? This goes back to what I was talking about last week: that our actions and joy comes from what is inside, not how we are treated on the outside. If we simply react to outward stimuli, we are no longer controlled by ourselves or the Holy Spirit in us, but rather by outsiders who most likely don’t care how you feel. Why would you give such control to others?
But, I just mentioned how we still cannot be happy when others treat us like dirt, so what’s the deal? Well, tat is the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of God’s Spirit in us, we not only have the power, but have the reason to act with the Fruit of the Spirit in joy, kindness, self-control, etc. It is not of our own accord or own superiority that we can “rise above” the junk of this world. Maybe we can convince ourselves to be happy for a short period of time; but too often I see people ride the roller coaster of happiness and sadness/ anger because they try to make themselves happy and they cannot sustain it. A fitness instructor I follow closely once offered this advice, “we shouldn’t be trying to emulate those who can lose weight/ fat quickly, but rather those who can maintain a high level of fitness and health over a long period of time.” We just don’t have the endurance it takes to maintain happiness or joy; it is the fruit of the Spirit that can only be obtained by the Spirit. We can even maintain it during times of immense persecution.
Take a moment to contemplate the words of Pastor Saeed, an imprisoned and persecuted Christian in the country of Iran. These words are from a letter he recently sent to his wife.