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1 Timothy 6:1-2 | "Worthy of All Honor"

[1 Timothy] How We Conduct Ourselves in the Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Sunday, November 27, 2022. 1 Timothy 6:1-2 | "Worthy of All Honor." Preached in a series of sermons through 1 Timothy: How We Conduct Ourselves In The Church, to Heritage Bible Chapel in Princeton, MA.

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I. The Reading

1 Timothy 6:1 NASB 95
1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.
1 Timothy 6:2 NASB 95
2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
This is God’s Word, Amen.

II. The Exhortation

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Christmas season, where we remind ourselves every year of that great doctrine of incarnation, how God became a man — Immanuel, God with us — to save us from our sin.
Ushering us into the Advent season was this past week of Thanksgiving. Let’s not move on too quickly from the subject of thanksgiving.
Giving thanks is a lifestyle for the people of God.
God’s Word tells us that giving thanks is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
1 Thessalonians 5:15 NASB 95
15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 NASB 95
16 Rejoice always;
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB 95
17 pray without ceasing;
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB 95
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
As we consider out text in 1 Timothy 6 this morning, may I ask us a thanksgiving question for honest reflection?
Which is it —
Is it God’s will that our circumstances change, so that we may then give thanks?
Or, is it God’s will for us to give thanks no matter our circumstances?
[ Repeat ]
Is it God’s will that our circumstances change, so that we may then give thanks? In other words, does God will for our circumstances to change?
Or, is it God’s will for us to give thanks no matter our circumstances?
Which one is God’s will for us? Which one is God’s will for you?
God’s Word says:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB 95
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
God’s will is for us to give thanks in everything — in every circumstance!
Not BECAUSE of everything. But IN everything.
So what does this tell us then, about our circumstances?
Brothers and sisters —
Our circumstances may not change, yet by God’s grace we may still give thanks in them.
This is God’s will!
There are false gospels being preached that tell us that Christ changes our circumstances.
Maybe He does. Maybe He will. — But maybe He won’t?!
Does that change what God has done for you?
Does that mean you are going to throw off Jesus and abandon the faith because life doesn’t look like what you thought it would as a Christian?
Think about a man in prison, who is serving a life sentence.
Assume with me that man goes into prison as a sinner, living for himself, a man of lawlessness, a rebel, an enemy of God.
But by God’s mercy, while in prison, that man hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ, receives that Gospel by faith, repents from his sin, and by God’s grace is born again, washed by the Word, cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and is forever changed!
The sun sets that evening in prison, the man goes to sleep in his cell, and in the morning he awakes as a believer - still in prison. Still surrounded by concrete and iron bars.
What changed for that man?
God changed his heart, but did God change his circumstances?
Isn’t that man still in prison, still serving a life sentence?
He’s still there. So what changed for him?
His circumstances have not changed, but his mission has. Overnight, that man has been commissioned as a missionary for the King eternal in that prison.
Many people have to go in to prisons from the outside to be witnesses for Jesus on the inside, but this man is now able to to be a witness for Jesus from within.
This man’s condition did not change, but his commission did! And perhaps there will be no better witness in that prison to other prisoners than that man, who is also a prisoner.
Let’s talk about contentment for a minute.
What do we make of someone like Paul who wrote in Philippians 4:11-13
Philippians 4:11 NASB 95
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
Philippians 4:12 NASB 95
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Philippians 4:13 NASB 95
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Was Paul content because of his circumstances? — No! Not because of his circumstances.
Paul learned to be content “in whatever circumstances I am” through Him who strengthens me. That is, through Christ.
Someone may come to faith in Christ, and be a member of Christ’s church, and still have a bad boss, and still have a dysfunctional family, and still have challenges ahead of them. They may still be carrying a burden of suffering.
These conditions and circumstances may not change. But what does change?
And the answer is grace! The answer is Christ!
God gives His people grace in Jesus Christ not to change our earthly circumstances, but rather to honor God in them, no matter what those circumstances are.
And this brings us to a real challenge in our faith.
What happens, brothers and sisters, when our spiritual condition is in conflict with our social condition?
What happens when Monday doesn’t look like Sunday?
When on Sunday, we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, clothed with Christ. So that —
Galatians 3:28 NASB 95
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
But on Monday…well let’s just say, “We aren’t in Church anymore.”
What happens when we aren’t in Church anymore, and the spiritual promises and blessings that we KNOW we have in Christ, that we KNOW we share in the fellowship of the Son, that we KNOW belong to us as children of God on the authority of God’s infallible Word IN HERE — aren’t manifest in the relationships and circumstances of life OUT THERE!
What happens when our spiritual and social conditions collide and conflict?
This is a very real problem for us as Christians: How to deal with hypocrisy and inconsistency as we live out the faith in a lost world.
How do we go back OUT into the world from the comforts of the Sanctuary and live as witnesses for Jesus in different social conditions that do not reflect our spiritual condition celebrated within the Christ community?
May God give us grace and understanding as we hear from His Word.

III. The Teaching

1 Timothy 6, Verse 1, begins this way:
6.1a
1 Timothy 6:1 (NASB 95)
1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor...
Who is this instruction given for?
This instruction is given for members of the Church who find themselves in a specific condition.
Notice the opening words: “All who are…”
All who are … this instruction is not addressing everyone.
The Church of Jesus Christ consists of a variety of conditions and circumstances.
Not everyone in the church is an older man, or young men, or older women, or younger women.
Not everyone in the church is a widow, and not all widows are “widows indeed.”
Not everyone in the church are elders. And not all elders rule well, or work hard at preaching and teaching.
This instruction of Chapter 6 verse 1, while it benefits all who hear God’s Word, it is given for those in a very particular condition.
This instruction is given for “All who are” … what?
The text says —
“All who are under the yoke..”
A yoke is a bent frame of wood meant to control working animals bearing a burden (see BDAG).
That’s the imagery.
So a person “under a yoke” was a person under the control of someone else. Bearing a burden for someone else.
Jesus said:
Matthew 11:28 NASB 95
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:29 NASB 95
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:30 NASB 95
30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The apostle is not writing to Christians under Christ’s yoke. For the text qualifies their plight further —
1 Timothy 6:1 (NASB 95)
1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor...
These brothers and sisters are also slaves.
The word “slave” is the word [ δοῦλος ]. It is not a word to be understood only as a servant. That can be misleading.
A δοῦλος is not a free person serving another.
A δοῦλος is a slave. It might better be translated as a “bond-servant.”
This word δοῦλος often refers to a person who sells himself into slavery to another (see NET tn).
This person may have sold himself as a slave to pay off a debt. It may be to learn a skill. It may be for some other reason - but this δοῦλος, although free in Christ, is not free.
And as slaves, these Christian brothers and sisters have masters over them.
And the apostle doesn’t address the masters with God-breathed instructions for how to treat their slaves.
Neither does the apostle speak for or against the institution of slavery here.
He touches on that in other places, he encourages slaves or bondservants to avail themselves of the opportunity to gain their freedom if they can - 1 Cor 7:21. But in this text, that is clearly not his aim.
Paul is a man who has learned contentment in any circumstance. Paul is a man who understands giving thanks in everything. And the grace at work to bring about that kind of contentment and thanksgiving in one’s life is a work of God on a person’s heart through Christ no matter one’s life circumstances.
Paul addresses these Christian slaves with God-breathed instruction and he commands them:
1 Timothy 6:1 (NASB 95)
1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor...
Now honor is more than lip-service. Honor is something that proceeds from the heart.
Jesus taught this. Jesus spoke of the Pharisees and scribes —
Matthew 15:7 NASB 95
7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
Matthew 15:8 NASB 95
8 This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
Matthew 15:9 NASB 95
9 But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ ”
Honor is more than lip-service. That is true honor acts toward another (see also BDAG).
Honor cannot hide behind respectful words. Honor takes action.
1 Timothy 6:1 (NASB 95)
1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor...
This is difficult instruction.
It is one thing to show honor to the Lord and perform good works for His name.
1 Timothy 1:17 NASB 95
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The King eternal, the only God, is worthy of honor!
It is one thing to show honor to widows and perform good works for them.
1 Timothy 5:3 NASB 95
3 Honor widows who are widows indeed;
Widows who show hospitality to strangers, who wash the saints’ feet, who assist those in distress, being devoted to every good work - these widows are worthy of honor!
It is one thing to show elders honor and perform good works for them.
1 Timothy 5:17 NASB 95
17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
Elders who rule well, who work hard at preaching and teaching, are worthy of double honor!
But now the apostle gives instructions to Christians in the church who are slaves and instructs them to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor...
Notice the implied tension here in this text.
For unlike the Lord, the widows and the elders, the apostle does not teach that these masters are worthy of all honor. Only that they are to be regarded in such a way.
The apostle does not list sacrifices or good deeds of faith that the masters have done that make them worthy. He does not laud their character and testimony.
Instead, he teaches that, though undeserving as they may be, these masters are to be regarded as worthy of all honor by Christian slaves under their yoke.
Not because the master is worthy of all honor, but because God is.
There is a reason for this instruction, and that reason is God — God’s name and doctrine.
Look with me at verse 1 again:
6.1b
1 Timothy 6:1 (NASB 95)
1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.
These slaves are commissioned in their condition.
They are commissioned to be witnesses for God’s name in their condition as they are, as slaves of their own masters.
Notice that their Christian witness does not change in their circumstances.
What these slaves do, or don’t do, has a direct bearing on the reputation of God.
“So that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.”
The name of God is the reputation of God.
And if Christian slaves regard their masters as anything other than worthy of all honor, then that Christian slave undermines God’s reputation in the eyes of his master.
What will that master think about God, if a Christian slave shows disrespect for authority, is a lazy worker, a rebel, a complainer...
On the contrary, what will that master think about God, if a Christian slave respects authority, works hard, shows honor and speaks well?
Brothers and sisters, the name of God is at stake in all that we say and do!
May we never give reason for another person to speak against the name of our God and our doctrine!
The doctrine, literally “the teaching” is the gospel that sets us free from the slavery of sin and death to serve the living God!
The word “speak against” is the word blaspheme. It is the opposite of “honor.”
And so if a slave fails to regard his master with honor, why then should his master give honor to the Lord on his account? Instead, his master will blaspheme the name of God because of him.
This is the sin to avoid.
Let not our attitude and actions, no matter our circumstances, give reason for someone to blaspheme the name of God and the gospel.
Remember Joseph.
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s house. And because the Lord was with Joseph, even as a slave, the Lord caused all that Joseph did to prosper and blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph.
The Bible says that Potiphar, Joseph’s master, left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge — his slave; and with Joseph there Potiphar did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate (Gen 39:6).
And the story goes on about terrible things that happened to Jospeh.
He was lied about. Imprisoned. But throughout, Joseph maintained his witness for the Lord, and because Joseph maintained his witness for the Lord in all of these circumstances, he was able to say before his death - “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 50:20).
Brothers and sisters, God cares deeply about his name and his reputation and his glory.
If our social circumstances don’t match up with our spiritual circumstances, take that as an opportunity to be missionaries - witnesses for the name of God.
For masters of slaves can come to faith, too. Who knows, if God might be using you, oh slave, to bring about the salvation of your master?
Look with me at verse 2 —
6.2a
1 Timothy 6:2 (NASB 95)
2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren...
Verse 1 gave instruction for all who are under the yoke — all Christians who are slaves.
The motive for regarding masters as worthy of all honor is clearly evangelistic and missional - so that God’s name and gospel might not be blasphemed.
Verse 2 narrows this focus further, to slaves that have believers as their masters.
In like manner, as difficult as such a situation might be, Christian slaves with believers as masters are not to be disrespectful to them because they are brethren.
Just because that master is a brother does not give a fellow brother, who is also a slave, the right to disrespect.
We can feel the tension here. The tension in that a master who is a Christian would have a slave who is a Christian is palpable. But that is not the issue the apostle addresses here.
A slave who is not a slave ( in Christ ), but is a slave in society, even to a Christian master, is to show that master respect because that master is a brother.
And while the Gospel may not change that slave’s circumstance as master/slave, the Gospel does redefine that relationship in Christ.
That master is called three things in verse 2. Read it with me again —
6.2b
1 Timothy 6:2 (NASB 95)
2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
A Christian master is a brother, believer, and beloved.
And that slave is to serve all the more, because that service is providing a benefit to a brother who is a fellow believer and beloved.
That phrase “partake of the benefit” is an interesting phrase. The word “benefit” is another word for “service” or “good deed.” It is the word “εὐεργεσίας."
Usually, that word “εὐεργεσίας” is associated with good works or actions of one who is IN authority toward one who is UNDER him (NIGTC).
In this text, that word “εὐεργεσίας” should be speaking about how the master (the one in authority) acts to benefit the slave (one under him).
But in this text it is reversed. In God’s household, God’s economy, this is reversed!
It is the slave (the one under authority) who acts in a way that benefits the master (one over him).
The Gospel gives slaves the grace to benefit their masters, even believing masters, even if their societal circumstances don’t change.
And this is what it means to be a slave, not just of an earthly master, but a slave of Christ.
Ephesians 6 says it this way —
Ephesians 6:5 NASB 95
5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;
Ephesians 6:6 NASB 95
6 not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
Ephesians 6:7 NASB 95
7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
Ephesians 6:8 NASB 95
8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

The [ Christ ] Conclusion

God gives His people grace in Jesus Christ not to change our earthly circumstances, but rather to honor God in them, no matter what those circumstances are.
And this is the lesson of this text.
The Apostle does not tell slaves to resist and rebel and change their present circumstances.
Instead he commissions them as slaves of Christ to represent Christ in their slavery.
Brothers and sisters - is this not a lesson for us, too?
As we turn our attention to Advent, to Christmas, to the incarnation - isn’t this what Jesus teaches us, too?
Hear a reading from Philippians 2, God’s Word says —
Philippians 2:1 NASB 95
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
Philippians 2:2 NASB 95
2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Philippians 2:3 NASB 95
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
Philippians 2:4 NASB 95
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:5 NASB 95
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 2:6 NASB 95
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
Philippians 2:7 NASB 95
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:8 NASB 95
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:9 NASB 95
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
Philippians 2:10 NASB 95
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Philippians 2:11 NASB 95
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:12 NASB 95
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
Philippians 2:13 NASB 95
13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:14 NASB 95
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
Philippians 2:15 NASB 95
15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
Philippians 2:16 NASB 95
16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
Philippians 2:17 NASB 95
17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.
Philippians 2:18 NASB 95
18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
May God help us as we —
(6.2c)
1 Timothy 6:2 (NASB 95)
2 ...Teach and preach these principles.
To the glory of God, who alone is worthy of all honor. Amen.
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