“Masters, behave in the same way towards your slaves”.
Eph 6:9 GNB
The development of the trade union system brought a whole new era of industrial relations. It is called “collective bargaining” and professional negotiators are employed to promote and defend the interests of the workers. Likewise employers in an industry usually combine together to conduct their side of the process. Much of the economy of a modern country rests on the successful and harmonious settlement of wage demands.
That is a far cry from the situation in the ancient Roman Empire where the workers, (i.e. the slaves) had no rights at all. The masters held the whip-hand, often literally, and many regarded their slaves as not deserving of being treated like human beings. Some slaves had been inherited from a parent. Some had been bought in the slave market where they were exchanged like cattle. Others were acquired as a result of war where it was the custom of the victorious army to round up the working-age and younger people of the conquered nation and take them home as prisoners of war where they were then divided amongst the military staff as rewards for their part in the military campaign. Paul was anxious to see that the masters who were Christian treated their slaves with justice and decency. As Christian slaves were to respect their masters, so the masters were to treat their slaves humanely and with dignity. They were to remember that they were human beings for whom Christ died. The attitude of one Christian to another was always to be guided by love and the difficult relationship between master and slaves would best be characterized by justice and fairness.
Christian employers today should exercise strict justice and fairness as well.
PRAYER THOUGHT Lord, let justice prevail in all industrial relations.