When I was in college I had a couple of professor’s that I really worked hard for. First, because they expected a lot and graded “hard,” but second, because I respected them. I wanted to earn their respect.
On the other hand, there were a few classes that I took outside my major that I didn’t value at all. One class, in particular, was a complete joke. The professor was a push over. Few assignments were graded and our final exam was open note.
Since I didn’t respect the professor or the set up of the course, I didn’t work hard. In fact, I hardly worked. I didn’t do the weekly reading—I didn’t even buy the book. I took few notes in class, but put together enough of a study sheet to coast through the final exam and still receive an “A.”
Two different kinds of professors, two different work ethics.
Yet, while the grades were the same, the learning was not.
Wait a minute—isn’t that what college is supposed to be about? Learning? Not grades. Not the respect of respected professors—but my learning.
In 1 Peter 2:18, the apostle instructs Christian slaves to submit to their masters and serve them with all respect, essentially, whether they deserve it or not.
“18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”
Peter is not condoning or condemning slavery, he’s simply shepherding believers who happen to be slaves. His instruction to slaves is an example of a specific application to the exhortations he has already given in verses 12 and 17, where he instructs believers to live “such good lives among the pagans” and to “show proper respect to everyone.”
Peter says, submit to your masters and serve them whether they deserve your respect or not. Whether they mistreat you or not.
How might we apply this passage to our lives today?
We must look for a universal principle that can be applied to a myriad of contexts:
Who you work for shouldn’t affect how hard you work.
If that’s your boss, your customer, your teacher. Whether or not they are competent, arrogant or abusive.
As Paul said in Colossians 3:23 (when he addressed slaves), “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”