Not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
i.e.to those who serve, whatever their position as servants may be; whether in the position of bond slaves as in the days of Paul, or of hired servants as in our own day, or of merchants, physicians, lawyers, ministers, or young men, who, for remuneration of any kind, undertake to serve individuals or the public, To all such the exhortation of our text is, that they should discharge their duties, "not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ." But the exhortation of our text is of far wider application. It is equally applicable to "masters" - to those who are served, as truly as to those who serve. For immediately after addressing himself to "servants," or "slaves," Paul said (ver. 9), "And ye masters, do the same things unto them." Paul had "the same rule for masters and for servants. And he gave the reason of this, saying, "Ye masters, do the same things unto them, knowing that your Master also is in heaven" - or, as in the margin, "knowing that your and their Master is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him."
I. THE MANNER in which we should discharge our duties to our fellow men.
1. Negatively - how it should not be done. "Not with eye-service." This is a word which Paul coined and struck in the royal mint of his own ardent and honest mind. I am not aware that it was ever heard before. But it is a word so true and graphic that it tells its own meaning. "Eye-service" is either service done only to please the eye, but which cannot bear to be tested; or it is good and real service, but only given when the eye of a master sees it. "Not with eye-service" is happily associated with that other word, "not as men-pleasers." For "eye-servants" care only to "please men." The rule of their duty is, not what is fair and honourable, nor even what may reasonably be expected from them, but only as much as will please the eye of their employers. All else is neglected and left undone, if only the failure in service does not appear to be in them. How much there is of eye-service and men-pleasing in all classes!
2. The positive description of our duty - how it should be done: "With fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ." "With fear and trembling." From other parts of Scripture where this expression is found, it is plain that it does not mean "with fear" of punishment, as the slave fears the lash, nor "with trembling" before men, as the slave trembles before his master, but that it means with anxious and tremulous desire to do our duty. And as this "anxiety" to discharge our duty is the opposite of "eye-service," so also, "In singleness of heart as to Christ" is the opposite or contrary to, "as men-pleasers." "Not as men-pleasers," but "in singleness of heart, as to Christ."
II. THE MOTIVE by which Paul calls us to the discharge of our ordinary earthly duties. He exhorts us to sanctify, to hallow, to ennoble our earthly duties, by doing them "not as to men, but as unto the Lord." Now, consider this motive.
1. Observe, it is addressed to the disciples of Christ - to those who knew and owned Him as their "Lord"; to the blood bought, the redeemed, the renewed disciples of Christ; to those who, believing in Him, have been pardoned for all past transgressions, and have been born again of His Holy Spirit. It is not now the Law with its lash and its rewords urging men in general, and saying, "Do this and live" - do it or die. It is Christ the Saviour who speaks to His saved ones, and says, "Ye live, therefore do this - Ye live through Me, do this to Me."
2. Mark how this motive sweetens, sanctifies, ennobles our earthly work. It then becomes a part of our worship. Animated by such a thought, the school boy diligently, joyfully applies himself to his task. The clerk needs no other master's eye over him to keep him to his work. The tradesman carefully executes his orders to the last stitch, when he feels that he works not merely for men, but for Christ. The merchant no longer sells spurious or adulterated goods, when he feels that he sells, not to men, but to the Lord Himself. The minister, the physician, the lawyer, are no longer content with a formal or perfunctory discharge of duty. The creditor, presenting his account, asks no more than is really due, and the debtor faithfully pays it. And now, in conclusion, you can understand why the apostle specially and formally addressed this exhortation to servants - nay, to "slaves." The exhortation is equally applicable to masters. Why, then, did Paul primarily and formally address it to slaves? There was wisdom and tenderness in this. Paul saw and pitied the irksome lot of slaves. He could not break their chains, but he sought to gild and lighten them. He told them that they could make their irksome task pleasant by "doing it to the Lord." He sweetened their lot by showing them that the Lord did not despise them, and would "reward them for the good" they might do. It was a tender and touching thing in Paul first to stoop to wipe the sweat from the brow of slaves. But it was also wisely and well done. For when thus, by enjoining obedience on slaves, he had gained the ear and propitiated the heart of their masters, turning to them he could say with power, "And ye masters, do the same things to them, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven," who demands the same obedience from you. Paul could not emancipate the slaves; but in that appeal to masters he sowed the seed corn, small as a grain of mustard seed, which has produced the harvest of emancipation in every land to which the gospel has come in power.
Parallel VersesKJV: Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;