“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,” Ephesians 6:5-6 ESV
Through the Bible: Ephesians 1-6
This little word “eye-service” caught my eye (no pun intended) in yesterdays reading, where Colossians 3:2 is nearly identical to Ephesians 6:6. These two verses are the only time this word is used. I’m going to break it down in the Greek, and you may realize you know more Greek than you think you do!
The word translated “eye-service” is ὀφθαλμοδουλία. Transliterated, it’s opthalmodoulia. Look at the second part: doulia is a form of the Greek word doulos,which is slave or servant. It’s Paul’s favorite self-descriptor. Most of his letters begin with “Paul, a servant (doulos) of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now, look at the first half: ophthalmo— You see it, right? (Oops, I did it again.) it means “of, or pertaining to the eyes.”
So put it together, and “eye-service” is the most literal translation. Paul was describing a servant who only did his job when the master was watching. And he’s encouraging believers who are slaves or servants to do better than that. Submit to your earthly masters even when they aren’t around to supervise you.
What a great word for today! We are to demonstrate character and integrity in the workplace, doing our jobs with excellence even when the boss isn’t around.
But even more importantly, we are to serve the Lord with character and integrity even when no one’s watching. Even when we are out of town on a business trip, or after everyone else has gone to bed and it’s just us and our smartphone.
We like to claim the scriptures that talk about how God is always watching us when we want to be comforted. We find incredible peace from verses such as Psalm 139:2-3—“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” But today, let’s remember that those same Scriptures can keep us accountable. Hebrews 4:13 says that “everything is laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Beloved, today, let’s give more than eye-service to our Master.