Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
- Everyone is a Worker
- Work is established by God
God is the authority
Working is a part of God’s image in man!
Genesis 1: 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Genesis 2: 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
- Employers and employees are workers
From our passage, both employers and employees have responsibilities to God. You can view it as a purpose if you would like.
And both of these roles are extremely important! If you think badly of employers, then you need to think again! If you don’t think employers have to put up with a lot… Retell the story about Stoby’s putting in a point of sale system and it improving the profitability of the business like 5%. Theft of property is irritating. Employees steal tools, materials, time etc. Employees lie to you and tell you that they have done things when they have not. Managing people will lower your expectations of people tremendously. I have hired people, paid them their first check, gone to their apartment at 5:30 in the morning because they didn’t show up for work for work at 5, awakened a friend sleeping on the floor who said they weren’t there and then never saw them again. Then I worked their shift for free because I was salaried. It is easy to become jaded, angry, discouraged and mean as a manager of people.
- Work connects us to purpose
Function and beauty: it is good!
Dark, formless and empty. And then God works.
Chaos is replaced by order, the empty is made full. And beauty is established in creation. Think about all of the things that you see in nature that are so beautiful that you are filled with awe.
Jenny Giles can make a wallet out of duct tape. Pete Calvert can fix anything. Dean Castleberry makes friends. Jennifer Sloan can mother children, build a pen for her goats and describe the environment necessary for fish and game to thrive.
Names: Baker, Barber, Brewer, Carpenter, Cook, Cooper, Fisher, Fowler, Gardner, Mason, Roper, Smith, Tanner, Taylor, Wagner, Weaver, Wheeler etc.
- Work doesn’t work properly
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
Weeds, bugs, drought, floods, wind, hail, cold, hot. There are issues. We had friends in Nebraska who did dry land wheat farming. They always struggled to get a full crop. If you have ever seen what a hail storm can do to a corn field, to a wheat field, it is frightening.
Just like marriage, just like family and child rearing, just like our relationship with God are all complicated and diminished because of sin, so is work. But, Paul gives us a pathway for making things better!
James 1: 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
And then there are the other workers. If you work hard, you will look forward to working harder than your co-workers in an open ended fashion. And you might also find that your managers make your jobs harder. It happens to people on a regular basis. It can become easy to despair!
Worked at K-Mart. Was written up for poor performance and told later that I was one of the best employees that they had. Worked at Baskin-Robbins and left with a letter of praise from the manager commending me as an employee. Worked at Stoby’s, did a good enough job to do every job in the Restaurant, managed for 13 years and then was fired. It happens. I worked as a GED teacher for a month and was harassed by folks that I worked with and so I quit. How in the world can we ever find the satisfaction that we are supposed to find in work?
- Work for God
- Work hard for your employer
God sees you at work. I got into trouble with an employee at Stoby’s one day, the accused me of sucking up to the manager. If you work hard, you will expose laziness. Work hard and be prepared for the push back.
How hard should you work? Reasonably hard. There are some days and some times that you will have to work really hard. Tree work in Paris, AR. We had to get the work done that day or else my employer would lose money. We kept our mouths shut, kept our heads down and worked three hours in the dark to clean up a job that the boss bid poorly. There were days in the restaurant when I worked ten hours straight as hard as I could with no break of any kind. No food, nothing to drink, just head down and getting after it.
If you work to make your employer successful, they will take you with them. Today I have a gift card from Stoby’s in my wallet. They will allow me to eat $500 worth of food at retail per quarter as long as I will evaluate the restaurant when I go.
If you work hard together with other people, you will develop a team. You will bond with others. You will make friends. Shared suffering produces bonding. You remember those days when we drank 2.5 gallons of water etc.
- Employers serve your employees
“In the same way” This is no view of slavery that treats people as property. God is the God of us all. And everyone created in the image of God has intrinsic value and is to be respected.
If you serve those under your authority because of God, then you wont’ lose heart when they behave badly. Communicate clearly, and then hold them accountable.
Do not threaten them. See people as more than a commodity. Be life partners with your employees. Do not cheat them. Do not abuse them. God views you as equals and will judge you for the way that you work with others.
- What does God think about your work?
Does He care when your boss is bad? Yes. He will allow this at times, but it has been my experience that it does not last. But it is painful. If you can find another job, that is fine, in the meantime, do a good job. Will God judge your sorry boss? Yes He will.
Does God want you to do a good job at work? What does that look like? It looks like doing the job you are hired to do, taking responsibility for helping things in general to go as smoothly as possible. Looking out for the best interests of the business. Why do this? Because it’s the way that God is! And it is the way that you will be happiest at work!