Finding joy in what we do – Who we work for
MBC, Small group, May 4, 2014
WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR FIRST JOB?
IS JESUS YOUR LEADER OR YOUR BOSS? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LEADER AND A BOSS?
FIST – represents the attitude of people toward someone in authority OR the kind of treatment some bosses give to their employees
OPEN HAND – turning from clenched fist resentment and heavy-fisted treatment of others to an attitude of service
Some studies show employees admit to wasting as much as three hours a day! One study emphasized that most employees do just enough to get by. Would you be satisfied to find out that is true of the people you work with or work for you? More importantly, is God pleased?
READ Ephesians 6:5
Scripture does not promote slavery – Paul simply gives us a theme = keep on being obedient in what you are doing – your work is an offering to the Lord. Paul even gave a reminder that slavery was a temporary thing (according to the flesh).
SHOULD PAUL USE HIS PULPIT TO CALL FOR THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY? Paul believed in the power of the gospel to change lives. The change of the heart by the Holy Spirit would have more of a cultural transformation starting in Greece and then all the way to the western world.
Slaves were expected and obligated to obey their masters – this was not altered by their being a believer. In fact, it was reinforced by Paul. It demonstrates our ability to be obedient to our Heavenly master.
HOW WERE SERVANTS TO APPROACH THEIR WORK?
Fear and trembling – uniquely relating to those who seek wholeheartedly after Jesus. It is related to sincerity of heart. We (the weaker party in the relationship) are to obey our earthly masters (employer, owner, bosses, supervisors, etc.) with respect for their position while at the same time maintaining a singleness of purpose, dedicating our heart to whatever we do. Not so much intimidation, but a healthy fear and a desire to do what is pleasing and give one’s best.
READ Philippians 2:12 – same combination of words for salvation indicating a need to be devoted and faithful to the work – “as unto Christ”
The way we do our work is a reflection of our attitude, spiritual disposition and relationship with Jesus.
READ Ephesians 6:6-8
WHAT NEGATIVE MOTIVATION FOR WORKING DILIGENTLY DID PAUL ADDRESS? WHAT POSITIVE MOTIVATIONS SHOULD DRIVE US?
We are not to work to please men – yet that is what many do. There are two commands for us here – the negative = work with integrity all the time (definition of integrity is who you are when nobody else is looking). The positive is to work for God instead of earthly employers – can only be done when using an inward motivation. (Colossians 3:23)
Good attitude – how’s your attitude about your work? This cannot be forced or coerced in any way by anyone. Do you have an attitude of eagerness or zealousness for God?
Reward – reaping what we sow (Galatians 6:7) – God rewards those who serve wholeheartedly (Luke 6:35 and Revelation 22:12). From the heart = center of your being or all that is within you (soul or psyche not kardia used in verse 5 which means the seat of the intellect, emotion or will) It is when we work for God and not a paycheck or a boss that we fully understand verse 8 – taking joy in our work regardless of what we do or where we are.
READ Ephesians 6:9
Same attitude must be for employers/supervisors. Same desire to please God. No favoritism. Do unto others… (Luke 6:31) We all have the same Master and Lord. We (as supervisors or bosses) need to show the same respect for those we oversee. Could replace the word “teacher” with “boss” in James 3:1.
READ James 3:1
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO GAIN BY FOLLOWING PAUL’S INSTRUCTIONS?
The Value of Work
What is it that gives our work value to God? Is it simply that when we work we earn money so that we can give a tithe to support the ministry of the Word? Is that alone what gives our work value? No. It is true that we are called to support the ministry of the Word; Scripture says so quite clearly. But that is not what ultimately gives our work value.
Is it that in our work-places we have the opportunity to be sort of mini-missionaries, to share the Gospel with the people we work alongside? Is that what gives our work value? NO. While we do pray that God will give opportunities to share His truth because people need to hear it, that is not what primarily gives our work our value.
Is it simply that we have to work to earn money to support ourselves so that we can get on with the “real work” of being active in our churches—that what we do in our workplaces is not very important, but what we really do that’s important is when we are a deacon in the church, when we teach Sunday school, or when we lead a Bible study? Is that what gives our work value? That is not true either.
What is it, then, that gives our work value? It is simply that God Himself declares it to be important, that God desires our service in the whole of our lives, and that we are to present everything to Him in order to serve Him. Paul says this so strongly in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men…” “Whatever you do,” Paul tells us that it is the Lord Christ you are serving. God has declared our work to have value. It doesn’t need some other means outside itself. God’s word gives it value.
Secondly, our work has value because we are to offer it to the Lord. Your work and my work is to be holy. That means we are to set it apart so that we may honor God in what we do.
Now that’s just as true for you if you are running a business as it is for me teaching right now. It is not the job itself that is holy; it is offering it to God as service. I may teach in a way that is totally unholy, and you may be a person engaged in business in a way that is completely holy. It is a question of whether you dedicated you work to God and whether you serve God righteously in what you do that makes your work holy.
Integrity in the Workplace
Regarding integrity, Scripture calls us to such a high standard in the workplace because we are working for the Lord. When I go to my place of work, my first thought should not be, “What does my boss think of me?”— though I should certainly desire to please my boss. My first thought should be that I am called to work, serving God with integrity. It is important that we please those for whom we work, but we are going to have much more important accounting to give one day. Christ Himself will ask us how we worked. Were you faithful? Did you work hard? Are you someone who just worked to please other people or did you work with genuine righteousness? That is the challenge to all of us in our work, and in every area of our lives.
Full Worship of God
We need to get God’s mind about matters in the workplace. Often times on Sunday people feel like everything they have done during the week really does not matter (Sexual atheists). The Bible says we are to worship God in everything, and what we do on Sunday morning when we come to praise Him with our lips is simply bringing the whole of our week to declare His praises together as His people. There should be a seamless robe, if you like, between our workweek and our Sunday service—all of it is the worship of God, and all of it is to be holy. We need to honor that conviction in the way we pray for people in our churches and in the way we commend people. We should praise God for people in business who are righteous in what they do and who serve God in their places of work, or praise God for lawyers who are for widows and orphans. May we really learn to offer our work to God and to honor those who do so.
That is the challenge of God’s word to us. As we consider that our work is to be done as unto the Lord, let us be shining lights of integrity, dedication, humility, service and love.
What action will you take now?
1. Change your focus – Make “working for Jesus” your #1 priority this week
2. Choose a godly attitude – no matter what your circumstance, you can choose to react in a godly manner to your work, boss or coworkers
3. Start over – seek forgiveness for poor attitudes or performance.
Finding joy in what we do – Who we work for