Faith & Work – Work: An Uneasy Alliance – It’s All About Your Attitude – 5 of 8
Let’s talk about some critical perspectives from the Book of Colossians which apply to our work life. You may be a stay at home mom or dad, a student, or the president of a company. Slavery was an integral part of the Roman economy, and nearly half of the population were slaves. So, in his letter, Paul addressed not only husband, wife and children, but also masters and slaves as well. As important as family relationships were, Paul gave more attention to the master-slave relationship. Paul’s principles governing masters and slaves apply equally well to employers and employees (Colossians 3:22–4:1).
The first command is found in v. 22: “…in all things obey those who are your masters on earth.” We can contemporize this for today’s work place as: “Do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it.” Now all of us have aspects of our job descriptions that we don’t like, but when we accepted the job, we accepted the responsibilities that come with it. There is no loophole such as, “…only if you want to” or “if it fulfills you and makes you happy.” God just says. “Do it. Obey!” But He says that mere outward compliance will not do. That little phrase, “not with external service” literally “not with eye- service.” God is saying, “Don’t just step up your game at work when the boss is watching.” Someone more important than our boss is watching us; God sees our actions and our attitudes.
So Paul zeros in on a couple of attitudes that should accompany our work. We should carry out our work with sincerity, with “singleness of heart.” We should carry out our work with reverential fear (“fearing the Lord”). Many of us have the erroneous idea that fearing God has no place in the Christian life (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 10:27; Isaiah 11:2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 2:17). Fear of God motivates us to excellence knowing that each one of us will stand before God and our life’s work will be evaluated (v. 24-25). Entrance into heaven is not the issue; reward in heaven is. God’s judgment will be based upon man’s faithfulness and spirituality. He will treat all workers alike: employee and employer. We might be able to fool our earthly boss, but we cannot fool God.
Paul concludes with a word to employers. They too have a master in heaven. They too will be impartially judged (4:1). They must always manage with justice and fairness. They must pay a fair wage for the work being done, raises and promotions must be free from prejudice, employees must be treated with respect and dignity (cf: James 5:4). How we carry out our work is important to God. We should all work as though Jesus is our boss, knowing that to Him we will give our final accounting.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it.
- Put forth your best effort at work every day.
- Always manage with justice and fairness.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)