In this week’s study we will examine the proper relationship that the Christian ought to have with his employer. • Alternate reading Colossians 3:22-25.
In this passage we do not find the terms employee or employer but rather servant and master. Although the servant/master relationship is in some respects very different from the employee/employer relationship that we are familiar with, there are enough similarities to make the principles found in scripture both valid and applicable to our modern work relationships. For the purposes of this study we will look at three Biblical principles that we ought to apply to our work relationships.
The Principle of Sovereignty
• Col 3:22. Q. We are told here to obey our employers in all things. According to the last two words of the verse, in what attitude are we to operate?
• Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as ____________________
• Col 3:24. Q. According to this verse, whom do we serve?
In order to have a proper attitude toward our employment we must first realize that in all things that we do, we are servants of Jesus Christ. Whether we are employed in jobs which this world considers menial, or in jobs which this world admires, all things are to be done as if we are working for Jesus Christ himself. This is a universal principle that applies to all the relationships that we will study throughout this series.
• Col 3:24. Q. Who will we receive our reward from? _________________.
Many employees fight and vie for promotion and recognition, but this is not the way that a Christian employee should behave. We serve Jesus Christ as our master, knowing that it is from Jesus Christ that we will receive our ultimate reward.
• Psalm 75:6,7. Q. Where does our success and promotion come from?
• Ephesians 6:7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, ___________
Jesus Christ is sovereign over all. All authority that is over us, is actually under Him! For this reason we respect and submit to earthly authorities knowing that ultimately He is our judge and our rewarder.
As Christians, it is tempting sometimes to divide life into the secular and the sacred. The fact is, if we apply the principle of God’s sovereignty to our work life then every place of employment becomes a place to serve God.
One of the ways that God has chosen for us to serve Him is by serving our earthly employers in such a way that He gets the most glory:
• 1 Timothy 6:1. Q. What is the result of an employee that dishonours his employer?
A man or woman who professes to be a Christian represents the name and doctrine of God. His attitude, actions and reactions will all be used to form an opinion of who God is in the minds of his employer and fellow employees. Bearing the name of Christ brings with it the tremendous responsibility of also bearing his character qualities (Gal 5:22-25). Where there is inconsistency between these things, the name of God and his doctrine can be blasphemed.
• Titus 2:9,10. Paul told Titus that as the result of a servants Godly behaviour he will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. The idea here is that the Godly character and work ethic of the Christian employee will be so different from others that it will hang on him like the adorning of clothing.
Next of all, let’s consider The Principle of Steadfastness.
Steadfastness can be used to describe the Christian work ethic. Someone who is steadfast is faithful and determined. The Bible is very clear about God’s desire for Christians to be steadfast and determined in their work life.
• 2 Thess 3:10-12. Q. Who should work? What if they do not?
• 1 Tim 5:8. Q. What has the man who does not provide for his own house done? Who is he worse than?
_ Why do you think a Christian who does not provide for his home would be worse than an unbeliever?
Now look up Colossians 3:22,23 where we see a description of the Christian work ethic.
• Col 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with ______________________, as _______________________; but in __________________________ of ___________________, fearing God:
23 And whatsoever ye do, do it _____________________________, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Not with Eyeservice.
The idea here is that the employee should work diligently all the time and not simply when “the boss is watching”. The Christian has a Heavenly Father who is always watching and desires His children to work as to please him, and not as menpleasers.
In singleness of heart.
This means to work with sincerity. The Christian employee sincerely seeks to complete the work that he has been given to do. He is not duplicitous, that is, he is not two-faced or hypocritical. Ephesians 6:7 tells us to work with good will.
Do it heartily.
To work heartily means to give your all. We do not work half-heartedly, looking to cut corners or “just get by”. An employee who works heartily will be ambitious, energetic and thorough in completing the work that he has been given to do. Titus 2:10 tells us to serve with all good fidelity or faithfulness.
• Titus 2:9,10. Here God tells us that we are not to purloin. This is a word that we don’t use much anymore, it means to embezzle. Employees often help themselves to goods or supplies found at work, this is exactly what God is telling the Christian employee to avoid.
There is a clear, Biblical work ethic. God desires that all able-bodied men work. He also desires that the work which the Christian performs be exemplary, sincere and thorough.
_ How would a poor work ethic affect the Christian’s ability to witness to others in the workplace?
Lastly, let’s look at the Principle of Submission
The principle of submission goes beyond “doing what you are told”. God also requires us to display a submissive attitude.
Eph 6:5. Q. According to this verse we are to obey our employers with F__________ and T_____________________.
Like we learned in our lesson on The Christian and the Government, we are responsible to respect and submit to those authorities that God has set over us. In the workplace, this submission is shown by a respectful and reverential spirit.
• Titus 2:9. Q. According to this verse, what are we not to do again?
We are in a society where unions wield great power in the workplace. Oftentimes these unions promote a spirit of rebellion. They begrudgingly fulfill their obligations and hold a spirit of disdain for their employers. The Christian employee, whether a member of a union or not, is not to behave this way. The Bible says that we are obey our employer with a willing spirit and while not talking back. Half-hearted obedience is no obedience at all.
What about Bad Bosses?
Doubtless there are many Christians who are working under employers who are disrespectful, dishonest and ungodly. How do we react under these circumstances?
• 1 Peter 2:18. Q. What two types of employers should we submit to?
• 1 Peter 2:19. Q. What is thankworthy?
Q. What has the Christian in this verse suffered wrongfully for?
Maintaining a Godly testimony in our workplace may result in ridicule or grief. Jesus said in Matthew 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. When we decide to apply these principles to our work life, it will be so obvious that we are different because of our faith, that we may face opposition. Suffering for Christ’s sake in this way is both honorable and expected (John 15:20). When this opposition comes, it provides us with yet another opportunity to display the character qualities of Christ!
Unlike our parents, or even our government, the authority of our employer is one that we can change. If a Christian finds himself in a circumstance where his employer behaves himself in a grossly immoral or abusive way, then he can seek employment elsewhere, while maintaining a right and Godly testimony. Like all major decisions, this one should be made after much prayer.
Our relationship with God dictates that how we behave in all of our other relationships. In the workplace he desires us to submit to authority with a sincere and obedient attitude. By our Godly attitude and our Biblical work ethic others will see a difference. This affords an opportunity for us to witness and for God to be glorified.