Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:22-24
Many of the first Christians may have been slaves, since perhaps half the population or more of the Roman Empire were under servitude by one historian’s estimate. “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” – Romans 6:16
One of the reasons that our work has dignity and value, even if we are slaves, is that we are coworkers with God. Christ cares not only about what job we have, but how we go about doing it. “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive. – Titus 2:9-10
WHO’S THE BOSS
Christ gives us work to do. Work is a gift from God. He has created us in His own image to be workers, giving us skills and abilities to accomplish His purposes. He has also sovereignly placed us in our occupation to do His work there. Even if our job is as lowly as a Roman slave’s, it still has value and dignify to Christ.
Christ is our Boss, but He uses human supervisors. According to Colossians 3, people in authority over us are actually human representatives of Christ. They may not act very Christ-like. But in working for them, we are ultimately working for Christ.
- Do we follow their instructions?
- Do we shirk our job when they’re not around?
- Are we more interested in impressing them to gain approval and advancement than in getting the job done?
- How would our work ethic change if we saw Christ as our supervisor?
Christ asks us to put our hearts into our work. If we serve Christ in our job, we have more reason than anyone else to work with integrity and enthusiasm. The job itself may be unchallenging or unpleasant. But Christ asks us to do it with dignity, to the best of our ability, as though working for Christ Himself.
WORKERS FOR THE KINGDOM
Do we ever wonder what our life contributes to the work of God in the world? If we are in a “secular” occupation, we may conclude that the only way to further the kingdom is to pray for and contribute financially to those who are in “full-time” Christian work. But are those our only options?
Paul described Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus as “fellow workers for the kingdom”, indicating that they may have been vocational Christian workers. Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jewsamong my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. – Colossians 4:11. However, there is no way to say whether they were employed in that work as a full-time occupation. In fact, if they followed Paul’s example, they probably had other jobs through which they made their living.
The point is that drawing a paycheck for doing “ministry” is not the criterion by which to judge whether someone is a worker for God’s kingdom. Kingdom work involves promoting the values, beliefs and lifestyle of the Kingdom. That may involve professional employment such as pastoring a church or serving on a mission field. But kingdom workers are also found among doctors, accountants, engineers, painters, salespeople, auto mechanics, and homemakers. Wherever believers are furthering the goals and objectives of Christ, they are working for His kingdom.
How does our lives promote the purpose of God? Do we use our skills and abilities toward that end, whether or not pay is involved? Or have we given up and concluded that because we aren’t really serving the Lord with our life and career? If so, let us consider what it means to be a worker for Christ’s kingdom!
GUIDELINES FOR MANAGERS AND OTHERS IN AUTHORITY
- Workers deserve payment for their work. (1 Corinthians 9:7-14)
- We are accountable for fair employee compensation. (Colossians 4:1)
- Handle wealth very delicately. (1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-18)
- Bring our walk with Christ into each business relationship (2 Corinthians 7:1)
- Value people highly. (Galatians 5:14-15)
- Fulfill your commitments. (Romans 13:6-8)
- Remember God’s Son gets the ultimate credit. (Colossians 1:17-18)
- Discern needs and meet them. (Titus 3:14).
GUIDELINES FOR WORKERS AND THOSE UNDER AUTHORITY
- Live frugally and do not steal – including pilfering. (Ephesians 4:28)
- Care for your family (1 Timothy 5:8)
- Develop a respect for authority. (Romans 13:1-8)
- Do our work wholeheartedly and respectfully. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
- Acknowledge differences and accept the contributions of others. (1 Corinthians 12:1-8)
- Learn to speak appropriately and sensitively. (Colossians 4:6)
- Understand others and treat them respectfully. (1 Timothy 5:1-3)
Is it really possible to hold a “secular” job and still please God with our life? Or would it be better to quit one’s job and go into the ministry?
Source: The Word in Life Study Bible
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