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Your Work Matters

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(6/14) Yella Wood CommercialĖ The Sun Comes Up and the Sun Goes Down Work Away, Work Away. Well haul that lumber, lift that thing, sing a little song and do it all again, The Sun comes up and the Sun goes down, Work away, Work away.

Well, we are approaching the end of our study of the book of Ephesians. There are about 3 weeks left after today. I sincerely hope that you have grown in your understanding of this awesome little letter. The 1st half of the book reminds us that God is worthy of our worship and we should worship because our salvation and relationship with God is entirely of His initiative and action. We did not nothing to be forgiven and adopted into His family with a guaranteed inheritance but repent and believe in Jesus. We were entirely deserving of His wrath, but instead we received grace. 2:4-5 are among the absolute greatest verses in the Bible. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ö Thatís what the first 3 chapters all about.

The last 3 chapters are all about the effects of our relationship with God. How does one who has been given forgiveness, grace, and new life, live out that new life? How does a former zombie, live the resurrected life? How does he take off the Zombie clothes and put on the clothing of righteousness? He or she imitates their Father and their Savior. He or she looks to the Bible, and relies on the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God to know how to live and the power to live it. I have said many times, that being born again, means, that regardless of your age, you have to learn to live life all over again from a different perspective. Chapter 2:1-3, reminds us of the perspective we lived from before we knew Jesus. The world, the flesh, and the devil were who we modeled our life after. But Children of God, adopted into His family by faith in Jesus model their lives after Him.

Passages like Hebrews 5:8; Phil. 2:8; and 1 Peter 2:21-23, remind us that our Lord Jesus, although He was God the Son, willfully humbled Himself, and became obedient to the Father, even though that meant intense suffering, He submitted to the Father so He could provide our salvation.

Submission is not a favorite word. It is not nearly as dear to us as grace, love, peace, or forgiveness, yet, it is the standard for our lives this side of heaven. Paul says that a mark of being filled by the Holy Spirit, or living by the word of Christ is submit to one another. We are to be a submissive people. To be submissive is to willingly, humbly place oneís self under in rank to others. Peter says we are to submit to every divinely ordained institution of God designed for manís good. That is a literal translation of 1 Peter 2:13. Family and Marriage is one of the first institutions of God for manís good. So, Paul addresses it in chapter 5. A born again, Spirit controlled (filled) wife is to submit herself under her husbandís leadership and love, willingly, just as she does or should to our Lord Jesus. A born again and Spirit filled husband is make his wife his priority, just as Jesus does the church, and love her, and lead her, and learn about her in humble and sacrificial love. He submits to Jesus by serving His wife. Children are to submit to their parents and Parents are to raise their children intentionally to shape their character not by being their childís friends but by teaching them about Jesus, modeling Him in the home. The government and the church are two other institutions that both Paul and Peter deal with elsewhere that we are to submit ourselves to.

But 6:5-8 brings us to the work place. I donít know what percentage of our lives we devote to work, but it is a lot. Perhaps half of our lives, some more, and some less. Your work matters. It is perhaps, next to your home, the place of your greatest influence.

Work was part of the purpose for man, even before sin entered the world. Man was made to tend and keep the garden of God (Gen. 2:15); they were to subdue the earth and have dominion over it (Gen. 1:26-28). But work which probably was pleasurable before sin became a pain after sin, as man would have to work a lot harder to make a living. The ground that man was to tend and keep would offer resistance with weeds, thorns, and thistles. Even as we have moved from a primary agricultural people to being an industrial people, many of us take jobs that we hate. We go to work because we have to in order to make a living. It is my opinion that few people look forward to going to work every day. We look forward to quitting time, weekends, vacations, holidays, etc., but not to getting up and going to work. Yet, short of the silver spoon, an inheritance, or winning the lottery, it is our lot in life. Before the welfare system, if we didnít work we didnít eat, but we wonít go there this morning. We were created to work.

Martin Luther and John Calvin and others taught that all work is beneficial to society and should be done to the glory of God. There are no menial jobs. This was called the Protestant Work ethic and from the reformation until the end of the 20th century, this was the attitude of many western countries including our own. Sadly, too many, today, have never been taught that, and instead feel a sense of entitlement to things they havenít earned. But that also is a sermon for another day. Greed by both employers and employees is also a huge problem in the work place today.

Our text is speaking about slaves and masters. When Paul wrote this slavery was a huge part of the Roman empire. Many slaves were people who were from countries conquered by Rome. A large percent of the Romans did not work. Slaves may have been the Doctors, and teachers. Slaves and Masters were coming to faith in Christ and that presented a dilemma. If both slave and master embraced Jesus, that meant spiritually they were equal, just as a husband and wife are equal, but socially and economically they had their places. And as this was a new life and a new way of living that new life, Paul and Peter addresses how to put Christ in whatever their role is.

Now, perhaps we should pause and remind ourselves that no-where does God endorse slavery, but neither does Jesus or Paul ever say or speak to abolish slavery. Changing society is not the main message of the gospel; changing hearts is. Changed hearts will change society.

Some slavery was to pay a debt. Some slavery was a contractual agreement of employment for a time as Jacob was with Laban. In the Old Testament, slaves employed by Jews were to be released every seven years and every 50th year or Year of Jubilee. Many Slaves and Masters had a parent-child kind of relationship where slaves were treated and cared for as family members. In fact, Exodus 21:5-6 says that if you like working for your master and wished to remain with him you could have your ear pierced with an awl and he or she can remain in his service forever. You will remember that a Centurion came to Jesus whose servant was dear to him but was sick and ready to die (Luke 7:2). But, it is also true that many in Pagan countries were treated as cattle and could be killed on a whim by an owner without any penalty.

So, Paul addresses how both servants and masters, are to live out their new lives in Christ. Now we obviously donít have that system any longer in America, though it is very much in practice in a lot of places. Yet, though we are free, to be hired by an employer obligates us to dedicate a large percent of our time to doing the will of that employer. And, employers have a responsibility towards those who have agreed to work for him or her that match the slave, master roles of the Bible. Here are a few principles from our text.

I. Understand that your Work is your place of influence. There is where

you will be with people who donít know Jesus and wonít know how to handle lifeís tragedies and trials; people who have no hope or peace. Remember our Lordís words in Matthew 28:19, Go is literally, as you are goingÖmake disciples. At lunch or before or after work, you can share the hope and peace that you have in Jesus. This is especially true if they observe your work ethic, and your desire to honor your wife, husband, and God when others joke, or bash, or trash talk to be noticed. And even, if people avoid you for your faith, they will in times of crisis, seek your prayers, and advice.

II. The point of Ephesians 6:5-8 is that your work is your place to Glorify

or Honor God. Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

Listen as Paul says a similar thing to his young protťgť Titus, 9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. Pilfering is taking things that donít belong to you, like extra-long breaks, or lunches or things that belong to the business. Fidelity is your trustworthiness that you put on as a shirt that shows your obedience to Jesus.

A. Obedience or Submission is Demanded. (V. 5) This is submission.

Unless you are told to do something contrary to the moral holiness of God you are to do what you are told to do. The word Bondservant is doulos in Greek and means a slave in bondage. Paul uses that word to describe our Lord Jesus in Philippians 2, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. Jesus came in willful but total submission to the Father as one in bondage. Paul also says that is what we were to sin. Look back at Romans 6: 17ff. But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. The point is that as you chose to obey your sin nature, now chose to willfully obey righteousness as one who is in bondage to Holiness. I remember one of my professors saying years ago, that, true freedom is the ability to choose who you will serve. Paul describes Himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1 and others). And in verse 6 encourages us to do obey our employers as a slave of Jesus. Our obedience to our employers is obedience to Jesus. Likewise, to disobey our employer is to disobey Jesus. Do you understand this? Why? Because your work is your place of influence. You are not just an employee you are a Servant of Jesus Christ. But, what if my employer is not fair or nice? Listen to Peter, "Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps." (1 Peter 2:18-21)

B. A Good Attitude is Expected (5b). "with fear and trembling."

The fear and trembling is not to be afraid of your boss; it is, however, to be in reverence to God. The point is that just as a wife is to be respectful of her husband as she is to Christ, and just as children are to obey their parents as to Christ, your respect for your boss is directly related to your respect for God. Your attitude is that you will do the best you can because you want Jesus to be pleased and honored by your work. Do you understand this? Remember our comments on 1 Peter 2:13? We are to be respectful and submissive in the institutions ordained by God. Our respect and submission to them is directly related to our respect and submission to our Lord.

C. A Right Commitment is Expected (5c-7)

"in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men," Remember Titus 2:9? We are to adorn the doctrine of Christ. Not in a hypocritical manner, that is just being productive when the boss is around, but being the employee that the boss knows he can leave alone on the job and the job will be done and done right. We all have heard people say, "Look busy, the boss is coming." This we know, Jesus not Santa Claus sees you when you are sleeping and knows when you are awake, he knows if you have been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. Every job should be done for His approval. 1 Thess. 4:11, says, " that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing."

D. A Better Reward is Expected (v. 8)

"8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free." What good does doing good do? Someone has coined, "No good deed goes unpunished." But the certainty of scripture is that our God is keeping tabs on all that you do. I hope that it goes without saying that this has nothing to do with entrance to heaven. That is based on faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and nothing else. But when we stand before Him as we all will at the Judgement or Bema Seat of Christ, He will reward us for our faithful execution of our submission to the institutions He has ordained, and the attitude, and respect we have given as we do the best we can to honor Him. He will say to some, "Well Done, you have been a good servant."

When we went through Menís Fraternity, we learned that part of what it means to be a real man is to expect Godís reward though it is delayed. Not always but often such work is rewarded by God here in the form of promotions, raises, bonuses, job offers, etc.

III. Employers are obligated to treat their employees well (v.9),

"And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him." In a similar letter to the Colossians, Paul said it like this, "Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

"Masters, do the same things to them." That sums it up, doesn't it? The very same things to them. What does that mean? Serve them with honor and respect. Serve them sincerely. Serve them as if you were serving Jesus Christ. Serve them without hypocrisy. Do for them what is good and beneficial as if to the Lord and not to men. And treat your employees in such a way that will bring an eternal reward. Wow. Serve your employees as an act of worship to God. Serve your employees as a service to Jesus Christ. Don't use them to get rich. Treat your servants, your employees with respect as you would Jesus Christ who Himself was a servant.

And the greatest masters are those who serve. Isn't that what it says in Matthew chapter 20? "Whoever would be chief among you, let him be your...what...your servant." Treat them with the right attitude, verse 9, give up threatening. Don't yell at your employees, don't intimidate them. Don't verbally abuse them. Don't threaten them. A Spirit-controlled, Spirit-filled employer is gentle, never abusive, never threatening. Threats have no value. Use encouragement. Use reward. Use those things that stimulate the Christian's noble intent. Be just, or do what is right, and fair. (Colossians 4:1)

Why do that? Why all of this? Again the same motivation, end of verse 9, "Knowing that both their master and yours...so here we know these are Christians in this relationship...that both their master and yours is in heaven." What does that mean? He's watching and He's the final authority. You are serving for divine evaluation and God is not impressed with your accomplishments. He's not particularly impressed with your power. He's impressed with your submission to the needs of your employees. And there is no partiality with Him. All earthly distinctions are leveled in the presence of the Lord. All He's interested in is how you treat each other. Do you as an employer seek their best? Do you set aside any intimidation, threatening? Do you recognize that by serving them you're serving Christ, as if they were Christ? Everybody is going to give an account. And you may be a leader in a company, you may be an employer, you may be the boss, and you may think that's a secular environment. It's not. It's your spiritual service. Live in such a way that you adorn the teaching about God as a saving God. Show the evidence of God having transformed your life in the way you treat your employees.

Pretty practical stuff, isn't it? So go to work tomorrow, whatever you do, with this in mind and heart. Let's pray.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman