Winning At Work: Colossians Series #10
Life doesn’t really work until Christ comes into our life. But when Jesus comes into our life, then we have the essential ingredient to make every area of our life work the way it ought to work. We are looking at this portion of Colossians which shows us how the Christian faith relates to every area of our life.
In this chapter, we are carefully studying how the Christian faith relates to your job and how your job is to work in relation to the Christian faith.
What are you going to do tomorrow? If you are in the workforce, you will likely begin your day early in the morning. If you are a student, you will be getting up early and heading off to school. Maybe you are in the business world and will head to the airport. Maybe you are in the sales arena. Or maybe you will be going to an office and working with computers or working with transportation or communication. What are you going to do tomorrow?
What does the Christian faith have to do with the work world? How will being a Christian affect what you do tomorrow? Will it make any difference to you? Some people have made a false dichotomy between the secular and the sacred. Some people have compartmentalized their lives. They live one life when they come to church. Then they have their other life which is their job and their social life and activities and they never really see any relationship between these two. Of course, when you study the Bible and you understand the Christian faith you will find out there is no such thing as compartmentalizing your life.
Being a Christian is not something that just happens on the weekend. The Christian faith is not like putting on a coat. Most people in our world have the idea that when Sunday comes, they put on their religious coat and they go through religious activities. Then, when Monday comes, they take off that coat of religion and go about their daily activities. But becoming a Christian means that Jesus Christ has something to say about everything you do. It affects your school life. It affects your business life. It affects your home life. It affects your social life. The Christian faith is intended to be lived out in working clothes. When you put on that nurse’s uniform in the morning it will be as a believer getting ready to serve the Lord in that occupation. When you put on your clothes to go to school tomorrow it will be as a Christian young person. You are getting ready to serve the Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow.
I am going to teach some practical and down-to-earth things. I know for some people when you talk about work, they have a fainting spell. They don’t like to talk about work. There are others who are very serious about their work, and they are serious about your Christian faith.
In Colossians 3:22, we read the word, “slaves.” It has been estimated that as many as half of the population of the Roman Empire were people who were slaves. This letter was read for the first time to the church at Colossae. In that church, there were some people who were slaves. They were sitting there as this letter was read for the very first time. Many of them were slaves who served in menial places, but many of the skilled people of those days were also slaves. Many physicians and teachers were slaves. Slavery was a terrible institution.
Some people ask why in the world didn’t the apostle Paul lead a campaign against slavery. There are some who have attacked the Christian faith and the New Testament on these grounds. It does not directly make a frontal assault on the institution of slavery. They say if Paul had been what he should have been, why didn’t he just lead a revolt?
There had been a number of revolts against slavery at that time. One of the most familiar is Spartacus. The story of the slave Spartacus who led a revolution against slavery in the Roman Empire. Yet, this rebellion was crushed by the iron hand of Rome.
Why didn’t Paul do something about slavery? Paul’s first responsibility was to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had been commissioned by the Lord to preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to get people saved so that they might have forgiveness of sins and might have a meaningful life and a hope beyond death out in eternity.
The Gospel that Apostle Paul preached had within itself the ingredients that ultimately led to the overthrow of slavery in the Roman Empire. It was kind of like taking a tree and stripping all the bark off of it. After you strip the bark of the tree, the tree dies right there. That’s exactly what the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ did to slavery. The Gospel teaches the importance of every person. It teaches that when you come to Christ it makes a new person out of you and it also changes your attitude toward other people.
We read in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There in this church in Colosse were sitting slaves. There were masters. It’s altogether possible that there was a slave who was standing before a Bible class teaching about the typology of the Old Testament fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. It could be possible that his master, the man who actually owned him was sitting right there in front of him as a new convert. Jesus Christ changes all these relationships of life!
We have a whole book in the Bible, named Philemon, that gives this whole slave/master relationship and shows us what Jesus does when He changes people. It’s a beautiful story about a runaway slave named Onesimus and his master, Philemon. Onesimus ran away from his master. He wound up in jail in Rome with the wonderful providence, grace, and sovereignty of God.
Onesimus ended up in the same jail as the Apostle Paul. Paul was a chain preacher. He just preached to folks in chains all the time. He led Onesimus to faith in the Lord. Onesimus finished out his jail term and Paul sent this new convert, this converted slave, back to his master Philemon. However, Paul says to Philemon, “For perhaps he (Onesimus) therefore departed for a season that you should receive him forever. Not now as a slave but above a slave, a brother beloved.” Do you see the difference Jesus makes? Paul was saying he may be a slave in earthly terms but now as a believer, he is your brother in the Lord Jesus Christ. Aren’t you thankful for a Gospel that gives the death blow to the institutions that are wrong and godless in this world?
Paul teaches us how Christians can impact their tomorrows in the marketplace of life.
I. We Need To Apply The Essentials Of Christian Servants
Workers will go to work for a company tomorrow. These verses show that as a Christian you ought to be the most dependable, the most diligent, the most reliable worker that will show up at your place of work tomorrow. Let me just give you some principles from these verses that you can apply to your job that will help you to be a better worker and help you to have a better testimony on your job.
Personal: Follow The Instructions of Your Supervisor.
In Colossians 3:22, we read, “Obey in all things your masters (supervisors) according to the flesh. The word, “obey,” means to hear under. It means you accept and recognize the fact that there is somebody in charge. He’s talking about a good work ethic. We’ve just about lost the work ethic in America. This is saying that you should follow the instructions of those who have hired you to work for them. Sometimes you are told to do unpleasant things. Sometimes you are told to do things that are irksome to you. Things you don’t necessarily want to do.
But as a Christian, you have a responsibility to accept the authority and the supervision of those who are over you. That means if you are supposed to be at work at 8:00 it doesn’t mean 8:15. It means you are to be there at 8:00. It means if you are to work until 4:00, it doesn’t mean 3:30. It means you are to give an honest day’s labor for an honest day’s pay. The principle of following the instructions and the guidelines of those who have given you your job.
It really doesn’t matter what you do as long as it is a job that is not inconsistent with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you find yourself in a job that is contradictory to the Bible, then begin to pray for the Lord to provide new employment for you. Pray that God will make it possible for you to get away from that job that may be inconsistent with the Christian faith. Whatever job you are in, you obey those who are in charge. If they ask you to do something that’s morally wrong you shouldn’t do that. If they ask you to do something that is unethical you ought not do that either. If you should be asked to do something that is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then you have to take your stand. But in normal circumstances, principal number 1 is to follow the instructions of your supervisor.
Priority: Do Your Work Out Of Reverence For The Lord
Again, in Colossians 3:22, we read, “Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.” The words, “fearing God,” means reverencing God. Have you ever thought about the fact that the way you do your work is an expression of your attitude toward the Lord? It is an expression of your reverence to the Lord. He is saying you don’t do your work as a men pleaser. Don’t do it with “eye service.” That means working only when the boss’s eyes are on you.
If you are a Christian, the boss ought not to have his eyes on you because you have another boss whose eyes are on you all the time. The eyes of the Lord are on you all the time. The Bible says that the eyes of the Lord run to and from on the earth to show himself strong on behalf of those who put their trust in him.
I heard about a fellow who had one of these pictures of Jesus where the artist has drawn the eyes in such a way that wherever you are in the room, those eyes follow you. A man had a picture like that and he had a friend who had come to visit him. He watched those eyes of Jesus following him all over the room. He said, “I don’t like the eyes of Jesus following me all over the room. That makes me kind of uncomfortable, doesn’t it to you?
The man said, “No, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. It just means that He loves me so much He can’t take His eyes off of me.” He sees you in the morning. He knows what you are going through. He knows everything. The eyes of the Lord are going to be right there on you. You are doing a good job and you are going to work hard tomorrow because you are doing it out of reverence to the Lord.
Passion: Do Your Job With All Your Heart
In Colossians 3:23, we read, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Paul is saying when you go to work, do it with soul. Be a soul worker. Put your heart into it. Put your very soul in your work and do it for Jesus’ sake.
That means that you study with all of your heart because you are doing it as unto the Lord. You may not be capable of making A’s, but if you can make A’s, you ought to make A’s for Jesus’ sake and be a good testimony in your grades. If you can make B’s, make B’s for Jesus’ sake. You may be selling donuts tomorrow. However, sell donuts for Jesus’ sake. Do it for his glory. If you are working on the computer tomorrow, every key you touch say, “Dear Jesus, I’m doing this for you today. I’m putting my whole heart in this because I love you and I want to be a good testimony for you.”
I really believe that this world is so desperate to find people who are honest and sincere that if Christians will work heartily at whatever they are doing unto the Lord, your chances of advancement in your job are probably better than ever before in our society.
Perspective: You Will Be Rewarded In The Future
In Colossians 3:24, we read, “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance.” In verse 25, he gives the negative. “If you do wrong you receive for the wrong you hath done.” I think this verse points us to the judgment seat of Christ.
The fact that the Bible teaches rewards for faithful service. Most of the time when we talk about the judgment seat of Christ and service, we have an idea it’s something we do at church. Yet, in this context, the clear indication of these verses is this. Whatever you do on your job on a daily basis, if you are doing it for Jesus, you will be rewarded for it at the judgment seat of Christ. This perspective will change your whole outlook on your job.
II. We Need To Acknowledge The Elements Of Christian Supervisors
You may be a supervisor at your workplace with people serving under you.
In Colossians 4:1, we have the word, “masters.” The word, “supervisors” is better in this context. If you are the president of a company, you are the supervisor of a job, you have people who work under you and for you, and there are some principles God has given for you as a Christian.
Inquire: Take A Personal Interest In Those Who Work For You
This principle is indicated in verse one by these words, “Masters give unto your servants.” If you are going to give unto them, that means you have to be interested unto them. Take a personal interest in them. These people who work for you are human beings. They have families. They have children. They have heartaches. They have burdens. They have concerns. They have needs. These are human beings made in the image of God. You need to be interested in their welfare. You may have a lot of people and can’t keep up with every one of them. But there are ways you can work it out and have certain systems set in place that will help you know things about them and give some personal attention if that is needed. Take a personal interest in those who work for you.
Invest: Do What Is Right Toward Your Workers
Are you treating them right? Are you paying them what they ought to be paid for the job they’re doing? I learned a long time ago, that if I invest at the level of leadership needed, then people will know I respect them, and they will rise to a higher level.
Incentive: Do What Is Just And Equal
The word, “equal,” means fair. Are you fair with your workers? There are times when you might have a policy and in the interest of fairness it has to be bent just a little bit. They need to be treated in a fair manner. It will do wonders toward you winning those who may not know the Lord, who are under your supervision, if you are just fair with them. Just treat them with honesty and with fairness.
Inspection: You Also Have A Supervisor
If you are a supervisor, remember that you have a supervisor too. Read carefully what Paul writes in Colossians 4:1: “Knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Somebody is in charge of you too. You cannot have those under your authority unless you are under authority yourself. You can’t exercise authority unless you are under authority.
Here is the bottom line of everything I am teaching in this chapter. In Colossians 3:25, we read, “and there is no respect of persons.” That means that God shows no partiality. Nobody is any better than anybody else to the Lord. In James 2:1, we read, “Beloved, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” In the eyes of the Lord, there are no big shots and no little shots, there are just people.
Yet, you may say, “I’m the CEO of a major company and thousands of people work for me.” That’s no big deal to God. He runs this whole universe.
“But, preacher, you don’t understand. I have stocks. I have a summer house here and a winter house there and another house over there. I have money.” That doesn’t make any difference. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. It’s peanuts to the God of this universe. There is no respect of persons.
You may know Romans 3:23. It says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Yet, we need to read that verse in its context. It says, “for,” which means it points back to what has just been said. Look at the last sentence in verse 22. “For there is no difference. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That is saying that we are just all sinners. It doesn’t matter if you are a worker or a supervisor. It doesn’t matter if you are a common laborer or if you are the president of a company. The Bible says there is no difference. All have sinned. Everybody is a sinner. Rich sinners go to hell just as quick as poor sinners go to hell. Presidents of banks without Jesus Christ go to hell just as quickly as the janitor of the bank goes to hell without the Lord Jesus. There is no difference.
Let me go a step further, In Romans 10:13, we read, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But you have to read that in context. You can’t leave out verse 12. It says, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek. For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There is no difference. Whosoever will call can be saved. The good news about that is that if you are a worker, working for someone else, the Bible says if you will call on the name of the Lord you’ll be saved. You may be a person who has several hundred people who work under you. The good news is that if you ask Jesus to forgive you and save you, He’ll save you. There is no difference. Jesus is the Savior for all who will call upon Him.