Bring Jesus to Work
What was your very first paying job? There were probably some things about that job you liked and some things you hated; but chances are that you remember that job well and in fact, you may have learned some valuable life lessons from that experience.
In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul offers some valuable life lessons for honoring Christ in the workplace. After spending the first two chapters of his letter to the believers at Colossae defining who Christ is and what He has done for us, in chapter 3, Paul begins to teach about our response - how we act, how we treat others, how we relate to one another.
In Colossians 3:22-4:1, Paul addresses the slave/master relationship because 50% of the Greek and Roman populations of that time were slaves and many of them were new believers. The Bible never endorses slavery, but addresses it to make sure all people are treated fairly and with respect. In our time, this text clearly applies to the workplace. From it we are given four practices for honoring Christ in the workplace.
1. Respectfully obey those who have authority over you. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; Colossians 3:22a
Obedience is a vital Biblical principle. In previous verses, Paul had taught about the importance of children obeying their parents. As His children, all of us are obedient to our Heavenly Father. Just as children are to obey parents (and God), employees are to obey employers.
Obedience always involves some level of submission. That doesn’t mean that your boss is smarter than you, or that you’re inferior to your boss, but that you willingly submit to your employer’s leadership out of respect for their position and to honor God. God doesn’t give an employer the right to treat you harshly, poorly or abusively. But ultimately, as employees, we are submissive and accountable to our employer in everything, unless it is illegal or sinful.
We respectfully obey to make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ… All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 1 Timothy 6:1
2) Work hard and do a good job, not to earn man’s favor, but to honor God. 22 …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. Colossians 3:22b
What is your motivation to work hard or do a good job? Generally, people want to perform well hoping that a boss will take notice and give them a promotion or a raise. Having ambition is great; but Paul tells us that we should be motivated not simply to get a promotion or a raise, but because we sincerely revere the Lord. In other words, as believers, we are motivated to work hard because we want to honor God.
Do you know what happens when we are obedient to our employers and do a good job? We are powerful witnesses for Christ! 10 … so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. Titus 2:10b. Have you ever considered that the way you go about your job can make the gospel attractive to those who may not yet believe? It absolutely can and will!
3) Know Who you’re working for. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Colossians 3:23
This verse is can be a real motivator! Some days, you may show up for work and would rather be anywhere else. Maybe you’re dealing with a lot of pressure, a stressful project, catty co-workers, an overbearing or unrealistic boss. So on those days, what is your motivation? What is your attitude?
In seasons like that, you must remember “Who” you’re working for… not human masters, but the Lord. Are you working with all your heart? Are you giving your very best every day?
I know what some of you may be thinking… What’s the payoff for my hard work? That’s a fair question. Maybe you’re hoping for a raise next year or a nice bonus; wouldn’t that be awesome!? Maybe you get those financial rewards, but maybe you don’t. There is one payoff you can be absolutely sure of…. 24 …you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:24
This is a promise from God. As a believer, you can be assured that, even if you don’t get what you believe is fair compensation in this world, you will absolutely get fair and just eternal compensation. Ultimately, you can be assured that God takes notice when you are working with all your heart, as working for Him! Do you know Who you’re really working for? If you’re a Christ-follower, you’re not just working for the man to make another dollar; you’re working for the Lord for eternal rewards.
Paul finishes this section with some vital instruction for employers too!
4) Treat your employees fairly. 1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Colossians 4:1
If you have people who work for you or employees you supervise and have influence over their compensation, God expects you to be fair with them. Sometimes employers can get so concerned about the bottom line or showing a profit or even lining their pockets, that they forget about the ones who are working hard to keep the business up and running. Simply put, make sure you do what you can to treat your employees fairly because, ultimately that honors God.
For much more, click here to listen to Steadfast Part 9 - Honoring Christ in the Workplace.