God's Plan for the Work Place
Introduction: The book of Ephesians reveals God's plans for those who would believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. It then reveals what is God's plan for the relationship that Christian would have to the Lord, their local church and with others. It is a practical Book giving instruction on how we are to conduct ourselves within our local congregation and outward into the world.
Ephesians 1:4-5 explains that God's plan is that believers would be forgiven of all their sins, put pure and holy in God's sight. In other words, believers would be imparted the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Further, God's plan is that believers become the children of God. (Eph. 1:5) That as the children of God, we would be to His praise and glory.
In Chapter 2 God explains that man is dead in his trespasses and sin, but those who believe are "quickened," meaning made alive in Jesus Christ. They are given everlasting life. This chapter explains salvation is the free gift of God by His grace that man is saved by faith alone without works or merit on his part. (Eph. 2:8-9)
God explains that the Gentiles, the uncircumcised were to be a part of the God's kingdom, no longer being strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens in God's household. (Eph. 2:19)
Chapter 3 continues to reveal God's plan that Gentiles would have the full blessings and offer of salvation and they would be equal to the Jews in the Gospel. (Eph. 3:2f) Paul calls this the dispensation of grace. (Verse 2) Jews and Gentiles equal and both part of the God's whole family in heaven.
Chapter 4:1-6:9 shows God's plan for the relationship that believers are to have with the Lord, their marriage partners, their children, parents and employers.
We come today to Ephesians 6:5-9 dealing with the relationship between workers and those they work for.
Chapter 6:10-20 reveals the believers dealings with the devil and his demons.
I. God's instructions to those who serve others. Eph. 6:5-8
A. These instructions are written to servants and those they serve or work for. In this case Paul is addressing slaves. The word "servants" is the word "dou los" and refers to a bond slave. Some have concluded that the Bible condones slavery, but that is not true. The Old Testament does not authorize slavery, but it regulates the practice which has been common in the eastern countries for centuries and part of the culture of that time. The gospel in its spirit and genius is hostile to slavery in every form, under which its influence is gradually disappearing from among men
1. Paul in Ephesians 6 is only addressing Christians who found themselves in slavery and shows them in how they are to conduct themselves. Dealing with slavery is a civil matter of government. However, the conduct of Christians in all situations is a spiritual matter and God gives us clear instructions. America long since abolished slavery, but the principles of this passage are to be applied to the relationship one has with those whom a person works for and are subordinate too and those who are in positions of being the employer, supervisor or one in charge.
1. A slave is not a voluntary worker and in Roman times had no rights or status where he/she lived. Men and women became slaves from being captured in war, kidnaped and sold and some had to sell themselves into slavery to pay debts. They were like nonpersons or treated with the same regard one would have for an animal. His life was in the hands of his master who could do with him whatever he pleased. This included killing the slave or punishing him if that suited the master.
2. Paul is addressing slaves owned by unsaved masters, Jew or Gentile and Christian masters as well. Hebrew masters gave some rights to their slaves and treated them much better than did the Romans and Greeks. The Old Testament law addressed a Hebrew having a Hebrew slave. It stated, "Thou shalt not rule over him (the Hebrew slave) with rigour, but shalt fear thy God." Leviticus 25:43. "Ye shall not rule, one over another, with rigour" (Leviticus 25:46). The non-Hebrew slave seemed to be left unprotected.
B. Paul does not address the morals of slavery and was not opposed to the freedom of slaves if the opportunity arose. In 1 Corinthians 7:20 he wrote "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." He taught that God had called people to different stations in life and they were to live out the Christian life in the situation in which they were called.
1. For Christian slaves to disobey their masters would have caused God's name to be blasphemed. (1 Tim 6 :1).
"Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed." (1 Timothy 6:1)
To blaspheme God's name meant slandering God, or using His name lightly (Psalm 74:18). By definition, it means "To hurt or blast the reputation, or to smite with words, or reports; when applied to men denotes injurious speaking, or calumny; and when used in reference to God signifies speaking impiously of his nature, attributes, and works" In other words to be a child of God and to act like an unsaved person brings reproach on the name of God. When believers sin it makes salvation look worthless and causes others to think little of God.
2. Slaves were to please God with their service (Eph 6:5-8, Col 3:22)
"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God." (Colossians 3:22)
3. A slave was to show the love of Christ to his master. The love of Christ should be the reason for serving the master well (1 Tim 6:2).
"And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort." (1 Timothy 6:2)
C. Let us go back to the beginning of this discourse and look once again at Ephesians 5:18-21. You see to understand fully what God is seeking to tell us we must look at the whole discourse.
"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5:18-21)
1. Being filled with the Holy Spirit means being guided by Him and letting Him accomplish His will in our lives.
2. Too often Christians lose sight of who there are and what they represent. We are the children of God and we are to present the love of Christ to the world. If we get all wrapped up in our own selves and our "rights" we lose sight of this.
This does not mean that we are to take misuse... but when abused, we are to turn the other cheek, which means we are not to respond in kind. It does not mean one cannot seek other employment. Sometimes that is the solution. But whatever our circumstances may be we are to act like Christians and present even when we are taking advantage of the love of Christ.
1 Timothy 6:1...."Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed." (1 Timothy 6:1)
ILLUS: I once worked for a man who was a thief and he tried to get me to be a part of his thievery. I refused. He needed me because of the experience I had in installing security systems. His knowledge was limited and was the rest of his employees. Thus he used me. I never treated him or his son who worked as my helper and who I was trying to train badly. I made him a lot of money. But because I would not help him defraud customers... he called me in one Monday morning and was beside himself with pleasure as he told me I was fired. I simply went to my truck got my tools and went home. In three days the owner of the largest security company in Hampton Roads called me after hearing how I had been treated. He ask me if I would come to work for him. I did just that. They were honest, hard working people and I enjoyed being a part of their company. The Virginia Employment Security commission investigated my firing and in strong words condemned the man for firing me with no cause whatever.... except that I would not aid him in stealing from customers. By the way....the only time in my life I received money from the government....I received three days unemployment pay.
D. Paul repeatedly called himself a "dou' los" which is a bond slave of God. He kept in mind that he as a child of God must keep a good testimony before the world.
1. Paul said "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29) Being a child of God puts us in a different position than the lost world around us. We have often had to suffer the abuse because of our faith in Jesus Christ and because we cannot live in the flesh and let our carnal natures rule us. We do not strike back... which is what our carnal nature wants to do.
2. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Timothy 3:12) Since I have been saved I have often suffered because of being a Christian and many times because I was a pastor.
3. On that note, let me say this. Church members who do not show respect towards their pastor are falling into this same category. We are to be submissive one to the other as Ephesians 4:21 states. A pastor is to serve the Lord's flock as His under shepherd and the sheep are to follow. If a pastor gets bossy and lords over the congregation there are ways to deal with that in a godly Christ honoring way. When a church member begins to raise themselves above the pastor and the man God calls... they lose their testimony and the Lord is not honored.
II. Masters are to treat those under them well because they both had the same master in heaven with whom there is no partiality
A. Masters or those in authority have the same responsibility to those under them. A master, before God, has the same responsibility as the slave to honor God in his dealing with them who served him under him.
"And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him." (Ephesians 6:9)
B. Being in charge of others can fall into two categories or attitudes of masters.
1. One is the person in charge who sees themselves as the BOSS! Some see their position as lording over others. They see those that are under them as inferior. In other words, I am superior to you because I am in charge and you are to bow to my superiority.
Have you ever worked for someone like that? Most of us have. You see these people are motivated by pride. The think highly of themselves and being the boss is a way to feed their pride. They seek to raise themselves on the backs of others.
By the way.... this applies to employers, and to anyone who is in charge of something. I have seen it in churches among Christians. One person is assigned a job. They then begin to rule like a tyrant. They show little respect for others or their opinions or abilities. Most times they find themselves doing the whole job because people resent being bossed.... so they leave or quit.
2. The other person in charge sees themselves as in charge to get the job done and does not see themselves superior to anyone. They see themselves as the leader to show the others the way. They see those under them as coworkers and friends to share the task together. They see themselves as the head of a team and they respect the others and the other respect them. You know that is satisfying and rewarding when people work together in harmony with a common goal.
There is a Christian honoring way to handle lazy employee and those that do not do their job. Call them in privately and respectfully explain the situation to them and tell them where they stand and what you would like them to do. If they respond... great, if they do not then dismiss them. Never get mad, embarrass or scold an employee in front of others. You handle yourself respectfully and they will have no reason to blame you or anyone else. It would be clear that they brought them matter on themselves
3. Either way.... the boss should set the example and show leadership. Let people have the freedom to do a good job. Deal respectfully with those who do not... but be firm. A lazy employee causes more work for others and it is not fair to them to allow it to go on.
1. Can you see the principles that God is giving us here. Christians are to act like Christians at all times. A Christians life should honor the Lord and give him a good name. If we live like the world does.... it will not reflect the high principles of God, nor will can God use it to teach others.
2. Christians are the salt of the earth. Jesus said "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)
3. God's plan is clear for Christians. We are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. We are to disciple and teach men of Jesus Christ and of His salvation offered freely to the world.
4. The question is simple. Are you salt or salt that has no savor? Christians have a testimony, whether they realize it or not. They either honor the Lord, or they by their worldly lives, slander the name of their Savior.
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