Work is Really Worship

Church, Let’s Be the Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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When we honor one another, we honor God.
All relationships require submission, honor and respect. Whether in a marriage, parenting our children, loving or obeying our parents all require submission, honor and respect.
Even in our work relationships, the same requirements are necessary. Whether you are serving your boss or you are the boss we must view work as worship. Our work must gives honor Jesus as we honor our boss by working hard.
Work is necessary for everyone and we want to work smarter not harder. We often want to do the least amount of work as possible because we all get the same paycheck at the end.
Seeing work as worship means that our relationship with Christ will reflect our relationship with work and with the people.
Paul offers practical instructions about relationships where we are under authority and relationships where we are in authority.
God’s way is much different then the world’s way.
As we see work as worship unto the Lord, society sees work as a hated place. Work is something we complain about. Work is a necessary evil to earn money.
When we follow Jesus and align with God’s way the way we look at people, regardless of class, position of authority, or social status, levels out because we ultimately are submitting to Jesus every day.
Digging into our text, let’s see how this is done in our world today. In our text, Paul refers to something that is no longer in our culture today but in Paul’s day, it was a real issue. Slaves and Masters.
Let’s look at our text this morning.
Ephesians 6:5–9 ESV
5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
PRAY
Paul deals with an old school relationship between Slaves and their Masters. This is a relationship that no longer exists in our culture but it still applies to work relationships.
All of us are held accountable at work. I am accountable to the church, to the board, to the AG, but most importantly, I’m accountable to the Lord.
We are all accountable to someone on the job. We all have a boss that we have to report to even if you are the owner you are accountable to your customers.
When Paul wrote this letter, slavery was legal and a part of the culture so let’s first look at the original context, the slave master relationship.

The Original Relationship Context: Slaves and their Masters

Throughout Biblical history, People became slaves through various avenues: birth, parents selling or abandoning their children, captivity in war, inability to pay debts, and some volintarily gave themselves up to better their condition. BUT… Race was never a factor.
No doubt for many slaves life was harsh and cruel, but their circumstances depended on their owners. They did not merely do menial work; they did nearly all the work, including oversight and management and most professions. Many slaves were educated better than their owners. They could own property, even other slaves, slaves were allowed to save money to buy their freedom.
No slave class existed, for slaves were present in all but the highest economic and social status. Many gained freedom by age thirty, especially in urban areas. Even after gaining freedom, they were still under obligation to their former owners in times of need.
Laws attempted to prevent gross abuse of slaves, but owners did have free rein to treat slaves as they wished.
Some were loved and treated like family, but they had no rights.
Others were treated cruelly, and if owners wanted to torture, crucify, or kill slaves they could.
The main limitation of physical abuse was the loss of value in the slave.
Threat and violence were assumed necessary to control slaves.
In a Jewish framework slaves were somewhat better off. The Old Testament prohibited Jews holding other Jews in permanent slavery.
In the Greco-Roman world slaves were often dehumanized.
Aristotle, said that the free man rules over the slave because the slave has no deliberative faculty and is a living tool.
He considered it inappropriate to speak about justice with regards to slaves.
So why didn’t Paul speak to abolish slavery?
Paul didn’t need to. He spoke to the culture of the day where slavery was legal but he also spoke to how we now view others, slave or masters, in light of our true Master as followers of Jesus.
If Roman society would all become followers of Jesus and obey this text, slavery would have been abolished all together.
Here’s what Paul is speaking to master’s of slaves…
Ephesians 6:9 ESV
9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
For masters to be asked to treat their slaves “the same” as they would want to be treated was quite shocking.
For them to follow this instruction, they would have to treat their slaves with respect and fear and with sincerity of heart as to Christ. That alone should have abolished slavery for Christians!
Owners would also have to give up playing politics and social norms and do the will of God as slaves of Christ.
Slaves would have to give up slacking off and masters had to give up threatening.

Today’s Relationship Context: Workers and their Boss

Today, everyone needs a job. We all need to earn a paycheck to make a living, so we can contribute to society and to our family.
In order to do that well, we have to have a good working relationship as a worker and as a boss.
Even if you are retired, you still have people who are paid to provide you goods and services… or you still do work around the house or volunteer your skills.
Have you ever had bad service? A restaurant, getting work done on your car, or at home.
Maybe they cut corners, they are rude, slow, distracted, they overcharge you… maybe the job just wasn’t done right.
How do you feel? Frustrated, angry… you feel like calling the owner, leaving a bad review, you feel ripped off and taken advantage of.
Sometimes people have bad days, even at work so give grace. However, no matter how we feel, we must remember that we get paid to do a job so do your very best no matter how you feel.
Remember that Jesus is our real boss and we must give HIM our very best whether we feel like it or not.
Let our work be worship unto the Lord because how we work, how our attitude is on the job will make a huge impact on the people we work with and the customers we serve.
Sometimes we get tired, sometimes we get sick, life happens, take a day off. Rest your body, take a Sabbath at least once a week.
Take a vacation, life should not revolve around our work, and we should not expect our employees to think it does. We are not human doings, we are human beings so be present with your family, with your church family, but mostly be present with the Lord.
Be at your best so you can work at your best.
Ephesians 6:5–6 ESV
5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
God sees what we do and what we try to get away with… cutting corners, being lazy, wasting company time, saying one thing but not following through.
Our work is worship unto the Lord.
Ephesians 6:7–8 ESV
7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
Work hard, do your very best, take the initiative whether you are asked to do it or not, “bondservant or free” let your work be worship unto the Lord.
We don’t work to be elevated in our world but it’s nice when that happens. It’s the Lord who will elevate us when we are found faithful.
Look at Joseph: mistreated, sold into slavery, falsely accused, forgotten in prison but it was the Lord who eventually elevated him because he was found faithful.
Look at Daniel: living in a pagan land he didn’t choose to go to, served an evil king he didn’t elect, but the land prospered under Daniel faithfulness and wisdom. God promoted Daniel, Daniel was an adviser to kings because he was found faithful.
If you are the boss, reward those who work hard. Your team should consider it a pleasure to work for employees who feel supported, and genuinely cared for.
So whether we are considered a slave or a master both must do what is right because we are all ultimately accountable to the Lord.
Ephesians 6:9 ESV
9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
Because of our new relationship with Jesus, slaves no longer belonged to their owners.
Both workers and bosses, slaves and masters, are now both slaves of Christ.
Both are called to serve the Lord, and do HIS will.
Paul was stating that the slave owners were to treat them the same way as slaves were to treat owners.
1 Corinthians 7:21–23 NLT
21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22 And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. 23 God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.
When we serve Jesus, we are set free from the ways of the world. Jesus paid a high price for our freedom so use your freedom to worship the Lord in our work.
Philippians 2:12 NLT
12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
Our jobs and our role in the culture do not determine who we are.
We live in, for, and through Christ in all we do. We must remember that our value and identity do not derive from our circumstances, money earned, or leadership position but our identity comes from Christ.
By directing all our actions to Christ, everything in life, even the mundane becomes elevated to meaning and service to God.
1 Peter 2:18–19 ESV
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
Think about what Jesus went through… think about what HE endured for us.
HIS suffering was completely unjust.
So how do we respond when we are treated unjustly? We must kill them with kindness, respect, and by controlling your tongue.
Paul identifies himself as a slave frequently.
When referring to pleasing the Lord, doing HIS will is mutual submission.
As we apply mutual submission to slaves and slave owners, this redefines slavery.
All of us stand on equal footing with the same Lord, who cares deeply how we treat one another.
Jesus values all humanity, therefore we must do the same.
Matthew 25:40 ESV
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Our culture does not value human life: abortion, human trafficking…
God values humanity so as believers, we must also value all human life.
How we treat people will reflect how we value human life and that value will carry through on how we treat our boss and how our boss treats his/her employees.
However, on the job, value is also earned, we are not entitled to it. We are value to the company if we serve the company well and we will serve the company well if we are valued by the company.
Longevity, consistency, and hard work doesn’t just happen. It takes time to build trust and build a reputation as a hard worker. Value and trust take time.
Nick Saben resigned as head coach of Alabama because.
After loosing to Michigan in the Rose Bowl his players wanted 2 guarantees:
how much money they will pay.
that they would start.
Balance our value as employees and our value in Christ. Never expect it or think that you are entitled to it but keep worshiping Jesus even at work.
Ephesians 4:2–3 ESV
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
This is beyond the Golden Rule, beyond treating others as WE want to be treated; it instructs us to treat others as we would treat our Lord.
Take Away:
Work is Worship so always do everything as unto the Lord.
How is your attitude at work?
How do you treat those who work for you?
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