Parkland First Baptist Church
October 31, 2021
      • 2 Kings 22–23CSB

      • 2 Chronicles 34–35CSB

      • Zephaniah 1–3CSB

      • Jeremiah 1–3CSB

      • Jeremiah 4–6CSB

      • Jeremiah 7–9CSB

  • Work As Though You Work For God

    We are continuing our trek through the book of Ephesians.
    Today we pick up with another set of “household codes” Paul is giving his readers.
    The first was husband/wives and the second was parents/children.
    Today we will look at master/slave relationship and Paul’s guidance for that relationship.
    Now remember all of these rules or codes are based on Ephesians 5:21 where Paul tells us to submit one another in the fear of Christ.
    To be able to live that way, we must be “Filled with the Spirit” the command found in verse 18 of chapter 5.
    The only way to live the way Paul is encouraging us to live is by the enabling of the Holy Spirit.
    Otherwise, our fallen state of selfishness would get in the way and we would only seek our desires rather than thinking of others.
    Thereby, disobeying the 2nd Greatest command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
    What was your least favorite job you ever had?
    Cricket farmer.
    Mowed lawns.
    Salesman, custodian, stock clerk, and go-fer at a family own department store.
    Jean sales in a Jean shop
    Sales at Sears
    Security Officer
    Temp Worker
    Magic shop sales
    Then there was the vocational ministry positions.
    My least favorite was the jeans sales due to the management and co-workers.
    It would have been easy for me to just say “the heck with this” and only do what was required and nothing else.
    Yet, I couldn’t do that.
    Deep down, I knew that my work ethic was a tool for the gospel and I was the only Christian there.
    Paul teaches us in the section that the lordship of Christ should affect our view of work.
    We can exalt Christ through our various jobs.
    Both paid and unpaid.
    Both awful and wonderful.
    Our vocation is our special calling, requiring God-given talents,and God Himself is active in our daily labor.
    Ephesians 6:5–9 CSB
    5 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ. 6 Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. 7 Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, 8 knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. 9 And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

    Slavery In The First Century

    In order to fully understand this passage and apply it to our lives today, we need to understand slavery in the New Testament times.
    It is estimated that there were 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire.
    That nearly one third of the population in large cities like Epphsus.
    That meant that every household had some sort of slave/master relationship.
    By the time of the Christian era, sweeping changes had taken place and the abusive and exploitative actions had be abolished and the treatment of slaves were greatly improved.
    Slaves under Roman law in the first century could generally count on eventually being set free.
    Very few ever reached old age as slaves.
    Inscriptions indicate that almost 50 percent of slaves were freed before the age of thirty.
    What is more, while the slave remained his master’s possession he could own property — including other slaves! — and completely controlled his own property, so that he could invest and save to purchase his own freedom.
    We also must understand that being a slave did not indicate one’s social class.
    Slaves regularly were accorded the social status of their owners.
    Regarding outward appearance, it was usually impossible to distinguish a slave from free persons.
    Finally, selling oneself into slavery was commonly used as a means of obtaining Roman citizenship and gaining an entrance into society.
    Roman slavery in the first century was far more humane and civilized than the American/African slavery practiced in this country much later.
    This is a sobering and humbling fact!
    Why do we need to know this background information.
    First, to answer those who criticize Christianity because the New Testament nowhere directly attacks or condemns slavery.
    Because of the positive reforms then in effect in regard to Roman slavery;
    Because the institution of slavery was not generally considered evil by slaves or masters;
    Because to attack slavery would have wrongly labeled Christianity as economically subversive (besides, the immediate demise of slavery would have reduced both slaves and masters to poverty); and
    Because the radical brotherhood and equality explicit in the gospel would be a death knell to slavery
    The other reason is to help us understand that parallels between the relationships of first-century slaves and masters and between twentieth-century employees and employers are closer than one might first think.
    The teaching for the Ephesian church is directly applicable to today’s bosses and workers.

    Paul’s Exhortation To Slaves: Do Your Work As Unto Christ Verses 5-8

    In these verse, Jesus Christ is mentioned 4 times.
    The command is clear: Live all of life for Christ.
    While slaves were to obey their masters, they were to ultimately see that Christ is their master.
    He was urging them to transfer masters even if they could change jobs.
    With this in mind then, how would they glorify God in their work?

    Glorify Christ by working respectfully verse 5

    They were to obey with “fear and trembling.”
    This fear is probably the same type of fear of Christ we see in verse 5:21.
    They were to work as if they were working for Christ Himself.

    Glorify Christ by working wholeheartedly verse 5-6

    The emphasis on the heart is seen “in the sincerity of your heart” and “do God’s will from your heart.”
    Paul urged the slaves not to be hypocrites, just working when the boss was present: “Don’t work only while being watched, in order to please men.”
    Do you know some people who do this?
    Do you do this? Work hard only being seen by the boss?
    While the temptation for the master was threaten the slaves to do the work.
    A temptation for the servant was being lazy or lying instead of working faithfully.
    Paul points out that the slave and later the master, both must remember to see Christ in all they do.

    Glorify Christ by working willingly verse 7

    Paul says they should “Serve with a good attitude,” not with a begrudging spirit.
    He tells them to put their heart and soul into their work because, after all, they are doing “God’s will.”
    Paul encourages cheerful and glad service.
    Have you know anyone work like this?
    It’s hard to have this attitude especially when you don’t like the job.
    Just remember, you have a job, your getting paid, making friends, but ultimately you are blessed by God with the job and you are working for Him.

    Glorify Christ by working expectantly Verse 8.

    Paul reminds them that the bonus or reward is coming.
    “Knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.”
    No act goes unnoticed.
    Believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and be rewarded based on present faithfulness.
    That perspective should change the way you see your job and work.
    The writer of Proverbs says, “A man’s spirit can endure sickness, but who can survive a broken spirit?” (Prov 18:14).
    If a person’s spirit is crushed, life can become unbearable and you want to just give up.
    But what lifts the spirit? Christ! Future hope!

    Paul’s Exhortation To Masters: Treat Your Slaves As You Would Christ Verse 9

    in this verse Paul shares four words for the Christian master regarding their treatment of their slaves.
    In this time these words word radical and countercultural.
    Yet, I think, they would go on to help change the world and abolish slavery at that time.

    Practice Mutuality.

    Paul says, “Treat your slaves the same way.”
    Masters were to treat their slaves as they wanted to be treated: with integrity, respect, humility, and gentleness.
    Remember the 2nd greatest command to love your neighbor or the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you.
    They also were to treat them as if they were treating Christ (cf. Matt 25:40).
    If masters wanted respect and service, then they should give it also.

    Avoid Hostility.

    Paul says to oversee them “without threatening.”
    This type of exhortation to masters would have been extremely rare.
    But Christian masters were to be different.
    They were not to bully or use aggression.

    Live with Christ-centered accountability.

    Next Paul says, “You know that both their Master and yours is in heaven.”
    Masters were to live with a fear of Christ.
    Proverbs speaks of this equal accountability of rich and poor: “The rich and the poor have this in common: the LORD made them both” (Prov 22:2).
    “The poor and the oppressor have this in common: the LORD gives light to the eyes of both” (Prov 29:13).
    The Lord is the Judge of all the earth, of every person (Prov 15:3).
    This sobering truth should change the way we live and work.

    Remember God’s impartiality.

    Lastly Paul says, “There is no favoritism with Him.”
    Partiality was written into the Roman law.
    However Paul reminds us that on the last day it will not matter.
    Jesus is utterly impartial.
    Roman law was discriminatory, but heavenly justice is not.

    How Can This Passage Change Your Life?

    First as employees, we need to remember that first we are to serve and exalt Jesus Christ.

    Paul was writing to Christians in this letter.
    He has encouraged us to be filled with the Spirit.
    As a result, we do not live our lives, love our spouses, raise our kids, or work our jobs alone.
    Christ abides in us, so do your work through Christ.
    How? Do you pray before going to work? Do you pray for the Spirit to fill you and for God to use you as a missionary?
    Second, as employees Jesus is our model for a work ethic.
    Jesus came as a Suffering Servant who humbles Himself and died for sinners.
    He worked for 30 years as a carpenter. Think about how He worked.
    Would Jesus have disrespected a person while working? No.
    Would Jesus slack up when no one was watching? No.
    Was He a begrudging servant? No.
    Did He minimize His job? No.
    As a follower of Christ, then you should be exemplary in your service.
    You should not need supervision.
    Besides this, your workplace is a great place to make the gospel look good to nonbelievers, not turn them off.
    Third, you should do your best, as if you are doing it for Jesus.
    You should do your work for Christ now but realize that you will receive a reward from Christ later.
    Many Christians do not think about this.
    They think, “Our works don’t matter.”
    True, Jesus’ work saves us, not our works.
    However, God saved us to do good works (Eph 2:10), and rewards will be given based on our faithfulness.
    We should anticipate the ultimate bonus: hearing the King say, “Well done.”
    People in this life focus on the nature of one’s job, but the Bible puts the focus on being faithful to your job.

    For employers or those who are managers/supervisors lead like Christ.

    Lead through Christ, better let Christ lead through you.
    Leadership is a challenge!
    You take on numerous responsibilities and make numerous sacrifices.
    You need the Spirit’s power!
    Paul felt the pressure of leading churches (2 Cor 11:28).
    But he goes on to describe how in his weakness the grace of Jesus is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9).
    We must lead out of Christ’s strength too.
    Lead like Christ.
    Christ is not just the model Servant; He is the ultimate Master also!
    What kind of leadership did Jesus exercise? Servant leadership.
    He displayed the attitudes that we in leadership should follow.
    He came to serve. He took up the towel.
    He cared for the vulnerable.
    He did not seek earthly praise.
    He was a shepherd, not a dictator.
    Lead for Christ.
    Paul says masters/employers will give an account one day.
    As a leader, you may have more opportunities to bend the truth and make unethical decisions because you have less accountability and more control over your time.
    But remember, your ultimate boss or authority or HR Director is Christ.
    He is an impartial master.
    What this means is that you should seek to honor Him with holy leadership.
    What matters most in this passage is your relationship with Christ.
    Follow our model the obedient Servant, the best Master, and the sovereign Lord.
      • Ephesians 6:5–9CSB

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