Slaves (employees), obey your earthly masters (employers) in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites. Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven. Colossians 3:22-4:1
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, “Pay back what you owe.” So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. Matthew 18:21-35
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
The setting for relationships we are looking at today is the “workplace.” Our Colossians passage deals with the slave/master relationship. The correspondence between this relationship and that of the employee/employer relationship is striking. However, we are merely borrowing the instructions given and applying them to the workplace. This is all we are borrowing and we need to leave any kind of an actual slave/master parallel out of the equation. We are going to move through the passage and apply what is said. Be sure to look back at the passage as you go along to see specifically what was said.
Employment is employment. We work for employers. They do not work for us. So, “all” that we do should be a fulfillment (obey) of what they have determined they want us to do. The high level of work a person would do if they were being watched should be the level of work they do when they are not being watched. Serving an employer is another way of talking about work. We must work for our employer sincerely. This means that we take our work seriously and genuinely want to do the best job possible.
As believers we take living for the Lord seriously and genuinely want to live for him fully (best job possible). It is because we have given the Lord the center place (reverent fear) and have a vibrant connection with him, that we are able to live life this way. This is how we must approach our relationship with our employer as well. If we don’t have this kind of a flow to our lives, we will be hard pressed to do the best job possible in the workplace. Perhaps we’ll find it in ourselves (apart from a vibrant connection with God) to do all that our employer wants, but doing all that we do willingly, will likely be out of reach.
When we are in the flow (vibrant connection with God), we will be able to do all our work willingly. We will readily have the core perspective that we are working (employed) for the Lord rather than for people (employer). This is the key to being able to do all our work willingly, particularly when things come at us from our employer that would otherwise keep us from doing so. The real test in all this is whether we work for a paycheck or Divine reward. This is the end result of being in the Divine flow we have been talking about. It is this divine flow that safeguards us from doing wrong and facing the consequences that follow.
We actually are slaves of Christ and he is our Master. Serving Christ is what life is all about and it is the key to doing our part toward having great relationships in the workplace (our superiors and fellow employees alike). Christian employers who want to do their part toward having great relationships in the workplace are reminded that they are slaves of Christ and he is their Master. The Divine flow for them will lead to just and fair treatment of all employees for whom they are responsible.
Continuing on with our pattern this week, we want to look at the role of forgiveness in workplace relationships. Jesus told the story in Matthew 18 in order to help his followers clearly understand how essential forgiveness is in all relationships. Our highlighted portion today brings us to the most critical part of forgiveness in relationships. After his master mercifully forgave his huge debt, the slave refused to extend mercy and forgiveness to his fellow slave with his relatively small debt.
The lesson in this for us is a lesson about absurdity. God has forgiven us a huge debt by bestowing redemption in Christ upon us. In the light of our redemption it is absolutely absurd for us not to freely extend mercy and forgiveness to all people. So, in the workplace, whether it is our employer, other superiors, fellow workers, or even customers, our redemption in Christ must be so prominent in our hearts and minds that it thoroughly and completely flavors all our workplace relationships and dealings.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, you really do want me to let you into every area of my life. Please come with me fully into my workplace and bring your transforming touch upon how I go about doing what I do there as an employee. Continue bringing about the vibrant connection with you that I need so that truly my life and commitment to doing the best job possible impacts my work place in vibrant and helpful ways. In all my workplace relationships and dealings help me conduct myself in the light of the full and complete redemption you have bestowed on me. Amen!
Posted on Thu, March 14, 2019
by Ken Hart