Summary: Submit even to a ruthless and unjust boss and so experience grace and fulfill your calling.
After a year’s worth of good, hard work, some employers like to provide a year-end bonus for their employees. Now, most employees appreciate those bonuses, but there are some who inwardly groan at what their employer gives them.
Just a few years ago (December 6, 2014), a reporter for the BBC, Maria Atanasov, talked about some of the “worst year-end bonuses ever.”
One example is David Hood, a Jewish vegetarian, who received a… ham as his Christmas bonus. Another year, Hood received a handwritten letter of thanks from his boss, but his name was spelled incorrectly—twice!
Jay Bazzinoti, who works in Boston on the east coast, received a sealed envelope full of coupons that were only good on the west coast of the United States.
And the best, or worst bonus, came from Steve Johnson’s boss, who after giving him a turkey for 15 years, gave him a picture of a silhouette of a turkey. Atanasov says, “It wasn't even a copy of a real turkey. It looked like the turkeys your kids make out of their handprints in kindergarten.” (Maria Atanasov, “Could these be the worst year-end bonuses ever?” BBC, 12-6-14; www.PreachingToday.com)
I hope none of you have bosses like that! But even if you do, you can experience God’s grace at work. You can enjoy God’s favor even if your boss disfavors you.
The question is: How? How can you enjoy God’s favor at work? How can you find fulfillment and joy in your labor even if some of the people with whom you work are a bit obnoxious? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Peter 2, 1 Peter 2, where the Bible tells us how to find God’s grace at work.
1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. (ESV)
Literally, to those who are crooked; i.e., unscrupulous or unjust in the way they treat their workers. God is talking about your attitude even when you work for such bosses or customers. If you want to find God’s grace at work, if you want to find fulfillment and joy in your labor, then...
SUBMIT TO YOUR BOSS.
Defer even to ruthless and unjust bosses. Obey them with respect even if they are crooked and unjustly harsh.
I know it sounds oxymoronic, but it is the only way you find strength and grace to endure and even enjoy your work. For joy in your work does not come from your external circumstances. It comes from the inner attitude of the heart as you do your work “for the Lord’s sake.”
That’s the concept that started this whole section in verse 13. There it says, “Be subject FOR THE LORD’S SAKE to every human institution…” In other words, don’t see yourself working for your boss; see yourself working for the Lord.
For, as a believer, you are working for a much bigger purpose than to make a miserable boss or customer happy. You are working to bring honor and glory to the Lord, who appreciates even cups of cold water given in His name. See God behind your boss, and it will help you immensely. Submit to your boss even if he or she is “crooked.” Then…
Sense God’s favor in your work. Enjoy God’s unconditional blessings even in the midst of harsh treatment and pain.
1 Peter 2:19 “For this is a gracious thing” – literally says, “For this is grace…
1 Peter 2:19-20 For this is [grace], when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God (ESV) – or better “this is grace before God.”
To suffer unjustly is a way to experience God’s grace. Let me say it again. To suffer unjustly is a way to experience God’s grace.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes about Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was captured by the enemy during the Vietnam War. He was “the highest-ranking United States military officer in the 'Hanoi Hilton' prisoner-of-war camp.” He was tortured over 20 times during his eight-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973, and he lived out the war without any prisoner's rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again. He shouldered the burden of command, doing everything he could to create conditions that would increase the number of prisoners who would survive unbroken, while fighting an internal war against his captors and their attempts to use the prisoners for propaganda.