Summary: Exposition of Col. 3:22–4:1
The Christian Worker
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven” (Col. 3:22–4:1).
What should a Christian worker look like? As we consider this, we also must ask, “Does the way I work represent my Christian faith?”
Each person is called to work. Some work as students, some work as teachers, some work as mothers, some as businessmen, etc. Everybody works for a living. The only difference is the pay. Some don’t get paid at all, some get paid a little, and some get paid a lot. What should the Christian’s work life look like?
Often, people think of work as a bad thing. Some may even think it is a result of the fall (Gen. 3:17–18). However, work was given before the fall. It was Adam’s responsibility to till the ground and take care of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15).
In fact, Scripture teaches that we will work in heaven. In Luke 19:17, we see that those who are faithful with the gifts and talents God has given them here on earth will be rewarded with overseeing cities in the coming kingdom.
Also, in Revelation 21:2, we see the holy city of Jerusalem coming out of heaven to the earth. Just the fact that heaven is called a city implies many characteristics about eternity. In a city there is commerce, there is business, there is education, and there is government. Heaven will not be sitting on a cloud doing nothing. It will be worshiping and serving the Lord together in the heavenly city and on the earth forever. It has always been God’s will for man to work.
Moreover, our God is a worker too! He creates and sustains the world by the power of his Word (Heb. 1:3). He is not idle! He prays for his saints in order to save them to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). We serve a God who neither sleeps nor slumbers (Ps. 121:4). He is always active in his creation.
Work is something we do here on earth and something we will also do in heaven. It is a way that we imitate God and bring honor to him. If work is something we will do throughout eternity, we must ask ourselves, “How can we work in such a way that God is glorified?”
Paul says in Colossians 3 that our relationship to work should be radically different than the world’s because of Christ. In Colossians 3:1, he starts off with, “Since you have been raised with Christ.” The Christian has a new heavenly position in Christ that should affect everything he does. In Chapter 3 he says it should affect how he thinks and the type of “clothes” he wears, in reference to one’s actions, attitudes, and priorities (vv. 8–17). It should affect his relationship with his family (vv. 18–21) and even his work. Our relationship to Christ encompasses everything in our lives, including the workplace (vv. 22–25).
It should be noted that for many Christians God has called for the workplace to be their primary mission field. It is where they will spend the most time and often where they will be around the most people. For the teacher, her mission field is her co–workers and students. For the businessman, his mission field is both his clients and co–workers. For the housewife, her mission is her husband and children.
It is in the workplace that many of us have the opportunity to spread the salt and light of Christ to the most people in an intimate way (cf. Matt. 5:13–14). It for this reason this text is very important for us.
What should the Christian’s work look like? Can people at my job tell that I am a Christian? Does the way I work honor Christ to whom I am accountable? In this lesson we will study the Christian’s responsibility in the work place.
Big Question: What are Christians’ responsibilities in the workplace as an employee or an employer, and how do we practically live this out in our current jobs?
The Christian Employee
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism” (Col. 3:22–25).