Summary: If we want to find fulfillment and joy in our work then we must submit even to bosses who treat us infairly, for only in this do we experience grace and fulfill our calling.
David Roper’s 3-year-old grandson, Seth, in Judsonia, Arkansas, received a toy lawnmower for Christmas a few years ago, but he didn’t have the chance to use it until one hot July day when his father went out to mow the lawn and Seth volunteered to “help.” A few minutes later, though, Seth was back in the house, dragging his toy lawnmower behind him. “I'm going to mow in here,” he explained to his grandpa. “It's too hot outside!” (David L. Roper, Judsonia, Arkansas, “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
It seems that early on, some people gain an aversion to hard work. Others of us don’t mind the work so much as the people we have to work with. Recently (in 2008), USA Today reported that when asked to identify which causes more stress at work, co-workers or workload, 51% of respondents said co-workers, while 49% said workload. When asked if they work with one or more annoying co-workers, 86% of respondents said yes. (USA Today Snapshots, www.PreachingToday.com)
Perhaps that explains an earlier Gallup poll which found that 55% of employees have no enthusiasm for their work. Gallup described them as “not engaged.” That same study found that nearly 1 in 5 (19%) are so uninterested or negative about their jobs that they poison the workplace to the point that their companies would be better off without them. (USA Today, 5-10-2001; www.PreachingToday.com)
Spencer Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese? once said that “the only long-lasting motivation [for work] comes from employees who bring it to work” themselves. (USA Today, 5-10-01; www.PreachingToday. com)
The question I want us to explore this morning is: What must we bring to our work to become engaged and enthusiastic about it? What must we bring to our work to stay motivated for the long haul? What must we bring to our work to find fulfillment and joy in our labor even if some of the people we work with are a bit obnoxious?
1 Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. (NIV)
Literally, to those who are crooked; i.e., unscrupulous or unjust in the way they treat their workers. God is talking about our attitude even when we work for such bosses or customers. If we want to become engaged and enthusiastic about our work, then we must bring to our work an attitude of submission and respect. If we want to find fulfillment and joy in our labor, then we must…
SUBMIT EVEN TO RUTHLESS AND UNJUST BOSSES.
We must obey with respect even those who are crooked and unjustly harsh. I know it sounds oxymoronic, but it is the only way we can stay motivated for the long haul.
You see, joy in our work does not come from our external circumstances. It comes from the inner attitude of the heart as we do our work “for the Lord’s sake.” That’s the concept that started this whole section in verse 13. There it says, “Submit yourselves FOR THE LORD’S SAKE to every authority…”
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 the boss even if he is “crooked.” Then we will…
Then we will sense the favor of God’s presence. Then we will encounter God’s unconditional blessings even in the midst of our suffering and pain.
1 Peter 2:19-20 For it is commendable [In the original text this literally says, “For this is grace] if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (NIV)
Again, literally the text says, “This is grace before God.” To suffer unjustly is a way to experience God’s grace. Did you hear me? Let me say it again. To suffer unjustly is a way to experience God’s grace.
In his book, A Place for Skeptics, Scott Larson tells the story of a woman who along with her husband were missionaries in Western Europe. There, she began to have pain in her back, which eventually became so unbearable that she could no longer function, even with muscle relaxants. X-rays revealed a tumor the size of a grapefruit that had attached itself to her spinal cord. Immediate surgery was called for, but the operation was considered somewhat routine and not a particularly high risk procedure.