Summary: To find joy on the job, do your work respectfully, sincerely, and enthusiastically, as unto the Lord.
Dad was skeptical of his teenage son's newfound determination to build bulging muscles. Even so, he followed his son to the store's weight-lifting department, where they admired a set of weights.
“Please, Dad,” pleaded the boy, “I promise I'll use 'em every day.”
“I don't know, Michael. It's really a commitment on your part,” the father said.
“They're not cheap either,” the father said.
“I'll use 'em, Dad, I promise. You'll see.”
Finally convinced, the father paid for the equipment and headed for the door, but after a few steps, he heard his son behind him say, “What! You mean I have to carry them to the car?” (“Pastor Tim's Clean Laugh List,” Mark Moring, managing editor of Campus Life)
It seems that from a very young age, many people develop a strong aversion to work. We’ve come to think of it as a dirty 4-letter word, but God made us to work. Genesis 2 says, “God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to WORK it.”
Work was a part of God’s original plan. It was a crucial part of His original paradise, but sin entered the picture and turned our work into labor. Now, work has become drudgery for so many, when God intended it to be a delightful part of our every-day lives.
The question is: How can we get back to God’s original design? How can we learn to enjoy work again? How can we take pleasure in it as a meaningful, delightful part of what we do 5 or 6 days out of seven? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Ephesians 6, Ephesians 6, where the Bible tells us how we can recapture the joy at our jobs.
Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ. (ESV)
Now, when you and I see the word, “slave,” we usually think about the raced-based oppression of African slaves during the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries in our own country. But that was not the case at all in Bible days.
Murray Harris, in his book Slave of Christ, describes what slavery was like in the 1st century Greco-Roman world. Number one, he says, in that time slaves were not distinguishable from anyone else by race, speech, or clothing. They looked and lived like everyone else and were never segregated off from the rest of society in any way. Number two, slaves were more educated than their owners in many cases and many times held high managerial positions (cf. Joseph managing Potiphar’s household). Number three, from a financial standpoint, slaves made the same wages as free laborers and therefore were not themselves usually poor. In fact, they often accrued enough personal capital to buy themselves out. And number four, very few persons were slaves for life in the first century. Most expected to be set free after about ten years or by their late thirties at the latest. (Murray Harris, Slave of Christ, IVP, 2001; www.PreachingToday.com)
So you see, slaves in Bible days were a lot like the common laborer today. And what God says to them can apply to any of us, employee or employer alike, who work for a living. So what does God say to us workers? It’s very simple.
LISTEN TO THE BOSS.
Obey the boss.
Just do what the boss tells you to do, and do it respectfully. Obey “with fear and trembling” verse 5 says. It’s a phrase that speaks of the highest respect, not so much because we’re afraid our bosses will hurt us, but more so because we hold them in such high regard.
After Titus returned from a visit to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul commented in a letter to this church, “His affection for you is even greater, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling” (2 Corinthians 7:15).
It’s the same phrase we have here in Ephesians 6. Titus, the apostolic representative, loved the Corinthian believers, and they treated him with the highest respect. It was not a fear-hate relationship. It was a love-respect relationship, and that’s the kind of relationship God wants us to have on the job.
A man was having dinner with his parents at a high-class restaurant in London. The food was superb, and the setting—complete with chandeliers, crystal and silver—was unbelievably elegant. Nonetheless, when his mother's main course arrived, she felt the need for a little salt. Trying the three silver shakers that were on the table, she discovered each contained pepper. She called the waiter over only to be told that she must be mistaken. Each table always contained two dispensers of pepper and one of salt.