Summary: A sermon for Labor Day on the workplace from Ephesians 6:5-9 (I don’t recall where I got the seed thoughts for this sermon. I modified it from 1995 and the originial sources are unknown)
Sermon for 9/6/2009 on Ephesians 6:5-9
Labor for the Lord
In 1882, Peter McGuiure, founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, suggested a national holiday to honor the country’s working people. In September of that same year, workers staged the first Labor Day parade in New York City. Organized labor then campaigned to make the day a national holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed a bill making Labor Day a national holiday in the United States in 1894.
A. The Bible has a lot to say about our labor, our careers, and our jobs.
B. However, most of the time it is relation to a slave and master situation.
C. Slavery was abolished in the all of the United States in 1865 with Amendment 13 to the United States Constitution.
D. Slavery was very prominent in the days of the New Testament. The Jews had very strict laws concerning slaves in the Law of Moses. A Jew could only have another Jew as a slave for 7 years. A Jew could have a foreigner as a slave for his whole life, but the master had to treat his slaves fairly and humanely. The Gentiles did not have such laws.
E. In the Gentile world life was cheap. It has been estimated that about half of the total population of the Roman Empire, or about 60 million people, were slaves. Slave owners became very brutal, and the slaves themselves were without hope. Many slaves were very corrupt and tried to “stick it to the man.” Under Roman law, the slave had no rights or protection. A master could have his slave crucified for any reason. Augustus Caesar had 30,000 slaves crucified during his reign.
F. Some slaves had good masters and they became part of the family. It all depended upon the master and how he viewed his slaves. Some were cruel, and some were kind. Philemon and Onesimus is an example of this. Philemon was kind to Onesimus. Onesimus repaid that kindness by stealing and running off.
G. This may seem irrelevant in our day, but according to Scripture, a Christian, whatever their work is to see it as service given to the Lord.
H. A slaved lived by the means of his master. We have much more freedom than a slave, but still, much like a slave, we must work to live if we are able. Therefore, Scripture has much to say to us about the employer/ employee relationship when it talks about the slave/ master relationship.
J. The Lord didn’t burden us with work. He blessed us with it.
K. God worked for 6 days and then he rested.
L. (Gen 2:15 NIV) The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Thesis: From today’s Scripture we find Godly principles to help us in our daily jobs and work.
I. Let’s talk about most of us, employees.
A. As Christians in our work, we should obey our superiors, just as we obey Christ. When we are working for our employers, we are working for the Lord.
B. But my employer is not a Christian; it is hard to work for him. He demands things from me that are unreasonable. Still serve him, obey him like we should obey Christ. (1 Pet 2:18 NIV) 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.
C. Pray for your employer, your boss. (1 Tim 2:1 NIV) I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--(1 Tim 2:2 NIV) for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Tim 2:3 NIV) This is good, and pleases God our Savior, (1 Tim 2:4 NIV) who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
C. We should never do things that are wrong for our employer. WE must do right, because Jesus Christ would never ask us to do something wrong. (1 Pet 3:13 NIV) Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? (1 Pet 3:14 NIV) But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. (1 Pet 3:17 NIV) It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
D. This is the beauty of not being a slave. We can refuse to do something immoral and not get punished for it. Oh, the boss might fire us but we will not be whipped.
E. Why should we work hard for our employers?
1. It is the will of God. We are to do our best and not be a reproach to our Lord. Our efforts should result in work of the very highest quality. Why? Because we are not just laying bricks; we are building a wall for God’s glory.