Summary: Whether we are a boss or a worker, a student, a homemaker, self-employed or retired, in whatever job we have, we should each insist on our rights in the workplace.
1. The first right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right heart (6:5-6)
2. The second right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right attitude (6:7)
3. The third right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right reward (6:8)
4. The fourth right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right perspective (6:9)
Since even before we were a nation, Americans have been concerned with our rights. Our earliest settlers left Europe to be free from the state church and for the right to worship as they chose. Our rights are something that we Americans hold dear. Do you know the reason our Constitution wasn’t immediately ratified by all 13 colonies? It was over the idea of the Bill of Rights. Some colonies wouldn’t ratify the Constitution until they were included. So did that mean that the other colonies didn’t think the rights laid out in those 10 Amendments were important? No, they thought the Bill of Rights could be seen as limiting our rights to only those 10. They didn’t want our rights to be seen as limited by government in any way other than those spelled out in the Constitution. Our fundamental rights have always been important to us. So much so, that in many ways, we have taken it to the extreme. Our culture has now become obsessed with our rights. If the law says that a woman can’t kill her unborn baby, she says her rights are being violated. If a public place won’t allow public, graphic displays of homosexual behavior, they say their rights are being violated. If a child is told to turn his profanity-laced T-shirt inside out at school, his parents say his rights are being violated. When a school teacher sees ultra-violent tendencies in the writings of a student, it would violate their rights to suspend them. If an airport screener singles out a person dressed in Muslim attire to search, that’s racial profiling and violates their rights. We are obsessed with our rights. We demand our rights in every aspect of our lives. We demand our political rights. We demand our economic rights. We demand our medical rights. We demand our rights at school. We demand our rights at home. We demand our rights at church. But one of the biggest places we demand our rights is at work. As Christians we have certain rights in the workplace. And we have every right to demand those rights. As a matter of fact, we need to be obsessed about those rights. As obsessed as our culture seems to be with all its rights. In the passage we’re looking at this morning, Paul continues on the topic of submission that he introduced in 5:21. He does so by looking at the master/slave relationship. Of course we don’t have many masters and slaves in America today. At least we don’t call them that anymore. But the same exact principles apply to the boss/worker relationship in our jobs. Whatever our workplace is, we all have a boss/worker or as this passage puts it, a master/slave relationship. Whether you are a boss or a worker, a student or a teacher, a homemaker, self-employed or retired—whatever your station in life, you are either a boss or a worker. And as a Christian boss or worker, you have rights. This morning, I want each of us to leave this place ready to insist on our rights in the workplace. In order to do that, we’re going to look at four rights every Christian should have in the workplace. The first right is the right heart. Look with me in verses 5-6:
The first right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right heart. When Jesus was growing up as a carpenter’s son, how do you think He worked? Do you think He worked hard only when Joseph was looking? When Paul worked as a tent-maker, how do you think he worked? Do you think he worked hard only when his client was watching him? Of course not. They were obedient to their masters—their bosses. Notice what has happened in our text over the past few weeks. Back in 5:21, Paul introduced the idea of all Christians submitting to one another. And over the last three passages, he expands on that idea. He describes what submission looks like in our day-to-day existence. He explains how we are supposed to submit in our everyday relationships. He started with our closest relationship—marriage. That is also the most balanced submissive relationship we have. Marriage is pure mutual submission under the husband’s headship. Obedience isn’t even mentioned. Then Paul moved to the next closest relationship we have—the parent/child relationship. Obviously, the submission in the parent/child relationship is less balanced. Here, he first introduces the word obedience and only alludes to submission. Parents submit to the Lord and to the child’s needs, but children obey parents. Now, he moves to the most unbalanced relationship—the master/slave or boss/worker relationship. Here he doesn’t even allude to submission between each other. It’s all about obedience. The only submission in this relationship is between both parties and Christ. So, in that light, what does it mean to obey your boss with fear and trembling? The word that’s translated “fear” is where we get the word “phobia” from. And the word that’s translated “trembling” is where we get the word “trauma” from. Have a phobia about not obeying your boss. It should be traumatic to think about not being obedient in the workplace. Now, does that mean that we are to go around shaking in our boots in fear of our bosses? I’ve had bosses like that, but that’s not what this is saying. What it is saying is our heart has to be in the right place. Why are you working? I can’t count how many people I’ve heard say that the only reason they’re working is for the insurance. To put it in the context of verse 5, that would be like saying, “the only reason I’m a Christian is for the benefits.” We are to be obedient in the workplace because God has placed our bosses in authority over us. Romans 13:1 says: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” All power that be are ordained by God—even the powers that be in the workplace. Our fear and trembling isn’t because they are anything special. It isn’t because of how good or bad they are. It’s because of how awesome God is. And because we recognize that God is the one who put them in position over us. Understanding that allows us to do the work that we do. Not to impress them. If we do our work to impress the bosses, then what happens when we don’t get recognized? What happens when we don’t get the promotion we think we deserve? We lose heart and lose the desire to work as hard. When we do our work for eye-service or to be man-pleasers, we don’t have the right heart. But when we sincerely do our work to the best of the ability God has given us, we are doing God’s will. Then our work becomes our service to the Lord. The first right we have in the workplace is the right heart. The second right is the right attitude. Look in verse 7: