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:


The second right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right attitude. Once again, Paul brings out the idea of doing our work as service to the Lord and not to people. But this time he adds the idea of doing it with good will. Good will is one word in the original and it carries the idea of zeal, eagerness. Doing your service enthusiastically—with a whole heart. It’s an attitude word. Do you know that no matter how bad I tell myself things are, they will never seem any better? Have you ever met those people who never have a positive word to say? They remind me of the Winnie-the Pooh cartoons. Do you remember the character Eeyore? Eeyore was this little stuffed donkey who was always a gloomy gus. Tigger was his complete opposite. Tigger was so enthusiastic that he drove everyone around him crazy. But Eeyore was depressing. If the sun shined—it was too hot. If it rained—it was too wet. He could always find the dark cloud inside every silver lining. Is that how we’re supposed to act? Of all people, why should Christians be gloomy? We are the only ones who have hope! Of all people, we should be eager about doing our work. If I don’t get paid what I think I ought to—guess what? Jesus has saved me! If my work is hard and the boss isn’t too nice—guess what? I’ve got a home waiting for me in heaven! If conditions aren’t great and work is hard and hours are long—guess what? I have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe. I can talk to Him and He cares about me and He loves me. Hallelujah! If that can’t make you have a good attitude, I don’t know what will. But why is it important to have good will in our service? Why is the right attitude so important? Chuck Swindoll has a very famous quote that I used to carry around on a card in my wallet. He said: “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes.” Attitude reflects our confidence in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we truly believe that God is in control, that will affect our attitude. If we truly believe that Jesus cares for our every need, that will affect our attitude. If we truly believe that in and of ourselves, we have no rights—if we truly believe that Jesus is the only One who has any rights at all—and when we’re saved, He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness—that will affect our attitude. And our attitude will affect those around us. If we as Christians are always walking around like Eeyore, who in their right mind would want what we have? If a pagan is acting like Tigger and a Christian is acting like Eeyore, I think most folks would choose to hang out with the pagan. Now, I realize there are lots of people around who make it very difficult to have the right attitude. That’s why Paul says that our attitude is as to the Lord and not to man. People will always disappoint us, but God never will. He is always faithful and is a steady rock we can anchor our attitude to. Because God is faithful, every Christian should have the right attitude in the workplace. The second right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right attitude. The third right is the right reward. Look with me in verse 8:


The third right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right reward. When I was in the Air Force, they had a very extensive awards program. They had quarterly awards and annual awards and special awards and medals and ribbons and all kinds of recognition for good service. And the way it worked was, all of those kinds of recognition figured in your annual performance rating. And your annual performance ratings figured in promotions. So, you could always tell when some people were getting close to their annual performance rating time. All of a sudden they would do all kinds of good stuff. And they would do it very publicly. They wanted everyone to know what they were doing so they would get recognized. As a supervisor, of course I could see right through them. It is obvious to anybody who is paying attention when someone does something just to get recognized. So if it’s so obvious to us, don’t you think God can tell? Don’t you think He can tell when we do things just to try to garner favor with Him? Maybe that’s why Jesus said what He did in the Sermon on the Mount. Turn to Matthew 6. All through the first 18 verses, Jesus warns His listeners about doing things to get recognized by men. He starts with giving. Don’t give to be praised for it. If you do, that’s all the praise you’re going to get. Then He moves to prayer. Don’t make a mockery of prayer by using it as an opportunity to be recognized by people. If you do, that’s all the reward you get. Then He moves to fasting. Don’t go through your spiritual disciplines so that people will recognize how pious and holy you are. If you do, your reward is limited to some hunger pangs and some flattery. Nothing eternal. So, thinking along those lines, back in the context of our passage in Ephesians, what reward do we seek in the workplace? Do we work so we can climb the corporate ladder? To we work to get a raise? Do we work to get employee of the month? In the context of school, do we work to get the best grades so we can get on honor roll? Do we work at home so our neighbors and friends can compliment how nice our yard looks? Do we work at church to be recognized by other people? If we do, that’s it. That’s all there is. I have a whole box of plaques and certificates and trophies at home. Notice I said box. Because that’s where they all are—in a box in the garage. Those things that seem really important when they’re happening really just fade away into insignificance. Did you ever get a trophy for playing sports in school? It seemed really significant at the time, but how significant is it now? Don’t get me wrong. We can all be happy for those things when they happen. But if that’s all we’re working for, we’re in trouble. Because we need to be working for eternal rewards. When we work with the right heart. When we work with the right attitude. Whatsoever good thing any man doeth. He will receive eternal rewards. Remembering that whatever work we do, in the end, we really only have an audience of One. And He is watching. And in the last day, if you are a Christian He will judge your work. Not to determine your salvation—He already paid for that on the cross of Calvary. But He will judge your works to see if they were worthless. Or if they were worth an eternal reward. The third right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right reward. The fourth right is the right perspective. Look in verse 9:


The fourth right every Christian should have in the workplace is the right perspective. Look at how the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to start this verse. Masters, do the same. That means that if you’re the boss, God expects you to have the same heart that He expects from workers. A heart that recognizes the fact that God is the one who put you in that position. And He put you in that position to bring Him honor and glory—not yourself. It means that if you’re the boss, God expects you to have the same attitude that He expects from workers. A positive, enthusiastic, encouraging attitude that makes it a joy to work for you. When they mess up, discipline them. But do it in a spirit of humility and love. Recognize the fact that you are a representative of Jesus Christ to your workers and treat them as such. It means that if you’re the boss, God expects you to have the same reward that He expects from workers. Work as if you’re working for Him and His reward. That will keep you from using your employees as a way to make you look good. But how can you do that? If you’re a worker, how can you have the right heart, attitude and reward? If you’re the boss, how can you have the right heart, attitude and reward? The only way is to have the right perspective. As a worker, you might be immediately accountable to the boss. But who are you ultimately accountable to? As the boss, you have bosses you are accountable to. But who are you ultimately accountable to? As a student, homemaker, retiree—who are you ultimately accountable to? You are accountable to your Master in heaven. And all are equally accountable before Him. Everybody on the face of this earth has one ultimate boss. And that is the boss before whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. If Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of your life, your judgment will be a judgment of works unto reward. Your works will be tested to see which ones are of eternal value. Your worthless works will be burned up as wood, hay and stubble, but you will be saved, though as by fire. On the other hand, if Jesus Christ is not the Lord and Savior of your life, you will face a different judgment. Your judgment will be a judgment of works unto salvation. Your life will be held up and compared to the perfect life of Jesus Christ. And it will fall miserably short. And when it falls short, you will be condemned eternally to a place of utter torment. A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth called Hell. God is no respecter of persons. All stand equally guilty before Him. The only thing that removes that guilt is the applied blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. All stand equally before God in need of a Savior. Whether you’re a boss or a worker, wealthy or a beggar—you are in need of a Savior. And that Savior is God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Whoever you are, your Master stands in heaven. He is no respecter of persons. And He waits for you to turn from your sins and turn to Him. Turn to Him today.