Summary: God is just as concerned for Wall Street ... and the "Wall Street" of every community ... as He is for the street that runs in front of the church.
Imagine a father offering these words of advice to his new college graduate, who is seeking a job:
I want you to know it's a jungle out there.
College has been a cake-walk.
From now on, you'll be in the real world.
The language is money. And it talks loudly.
The goal is to get as much as you can, anyway you can.
Just don't get caught.
If you do, simply say that you did it for the company.
Now, go for it! Reap success!
Such fatherly advice would have caused Paul to cringe had he been present.
Paul had convictions about the Christian and his or her work.
These convictions were based on the premise that the lordship of Jesus included the workplace as well as the worship place.
God is just as concerned for Wall Street ... and the "Wall Street" of every community ... as He is for the street that runs in front of the church.
This truth means that God is concerned about management, employees, wages, profits, working conditions, sexual harassment, strikes, unions, and downsizing.
In other words, God is concerned with whatever affects the workplace.
And for good reason.
Our work consumes the best of our time, energy, and commitments.
Smart companies today realize that fundamentally they are in the people business.
The products they sell and the services they provide have people as their targets.
But more important, the creation of the products and services themselves depend on people.
Without good working relations between management and labor,
companies don't build cars, trucks, and mini-vans;
don't produce aluminum products;
don't build an airplane, fill an airplane, or land an airplane.
Without cooperation of management and labor,
our economy would simply bog down.
Basically, Paul addressed the two fundamental relationships of the workplace.
The Worker's Response to Management
"Slaves be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ" (or as you obey Christ) (6:5).
Slavery was prevalent in the Roman Empire during Paul's time.
It is estimated that there were 60 million slaves.
Roman citizens considered work to be beneath their dignity.
So, practically all work was done by slaves.
Basically, the life of a slave was grim and terrible.
According to the law, the slave ... male and female ... was not a person but a thing.
It was universally accepted that the master possessed the power of life and death over the slave.
In essence, Paul does not seek to abolish slavery.
Any attempt to do so would have been suicidal for the Christian community.
Rather, Paul transformed slavery with his call for a Christian response in slave-master relations.
Granted, Paul is describing the Christian relationship between the slave and his master.
However, these principles can be applied to corporate America, including labor-management relations.
We need to examine these principles in detail and then put them into practice.
In verse 5-8, Paul defines the employee's responsibility to management.
Believe in your work
With imperative force, Paul urged the slaves to obey their masters.
Literally, the word "obey" (6:5) means to hear under or to listen to the one in authority.
Such obedience was expected of the slave, for the slave was the master's property.
In our present-day economy, such an exhortation refers to the willingness of the worker to affirm the vision and mission of the company where he or she works.
The reason many businesses fail is that corporate leaders either have not developed a vision,
have lost the vision, or, if they have a vision,
have failed to convey it to the workers.
Not knowing the vision or mission of the company, the workers cannot commit to it.
Too, sometimes corporate leaders have the company's vision and mission written down on paper, but they don't "walk the talk."
Their behavior makes it impossible for employees to believe that the lofty ideals of the mission statement represent the real mission of the company.
To obey means to agree with or to buy into the mission of the company.
It means to believe in the company's direction and in management's leadership of the company in that direction.
"With fear and trembling" (6:5) is the identical phrase Paul uses in urging the Philippian church members to work out their own salvation (Phil. 2:12).
"Fear and trembling" does not mean a paralyzing fear, but an existential feeling of serious and deliberate decision in forming a commitment.
In other words, you do not work flippantly.
Rather, you ponder and pray, and seek God's guidance.
The job is to be performed with "sincerity of your heart" (6:5).
Complete loyalty, not divided loyalty, is requested of the worker.
Talk to just about anyone in the work force today and you hear a constant theme,