Summary: How we behave at work says a lot about our faith to those around us. It also says a lot about our attitude toward worshipping God. How to make our workplace and our worship work together.
OPEN: During the middle 1800’s there was a popular set of rules for the office that showed up in one form or another across the nation. They all resembled something like these which were posted in Zachary Geiger’s establishment:
1. Office employees will daily sweep the floors, dust the furniture, and showcases. Each day they must fill lamps, clean chimneys, & turn wicks
2. Windows must be washed once a week.
3. Each clerk will bring in a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s business.
4. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle your nibs to your individual taste.
5. This office will open at 7:00 am and close at 9:00 p.m. daily, except on Sunday, on which day it will remain closed. Each employee is expected to spend Sunday by attending church
and contributing liberally to the cause of the Lord.
6. Men employees will be given an evening off each week for courting purposes, or 2 evenings a week if they go regularly to church.
7. After an employee has spent 13 hours of labor in the office, he should spend the rest of his time reading the Bible any other good books while contemplating the glories and building up of the kingdom.
8. Every employee should lay aside, from each pay, a goodly sum of his earning, so that he will not become a burden upon the charity of his betters.
9. The employee who has performed his labors faithfully and without fault for a period of 5 years
in my service, and who had been thrifty and attentive to his religious duties, is looked upon by his fellowmen as a substantial and law-abiding citizen, will be given an increase of 5 cents per day in his pay providing a just return in profits from the business permits it.
APPLY: How many of you would enjoy having a job like that? (no one raised their hand).
Can you imagine working under those conditions?
Can you imagine being happy in that type of atmosphere?
Could you imagine living in a world where you had no choice in the matter?
Well, back in the days of the Colossian church… that’s pretty much how the “workforce” lived
The primary workforce was composed of slaves
o People who were owned by others,
o Who had no personal property
o Who had no control of their destiny
o Who did pretty much what the slave owners desired
Now, in our day, we don’t have slaves and slave owners… but we have something that many believe is a lot like it. It’s called labor and management. You go into any workplace in the nation and you’ll hear people talking about their bosses as being “slave drivers” and you’re run across people in management who think of their employees as little more than slave labor.
Now, while there are distinct differences between the life of a slave and that of a laborer in our day, the principles that Paul laid down for the behavior of workers and owners still holds true today for bosses and laborers today.
I. First – let’s consider the owner, or the boss, or the person in management
To you, Paul writes: “provide your (employees) with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven” - Colossians 4:1
Now, I don’t know if there’s anyone here who is in a management position… but I do know, it’s not always an easy job
ILLUS: My brother Jack is a vice-president for a company out East that makes aircraft engines. At one time, one of their principle customers was the US government. But, because of budget cuts, his company lost business. When they lost that government contract, they made fewer engines… and thus they needed fewer workers. That meant some of their work force had to be let go. And, it fell to my brother to decide who would be fired.
My brother struggled with those decisions because each man who was fired had bills to pay and a family to support. He realized he wasn’t just cutting “costs” – he was responsible for the possible ruination of the lives of each of those workers.
BUT the decisions had to be made. It came down to a choice of whether the company shut the doors (and everyone lost their jobs) or if a portion of the workers lost their jobs and others could still support their families. Despite that reality, my brother had nightmares over the decisions he had to make.
Being a manager, or the owner of company isn’t always an easy job, because many of the decisions you have to make effects the lives of the workers in your factory or your office.
Now, the problem that Paul is addressing here in Colossae is that of the slave owner (manager or the boss) who forgets who they have a responsibility for. He is warning against forgetting the value of the people he is responsible for.