DUNCAN/The rule of Christ in the workplace
Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians 3:22-4:1. As we look at chapter three, we see Paul applying the principle of the Lordship of Christ in a variety of our relationships. Specifically, Paul addresses our personal piety and walk with God, our relationship to one another in the congregation, and our relationships in our homes and in our family life. In this passage, Paul applies the principle of the Lordship of Christ to how we live and operate in our work relationships. Specifically, Paul gives us four important things to consider. First, Paul says that Christians should do all of their work as if they were doing it for the Lord. Secondly, he tells us that Christians should do all of their work from the heart. Thirdly, Paul says that Christians should realize that their work will be rewarded. Fourthly and finally, Paul tells us that Christian employers should treat their workers with justice and fairness.
I. Christians Should Do All Of Their Work As If They Were Doing It For The Lord.
In verse 23, Paul says “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” In this passage, Paul is bringing to bear the great principle of the rule of Christ which brings freedom. In relation, Christian freedom leads us to certain things. First, Christian liberty strengthens our motive to work. Thus, Paul is saying, “Christian liberty has freed you to work more effectively. It has not lessened your motive for working. You are free in Christ, therefore do your work better than anyone else.” Secondly, Christian freedom frees us from man pleasing. Paul tells the Colossian Christians to obey “not with external service as those who merely please men” but to work “as for the Lord rather than for men.” Paul is concerned that our work not be done simply for the estimation that will be put on it by the one for whom we work. Paul is telling us that our work should be done as if it were before the eyes of God. Thirdly, Paul says that we must “fear the Lord in our labor.” It is to the Lord that we will give an account. We often think of the account that we will give to those to whom we answer on earth. However, Paul tells us to remember the One that we are ultimately to give an account to about our work. He is saying here that work is valued in the sight of God, and that means that our work is valuable. Whatever you do, whatever area of legitimate labor you engage in, it is valued in the sight of God. It has dignity attached to it as you do it well. We live in a day and age where certain professions are honored above others, and yet if you do what you do for the glory of God, it has eternal value in His sight. God cares how you labor and He cares about the way you treat those with whom and for whom you labor.
II. Christians Should Do All Of Their Work From The Heart.
In verses 22 and 23, Paul says obey with “sincerity of heart,” and “whatever you do, do your work heartily.” In these verses, Paul teaches the principle that Christian liberty frees us to work whole-heartedly for those who employ us. In other words, he is saying, “Work from the soul. Throw yourself into this work that the Lord has given to you.” He is waging war against half-hearted service, and is that not the tendency of those who are underappreciated or underpaid? Is it not the tendency to become half-hearted? Is it not the tendency to have a drudging attitude towards the work itself, to not have our hearts in it? Whatever God has called you to do, He wants you to throw your heart into it, to do it as unto the Lord, with sincerity. This, my young friends is why it is so important as you choose your profession to remember that all work is a result of the Lord's calling. Paul is looking for whole-souled service in the workplace, and how we need that in our own day and time.
III. Christians Should Realize That Their Work Will Be Rewarded.
In verse 24, Paul says, “you will be rewarded” and then he adds this phrase, “with the inheritance.” Paul is speaking to bondservants initially here. In the Roman world, bondservants were not rewarded with great remuneration for their labors. They had food and shelter and other basic forms of care, but they were not paid for their labors. But here, Paul says “you will be rewarded with the inheritance.” Now that must have been special to the ears of those bondservants because under Greco-Roman law no bondservant could inherit. Yet Paul is saying, “You will be rewarded with your inheritance.” He was reminding them that they serve the Lord who is in heaven, and He will not fail to give them their inheritance, even if men do not. Thus, Paul here is setting forth the principle of God's remunerative justice which is the principle that God will reward His children's well-doing. Did you know that God cares about your work, and as you do your labors faithfully for Him under the Lordship of Christ, He promises a reward to you? He says, “You will not fail to receive the inheritance which I am preparing for you.” God rewards His children. What an encouragement for us.
IV. Christian Employers Must Treat Their Workers With Justice And Fairness.
In verse 1 of chapter 4, Paul says, “Masters, grant to your bondservants justice and fairness, knowing that you, too, have a Master in heaven.” Paul is reminding us that God cares how we conduct ourselves as employers. He cares that we treat people justly and fairly, and that we, above all people, are seen to be fair and equitable in our practices, both in our business relations and in our treatment of those who work for us. Sinclair Ferguson once said, “Man was made to work, because the God who made him was a working God.” All work has dignity in the sight of God, and He cares about the work that we do and how we do the work that we do. These principles are set down as gospel principles to direct Christians in the way we go about our vocations, and they are universally applicable whether we worship and work in the church, or whether we are working somewhere outside of the church. The rule of Christ brings freedom, and that freedom that the rule of Christ brings, leads us to greater and deeper and richer obedience, not to less obedience in the realm of our work relations. May God, by His grace, help us to do well in our work and so honor the Lord Jesus Christ.