Discovering Your Identity in Christ – A Study in Ephesians – Part 19

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Walking in Harmony – Part III – Honoring God at Work

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”  Ephesians 6:5-9 NIV

At the time these words were penned by the Apostle Paul, the Roman Empire was home to over six million slaves that were subject to brutal treatment because they were viewed by the culture as less than human.  When Paul spoke the following words, it must have shocked his readers:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”

Here are some lessons we learn about walking in harmony and honoring God at work:

1 – While you might not respect the person in authority, God calls you to respect his position because God has put him in your life.  In Paul’s day, master’s thought of slaves as less than humans and as a result, often treated them with great cruelty.

While you might not respect the person in authority over you, Paul teaches that we are to respect the position because God has put him in your life.

2 – Even if you arrive early, stay late, and work hard at your job as unto the Lord – you might still not climb to the top of the corporate ladder because you are not home yet.   Paul reminds the Ephesians that this is NOT there home.  Our goal as Christ followers is not to climb the corporate ladder as much as it is to serve God.

I read about a missionary who returned home after spending forty years in Africa struggling to survive and sharing the Gospel with people.

Also on the ship with him as they returned to the United States was President Teddy Roosevelt, returning from a safari.  When the ocean liner pulled into the docks of New York City, thousands of people were waiting on the President and cheering for him.  Bands were playing.  Reporters were waiting.  And everyone was in awe, “Wow! Teddy Roosevelt killed a rhinoceros and an elephant!”

Seeing the fanfare, the missionary turned to his wife discouraged and said, “You know, I’m a little bit bitter. After two weeks of big game hunting, Teddy Roosevelt receives a hero’s welcome because he killed a rhino and an elephant. We spent forty years in the jungle, laying down our lives to help people, and no one’s here to welcome us home.”

The next day, the missionary’s wife noticed that her husband seemed to be in much better spirits.  She asked him what led to the change.  “I prayed,” her husband told her, “and God said you’re not home yet.”

3 – You are not a slave to your boss… but you are a slave to Jesus Christ.  If Jesus has placed you where you are and has given someone authority over you, remember that you are not called to be a slave to that person, as Jesus was not a slave to Pilate.  However, we are slaves to Jesus Christ, which means we are called to faithfulness to Him wherever we may find ourselves.

Could it be that at your job or school, God has placed you where you are at so that a co-worker, classmate, or colleague would be able to see something special in you?  Could it be that God had strategically placed you in a place where He can make His glory known?  Paul didn’t see himself as a slave to Rome or as a slave to depression.  He didn’t see himself as a slave of the prison guards or of Caesar.  Paul reminds us that we are slaves to Jesus Christ.  Remember you are not a slave to your boss or co-workers, but you are a slave to Jesus Christ.

4 – Bosses need to know that employees are not called to serve you.  You are to serve them. 

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”  Ephesians 6:9 NIV

In the last passage, Paul tells masters that God doesn’t think more highly of them because of their position.  God is not impressed by titles, positions, or credentials.  He is not a respecter of persons.

Holy Spirit empower me to live well in whatever situation I find myself in.  Give me strength to honor You in my workplace.  In Jesus’ name, amen.      

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