Friday, August 29, 2014

Your Job is your calling - Colossians 3:22-4:1

Colossians 3:22-4:1  Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth,not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.
4:1  Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven."

The past couple of posts have looked at several ideas related to how the Christian functions in the work place. 

Viewing one's job as a vocation or calling
We have learned the idea that the jobs in which we work as Christians are to be viewed as a "vocation" or "calling from God" to serve and love one's neighbor as oneself. The context in which we hear God's calling to go and be a blessing is what we call a "station". 

The ability to do one's job comes from the Spirit's enablement or "anointing"
The ability to perform what is necessary to "get the job done so-to-speak" is the anointing power of the Holy Spirit. This "inner anointing" is provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit for every Christian to carry out their jobs with discernment and direction. Today's post aims to take all we have looked at as background information and simply unpack the text of Colossians 3:22-4:1. 

Unpacking Colossians 3:22-4:1 - How your job is your calling
What Paul writes in Colossians 3:22-4:1 is practically spiritual and spiritually practical. As a Christian works hard for the boss for the glory of God, and as the Christian employer provides a safe and equitable work environment where their employees can work and thrive, the authority of God's kingdom is made manifest. Even for unbelievers who either supervise Christian employees or the other way around, there ought to be a noticable difference in the atmosphere and demeanor of the Christ-follower. How can a Christian arrive at better understanding their job as their calling? Two insights drive the text in Colossians 3:22-4:1.

Motivation to do one's job comes from the fear of God.      Colossians 3:23
So why should employees obey their employers? Paul answers this question by noting that: "with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord." The fear of God entails three motivations to drive Christians to be better employees: fear of God as leading to worship, dependance and faithfulness in one's work ethic.

a. Working hard from a heart of worship
When we fear God, it means to possess awe and respect leading to love and obedience. When Paul speaks of employees heeding their bosses, what begins as an obligatory obedience turns quickly into a willing submission. Fearing God has a way of purifying the heart, being that Proverbs 8:13 speaks of fearing God as being the hatred of evil. Whatever we fear the most will shape and mold how we think and act. When an employee is consciously aware that everything they do is in the sight of God, they operate in due diligence, whether the boss is looking or not. 

b. Working hard from dependance on God
The one who fears the Lord also recognizes that without God, there would be no job nor ability to earn a wage. Joshua 24:13 states - "And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat." 1 Corinthians 4:7 notes: "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" The heart that fears God cannot conceive of life without Him and will do all it can to maintain that conscious awareness that the Lord provides everything. Such an attitude guards a person from lapsing into pride and self-sufficiency. Only when the cross is at the center of one's fear of God can dying to self be a reality. 

There is a difference between obedience for the sake of getting a job so as to clock out or just get a paycheck versus putting one's heart into their work and knowing that in working for their employer, they are really working for their Lord. 

c. Working hard in faithfulness to God
Fear of God is vital in recognizing that one's job is a vocation or calling from God to serve Him and to love one's neighbor. In Colossians 3:24 we see reference to the believer's rewards that they will receive at the judgment seat of Christ. When Jesus comes to catch away His bride, the church, there she willl be with him in heaven while the tribulation period is occuring here on earth. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). During that time each Christian will stand before the Lord to give an account of the deeds done during their time here on earth. Included in that will be how the Christian took care of their time at work. 

To lose rewards over a matter like not working as hard as one could or slacking off when the boss was not looking ought to change how Christians work. Why? Because the Christian's heavenly rewards demonstrate faithfulness and they have something to lay at the feet of Jesus who worked for in them the desire to be faithful. (Revelation 4:10) 

So when an employee basis their work ethic on the fear of the Lord, they will come to view what they do as an expression of worship, dependance upon Him and faithfulness to Him. There then is a second motivation for arriving at viewing one's job as their vocation or calling, namely...

The Attitude at one's job is regulated by faith in Christ.   Colossians 3:24-4:1

Look at some of these amazing statements about Jesus in this text: Colossians 3:25 has Jesus being "the Lord whom you serve" and 4:1 calls Him "the Master in Heaven". We must remember that no one can say from their heart Jesus is Lord unless they have the indwelling Holy Spirit in them from salvation. (1 Corinthians 12:3) Employees and employers that have true saving faith will do what they do because of the conscious and willful recognition that Jesus Christ who saved them is also Jesus Christ who owns them. Employers have no right to treat employees unfairly. Why? In the words of one preacher I heard once say: "in Jesus they have been placed out of ownership and put into management." The company and employees under their authority is a stewardship and blessing given by Christ to them to tend for His sake. Likewise employees have no right to be dishonest or lazy. Why? Because even though they do work for their employer, Jesus is the One for Whom they are laboring. 

Truly then it can be said that for the Christian, their job is their calling as they do their work in the fear of the Lord and faith in Him.