Sermon Notes 07
We have been walking through Colossians 3, and we notice something striking. Paul begins in vv. 1-4 talking about our individual relationship, one-on-one, with Jesus. “If you are raised…seek…set…” and live this way.
But what we see as the chapter continues is that walking with Jesus is not JUST walking with Jesus. We have relationships that must be paid attention to, and some of those are our “closest” neighbors-our family.
We were challenged by the words of Colossians 3:5-9 which exhort us to “strip off” the old behaviors and customs we practiced while living as “dead men walking.” Now that we are alive in Christ, we have “new clothes” we are to put on.
But if you look carefully, you see that the ethic that Paul lays out for those who have been raised in Christ move from our personal and inner moral purity outward to how this connects to others.
Chapter 3:15-17 talks about how we related in the church as we “let the peace of Christ rule” and “the Word of Christ indwell” us. And then how we are to honor the Name of Christ above all.
As Chapter 3 continues, we travel next to some needed conversation about how the “new family” looks in Jesus. If we have been raised, this should first of all and perhaps MOST of all affect how we live out family relationships: Marriage, parenting, and relating as children to parents, and even in our employment.
A Word to Husbands and Wives
Our culture, due largely to the impact of the postmodern philosophy that has torn the West apart over the last two or three decades, is now witnessing the tearing down of traditional structures of society like marriage.
Marriage has been moved away from its Biblical moorings and is now adrift in isolation. We are left to our own devices in trying to make sense of this basic relationship in human societies. And what we have come to, in the thinking of our culture, is the belief that marriage must exist, as everything else does, for our enjoyment and as something we should use to find personal satisfaction and joy and meaning in life. In other words, it is a commodity to be enjoyed or disposed of as the whim hits us.
When we pervert God’s good and sacred gift of a man and woman becoming one, what we end up with is an aberration of marriage that cannot stand. It is a testimony to the power of this relationship that, in spite of our attempts to unravel and redefine it and nullify it by cohabitation, still exists as a primary and important relationship in our culture.
But if we’re honest, we don’t really know why. So we blindly seek to “make it work” and “hammer it out” as best we can. The danger I am seeing is not simply the abandonment of our definition that it belongs to a male and female partnership, but the deconstruction of the marriage relationship as a place for us to go to lose ourselves in love and service to the other. This is a problem for heterosexual couples.
Until we come back to the understanding of marriage in the way God intended it in Genesis 1 and 2, we will continue to drift further away and flail and flounder trying to find ground to stand on. Maybe “flailing” and “floundering” describes your experience with marriage.
The other issue I see often today is that, even though two people are male and female, in love, and claim to be Christ-followers; their marriage often doesn’t reflect that. In other words, even when we get the gender issues right, we still haven’t gotten back to the heart of the issue.
Our missionary brothers and sisters are quick to remind us that, when people in the culture they serve come to know the Lord, it is some time before their marriage begins to reflect the Christian understanding of this God-ordained institution. This is an issue since they continually struggle to find marriages that can “mentor” new believers away from their old cultural understanding into the new “risen” life.
A few years ago, our church went to Dubai and held a retreat for 155 missionaries serving in the Red Sea region. We used a retreat center that was located on the Indian Ocean, and were in beautiful accommodations.
Across the street from the main center was a series of bungalows designed for visiting sheiks who would come and need accommodations for ALL of their wives (usually five or six) and their maid. They all required their own rooms. They served us well as space for our Vacation Bible School being offered to the missionary families!
I met an Emirate sheik while there; a young man wealthy beyond our definition of the word, and he was accompanied by his six burkaed wives. We only had a brief time to converse but it left me to image what would happen if this Arabian “rich young ruler” actually came to Christ. How would this affect his family life? He could not continue in relationship with six women, but divorcing them would ruin their lives socially. What would I say to him? And how long would it be until his new faith began to impact his “old clothing” of a Middle Eastern marriage with multiple wives?
Yet even among western Christians, there are many seeking to follow Jesus in the risen life but it has not yet affected how they see their marriage. It is a problem for us as well, in the USA. Maybe it also is for you.
It was certainly a pressing issue for the Colossian believers. The radical things that Paul was saying in this letter would have rocked most of them. It would not be hard to imagine that this was the first instruction most of them had received on the subject of how to live out their faith at home now that they were believers.
A Risen Marriage: The Christian Wife
Paul’s words, though separated from the original context, were incredibly elevating. We do not appreciate fully the radical nature of these thoughts. Though his statement begins, “Wives, submit to your husbands,” which the culture of that day would have also demanded, he turns things on their head with the next statement, which said “Husbands love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (v. 18)
So this sets the stage for an upending of social conventions of his day. The same words have a similar impact on us today. In this text, the grammar of the sentence is making the wife’s submission a voluntary act, “as is fitting (proper) in the Lord.” This was not something to be held over her by social conventions, or forced on her by physical threat, or enforced on her by strength but was in reality a beautiful act of obedience to Christ.
Submission is an inflammatory word in our modern culture. It has to do we hear, by our definition, with a person being demeaned by an individual or system. This seems like anything but a radically freeing and fresh thing for women, but if it doesn’t seem like that it is because we are missing the point.
Again, Paul is returning drifting marriages to their moorings. He is anchoring the Biblical teaching of marriage back to the Creation account. Bruce says, (Paul) “does hold that there is a divine instituted hierarchy in the order of creation, and in this order the place of the wife comes next after her husband.” (NICNT)
That is not to suggest that women are created as inferior beings either spiritually or naturally. There is hierarchy, yet equality in the Trinity. Jesus is simultaneously equal to the Father and yet submissive to Him. (Hughes, Colossians) In the same way, equality and submission can beautifully co-exist in the same relationship, including marriage.
The idea of submission is repulsive to our me-first, flesh-exalting nature. Every time we encounter it, we run from it or seek to vilify the person using the word.
In our efforts to eliminate this word from the Biblical narrative on family and marriage, we have moved to the opposite extreme. And yet it takes only a few moments to catalogue in your memory the times in life you have “gotten creative” with what God clearly proclaimed and “done it your own way” (as my three-year-old granddarlin’ is fond of doing). And when she gets her own way, the problem she thought she could solve is made only more complicated.
Sometimes, when it is obvious that we have messed it up so bad, we have to return with our heads hung with the pieces of our life, our broken marriage, our frustrated relationships, back to the One Who does know how to fix it. When we have wrecked our lives with “do-it-yourself” fixes in sexual relationships, or when we have run our financial ship aground through ignoring the clear counsel of God’s Word on money, then we come to God with the pieces to fix them His way.
When we can finally admit that how we’re doing our relationships is broken and not working, then we come back to God with the pain and the pieces and say, “Please fix it.” And the first word we encounter in all of the Bible’s relationship advice is “submit.” “Be (willingly) in submission.”
That’s hard, and humbling for our flesh to take. In fact, it crucifies our flesh. It kills us. And then, when we are dead in this area, we can begin to “live risen” in our relationships.
Now again, this is not counsel to grab your wife and force her to submit to you. But there is nothing servile and menial about a wife who will willingly submits herself to a husband who loves her.
I’m not writing a relationship manual here, but I can hear some saying, “Yes but…”. “My husband doesn’t love me. He said so.” Or, “my husband is not a believer. What do I do?” Or worse, “My husband is already beating, abusing, or physically hurting me.” (To this last I would say WHY ARE YOU STILL IN THE HOUSE WITH HIM??)
But to the others, we need to remember that God’s Word is not circumstantial ethics, not limited to one historic era, and not culturally constrained. Your circumstances, while difficult, are not unique. They are not the first time these words have been spoken into a relationship with an unloving or uncaring spouse, or even into a household where one spouse is not a believer.
My counsel would be this. If your husband doesn’t love you, you will not make him fall in love with you by being arrogant and aggressive and angry toward him. While your flesh will be happy that you are asserting yourself, you will lose the war while winning the battle. Men just do not fall in love with women who seek to lead them or rule the household. Sadly, many women try to do this.
And men who are not believers need to see, in a way they cannot avoid, a transformation in their wife that involves this submission. We must remember that our submission is FIRST to the Lord, and then to your spouse. Don’t forget that. Your obedience to the Lord in this honors Him first by your willing trust in Him to change your husband’s affection toward you, or ultimately to see his heart turn to Jesus because you obeyed. (It may help to read 1 Peter 3 and see what the Bible says there about living with an unsaved husband).
A Risen Marriage: The Christian Husband
The exhortation which follows for the husband in 3:19 seems almost obvious. “Well, of course the husband should love his wife!” Yet as William Barclay reminds us in his commentary,
Under Jewish law, a woman was a thing; she was the possession of her husband, just as his flocks, or house or material goods were. She had no more legal rights than his flocks or herds….under Jewish law, a husband could divorce his wife for any reason or no reason, while the wife had no rights whatsoever to initiate divorce. In proper Greek society, the woman lived a life of total seclusion usually in a separate residence to her husband. She never appeared on the streets alone, not even to go to market. She would not join her husband for meals. From her there was demanded a complete servitude and chastity; but her husband could go out as much as he pleased, and could enter as many relationships outside of marriage as he pleased with no social stigma. In both Jewish and Greek culture, the privileges belonged to the husband and the duties belonged to the wife.”(Barclay)
In other words, love played no part in the transaction and relationship of marriage in Jewish and Greek culture in Biblical times, let alone the radical call to love the husband was issued to demonstrate in this verse. Further the husband was enjoined “do not be harsh with them.”
Lohse confirms that such a command does not occur in any extra-Biblical material of the day. It was a “new command” for a man who was a new creation in Christ. It was an ethical demand beyond any scope of thought in that day.
The love that men were called to show their wives was not erotic love, or even simply friendship love. It was self-denying “agape” love, which meant the husband was to care for and serve his wife as he sought her entire well-being, providing for and protecting her. It is a love that does not originate in the self-centered, broken heart of humanity. It was a love that must first be received from a Divine wellspring: The heart of God.
This love is like the love with which Christ loves His bride, the church. Ephesians 5:22-33 carries this further than the Colossians passage, but both were written from the same place at the same time.
1). The love of Christ was intimate.
The Biblical idea of “two becoming one flesh” is a deep and true picture of what marriage does. It causes one to enter the other, as portrayed in the act of physical intimacy, and share life mutually, one with the other. There is a sense in which a man can enter his wife’s emotional and mental processes as he comes to know and love her more deeply. He can enter into her spiritual life. All of this binds the two together as one, which is the truest description of Biblical marriage. The husband is called to love his wife “as his own body.” This also demonstrates to us the depth of our Savior’s love for His bride, the church, to the degree that He calls it “His body.”
Practically, these things mean we must spend time together. The best marriages are also growing and deepening friendships. While it may not have begun as that, it should certainly move toward it. Second, we need to listen to our wives. Howard Hendricks said that marriage is sometimes the “dialogue of the deaf.” We don’t listen to what the other is saying, even though marriage is indeed a lifelong conversation. Men can sometimes check out before they have heard their wives. There’s a reason it’s called “paying” attention! Effort is required. The Harvard Business Review has estimated that 65% of a successful executive’s time should be spent in listening. As the Proverb says, “He who speaks before listening—that is his folly and his shame.” (18:13). It’s probably not accidental that it uses the masculine pronoun with that proverb!
2). The love of Christ was sacrificial
Part of the issues confronted by our Western culture today is our radical individualistic mindset. We think of ourselves: “I” “me” and “mine” are the pronouns we are most often comfortable with, leaving little room for “the other.”
This impacts most of all our homes. Our marriage relationships have changed from a relationship that was entered into for the best interest of the community as a whole. Marriages were arranged between families for the good of the family and the whole community.
As societies became more “portable,” the mindset of marriage was focused on smaller family units, and centered often on child rearing and raising. The good of marriage was seen as for the good of the smaller family unit, with little regard for the larger family system.
Then, marriage became about the husband and wife. Numerous books and marriage manuals appeared to help husbands and wives “maximize” their experience is marriage, and the thought of procreation may not have had anything to do with the marriage at all. Everything was considered “what was in the best interest of the couple.”
In recent years, marriages have become drastically bride-centered. The community is often not considered, and the church is basically a backdrop for the inordinately priced wedding photography. The center of all attention and, for that matter, all concern with weddings now is the bride.
Along with that, we have seen couples become more and more focused on their personal fulfillment in the relationship; their needs, their desires and wants and expectations. When one mate does not fulfill that, they feel entitled to go and find a new one.
Running through all of this was the radical insurgency of the sexual revolution, which has single-handed torn many marriages to shreds. And yet, in spite of this “drift” away from the Biblical foundation of marriage, people still seek something they believe marriage can bring. The problem is that they have forgotten the Creator of marriage!
In such a cultural drift, the idea of love as sacrificial and self-giving is a foreign concept and difficult to accept. The expectation of the culture around them is that marriage, if its “done right” will lead to joy and bliss and continually satisfaction; not serving and sacrificing and self-surrender.
3). The love of Christ died for the beloved.
Perhaps the hardest thing for us to understand in our culture oriented against selflessness is that our purpose is to die. Not die in the sense of throwing ourselves in front of a runaway truck or a speeding bullet. But die daily. Giving ourselves away in little sacrifices that don’t make the headlines, and that maybe only we and God know about. “I die daily,” Paul said. We are to die to ourselves and our needs each day to our wife and family. And as we do, we will find the life and joy that marriage truly can bring…not by seeking and getting our own way, but by dying to it…every day.
A Word to the Children
The children of Paul’s day and, on the whole, throughout the Bible, get very little personal attention in the writings of Scripture. However, here in the midst of a culture dominated by Patria Potestes (“The Power of Father”) children are addressed and required to join the rest of the family system.
The Roman justice system of the day demonstrated one of its cruelest laws by placing absolute power and authority in the hands of fathers. A father could set a living newborn child out to die of exposure or to be eaten by wild animals simply because he did not want a girl (or any child for that matter), or that he did not wish a particular woman (even his wife) to bear the child. It was literally a license to kill the children of Rome without recrimination.
Children found to be deformed or lacking in some physical quality or having some level of special needs would be dispatched without a second’s thought. Children had no legal rights, and were not yet considered “fully” human.
How different the counsel of the Scriptures that elevates the dignity of every child, special needs, mentally challenged, or physically disfigured and calls each “the image of God.” That God has made each child “fearfully and wonderfully” and “knit them together in their mother’s womb.”
This placed a different demand on the parents of the day, and turned a spotlight on the child as one who could add to or detract from the family system. By the failure to obey, the family suffered. By their obedience, the family flourished.
And so children were given a significant role to fulfill. They were to obey. This would have been read in the presence of children old enough to understand the command “obey in everything.” They were probably younger children, still being supervised by parents.
The reason they were to obey was “for this pleases the Lord.” The assumption also was this would have been aimed toward children who knew they were “in the Lord.” It’s not that all the children were not called to obedience. That would be expected and enforced. But the children in mind here are children who understood that their obedience, though sometimes difficult, was a part of their testimony and their service to the Lord, the church, and the Kingdom. They have a responsibility in the family order. “Obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
A Word to the Parents
The Biblical command once again upends the social order of the day by making the relationship between children and parents a mutual one. (Melick, NAC) Paul uses the term “fathers” (as ESV, NIV, etc.) but it was easily interpreted to encompass both parenting roles. Therefore “parents” is an easier interpretation to apply for our purposes.
It is far too easy for us to slip in this important responsibility of parenting. We can over control and become smothering and hovering, raising children who have no confidence in themselves. We can go to the other extreme and bring up children with a harsh hand and raise cowering and unconfident and discouraged children.
Either extreme is wrong. The second error is particularly called out as a danger for parents. “Don’t discourage” your children, Paul tells them. The word used is “embitter,” (erethizow) and means to be overly harsh and to discourage. “Do not be harsh” with your words, your punishments, or your expectations. Once the tender reed of a child’s self-worth is bent and broken, there is often no coming back.
We can over expect too much of our children in obedience, compliance, hard to understand commands, and by often reminding a child they are not good enough. All of these render the child “discouraged” and “embittered.”
I meet many such children in my counseling office and my role as a pastor, but now they are adults. A wounded childhood litters their past, and now they limp through their own failing efforts and raising children successfully. Sadly we tend to repeat sometimes the very thing we despised about our own upbringing!
That is not to be the case in the Lord’s household. Raise your children as the gifts they are. Correct them as their will requires it. Bless them, even when their efforts to obey or please you are feeble.
And as you do, they will grow to be children grateful for your careful hand, and will raise your grandchildren in a way that will thrill your heart!
A Word to Servants and Masters
(LABOR DAY SERMON, 2019)
Working for the Glory of God
So today we salute the American worker. I know that, for some, the very last thing you care to think about on Labor Day weekend is, well, labor. But in reality, most of us have spent, or will spend, the bulk of our adult lives working. You spend between 150-180 hours a month on your job if you work full time. Some of you work more, if you are working two jobs or you own a business (which is like working two jobs)! You may be in a job that makes you thankful to wake up in the morning and get to it. You whistle while you work.
You may feel fulfilled in your work, or frustrated by it. It may be grinding, demanding, demeaning, or draining. It might be fulfilling and exhilarating, and you feel guilty taking a paycheck because you enjoy it so much. (Well, maybe not that much!)
The question is, how do we participate in the rat race without becoming, well, a rat? In other words, what difference does it make for you, as a Christ follower in your business, or on your work crew, or in your profession in how you see your job and the people you work around most days? Does God really care what kind of employee or employer we are, or is our working life just a throwaway…something we endure until we can retire or do something “meaningful” with our life?
One of the things we need to get straight in our thinking about this is why is work even a “thing” we have to deal with? Don’t the smart and fortunate people figure out how to drop out of the race and kick back into a leisure-saturated existence?
Some people think of work, and view work as a punishment, not as a God-given privilege. We are trapped into doing some menial, low-level subsistence job, or maybe we’re trapped by the lifestyle we want to live (or appear to live) and we don’t see a way out until the turn of the next century. Retire? Yeah right. Quit? No way.
Work is dignified by God’s participation in it
So work gets a bad reputation, and we sometimes add to the negativity of it when we complain and criticize our company or employer or employees. Christians somehow have come to believe that work came about as a result of sin.
Adam and Eve blew it in the Garden of Eden, and now we have to roll out of bed at 6 every morning and roll into the office or to our job site. It’s punishment because of sin, right? Many believe that.
But if you read carefully you will see that before sin ever entered the picture God created man, Adam, and put him immediately into the Garden to work it. Sin brought the curse of thorns and difficulty in laboring but God’s original intent was for His creation of male and female to have work.
I’ll take it one step further. When you die and go to Heaven you are not going to lie around on a tempur-pedic cloud all day and sip heavenly iced tea. You are going to be a worker! We are going to be kings, and priests, and rulers of angels and of God’s universe. Doesn’t sound like eternity on a cruise ship to me!
At the same time, God put a limit on labor. “Six days you will labor, but the seventh is a Sabbath…a time to rest for you and your household…animals, servants, and family.” But the emphasis is on “six days of labor.” It was never God’s intention for our work to own us.
Ok I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at the text in Colossians and see what the Bible says about our work.
God is a worker. A part of our need to work comes from being made in God’s image. In fact, Genesis 2:15 tells us that God made man and immediately put him to work caring for the Garden of Eden. Man was born a worker; not a tool for God to use as cheap labor, but a worker who did labor as a part of his makeup as a human being. In fact, only man is charged to occupy “work” in creation; plants don’t work-animals don’t work. God is glorified in our work! He dignified work by doing it Himself.
Now I know all of us, if you’re of working age, have had jobs we absolutely felt were not dignified. They are beneath us. I’ve had a few; I cleaned toilets in an office building. I scraped mortar off of bricks while freezing to death in the winter. I was a clown in a circus. I unloaded hardware and building supplies off train box cars and into warehouses in the summer. I pumped gas back in the days when that was done. I know that every job does not have a built-in glory with it. Some grew up with a strong work ethic. One guy said, “My Daddy only made us work half a day in the family business…and he didn’t care which twelve hours we did it.”
But unless you’re moving drugs for a cartel or robbing people at gunpoint or doing something illegal or immoral, your work is dignified because God created us to work. Work is not punishment for sin. Work was in place before God created a wife for Adam! Sin brought thorns and weeds to our labor, but labor is a necessary and important piece of our reflecting the image of God. Creation: Two kinds of work. Victor Hamilton has written that, in Hebrew, there are two different words translated as “work” or “labor” in the Bible. The first word for “labor” is associated with artistry or craftsmanship; it is highly skilled labor. Artists, artisans, carpenters, skilled labor.
The other word has to do with labor as “back work,” or what we would call “manual labor.” It may or may not take a skill set to do that kind of work. Just show up with a capable body. But when the Bible talks about God working, it uses the second word to describe it.
God associates Himself as a laborer with us, all of the work we do is dignified, whether artisan or laborer; skilled or unskilled. All of it has the potential to reflect His glory since He gave it to us to do.
Work is empty when God is absent from it
But work can be empty when God is absent from it. Probably no one in the Bible had more skill and craftsmanship and wisdom than King Solomon. Solomon was into horticulture, and engineering, and writing books, and poetry, and music. He had accumulated huge sums of money and servants and he used both to build. He designed as an architect. He built huge channels for irrigation of farmland. Today if you visit the Holy Land you can still see some of the pools he built to store water for irrigation. And of course, he built the temple which in its day was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
All of which make your little backyard renovation and new crape myrtle tree look pretty lame by comparison. But here’s the thing. Somewhere in his life between the time of his coronation to the throne and his death, Solomon turned his back on God. He was doing these things with no consideration for the work of his hands pointing to the One Who made him.
His conclusion at the end of his life, a journal in the Bible that we call Ecclesiastes, was that “all the labor of my hands was emptiness.” You can spend a lifetime working and being successful, but if God is absent from your labor it will simply frustrate you with futility at the end. Whatever we live our lives for that is less than God will ultimately frustrate us.
Turning that around, however, when you are working the most menial of jobs, if God is in what you’re doing, it will somehow satisfy you. If we are simply working to spend what we get on ourselves, it will leave us empty and dry. Learn to live beyond your paycheck… (not your means)
Mike Ullman, former CEO of JCPenney, tells of a conversation he had with Starbucks founder Howard Schultz when he was first offered the JCPenney position. Mike had retired from a long and successful career in retail management a few years before and was reluctant to get back into the business. But Schultz said to Ullman, “This opportunity is made for you. They need to put service back into the mission of that company, and you’re the guy to do it.” He didn’t need the money or the recognition, but he agreed to take the role because he saw an opportunity to reorient twenty-five thousand retail employees to seeing that their work matters and that serving their customers is an honorable career. In short, he believed that God called him to a particular position of service.
Work is glorifying when God is the focus of it
The Letter to the Colossians, at the time Paul wrote it in the Roman Empire, was a radical social document. It was unheard of in the literature and writing of that day for a formal letter like Colossians to address women, or children, or the common laborers and even slaves in the empire.
But Paul addresses all three, and spends several verses speaking directly to “bondservants:”
“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
“Bondservants” captures more the sense of the Greek text than the word “slaves.” At the height of the Roman Empire, the people who were considered slaves numbered over 60 million. That was around half of the empire’s population. These were people who had been captured and relocated in war, some who sold themselves or were sold as children to repay debt (hence the word bondservant), and some were made slaves as part of a prison sentence. But on the whole the “slaves” would constitute what we call “the working class.”
They would sometimes live in a household with a family and be a teacher to the children, or a nanny, or household servants who worked in cleaning or yard care; many of these people were highly educated and served as doctors or scribes who worked in libraries or school settings.
They were not always ill-treated but could be legally. Some of their circumstances were difficult, and in 1st Century Rome they were considered as human tools, not human beings. Yet at other times they were valued as members of the family. So Paul here is not addressing people who had no choice about doing their work. A slave, as we understand the term, would not have the options to do what Paul is telling them. These are workers, who worked every day for a living. Those were the ones he told:
- OBEY IN EVERYTHING WITH SINCERITY OF HEART
- WORK HEARTILY AS FOR THE LORD, NOT MAN
- SERVE THE LORD CHRIST
Whether we act on this or not, God has an opinion and a position for you to fulfill. This is particularly something to think about as you are choosing a vocation on the way to college, or declaring a major to finish in. Have you prayed over this decision? There is nothing wrong with choosing careers in finance, or accounting, or business but is it possible God wants you to do something besides make money for you and yours? I’m not saying you’re wrong for being in such a career or wanting to be; I am simply asking for your motivation…and the simple question: Have you asked your Master?
Don’t despise your work, whatever it is. Obey…with sincerity of heart.
Don’t demean your boss, whoever they are. Work heartily, as for the Lord, not man. Your boss may be a bozo, like Michael Scott in the Office sitcom. Your job is not to judge your boss, but to serve the Lord by serving him or her.
Don’t diminish your testimony…you serve the Lord Christ!
“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God!”
And a final word, though very important. It is a word to those who are “masters” or bosses or employers. If you are a person who has oversight of others…a business owner, or CEO, or supervisor or manager…there is also a word for you. It does not say you have to like everyone who works for you or never correct or chastise work that isn’t done properly. But YOU are commanded to “treat your workers justly and fairly.” And you are reminded that you, too, along with everyone else, have another Master Who is overseeing YOU in heaven!
In other words, just as your servants or employees will be held accountable by the Lord for their work, so will you be held accountable for your oversight and supervision. Paul’s example and personal feelings about this can be seen in the Letter to Philemon written at the same time as the Letter to Colossians.
In that letter, Paul appeals to a slave-holder, Philemon to forgive and receive as a brother a runaway slave named Onesimus. While Paul was not advocating slavery, he did advocate that the slaves not be treated as less than family when they were believers. This was an upending of the social order of the day, and eventually much of what Paul wrote in our New Testament letters served as the foundation of slavery’s collapse in Rome and other places around the world since then!
“You have been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God with your body,
which is the Lord’s.”