27 Jun Colossians #11 – Enjoying Your Job (Colossians 3:22-4:1)
– Howdy, Pastor Mark Driscoll here at The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. Really excited to provide for you the series of sermons based on the book of Colossians. It’s an amazing book of the New Testament where the Apostle Paul is writing from prison to a newly planted church. And we took a few months here at The Trinity Church to go verse by verse through this book of the Bible. I’ve had the honor of preaching and teaching perhaps a few dozen books of the Bible in my career and this is the first time I’ve ever been through Colossians and I’m really excited that you can join me. All right, this is the Bible. I don’t know if you know this, not everybody likes this book. Did you know that? There are people that are critics of this book. They’ll find fault and flaw with it. They’re also opponents of this book who find its central message and teaching to be offensive and outdated and possibly even dangerous. What happens for those who are critics or opponents of the Scriptures, they will find more controversial sections of the Bible. They will read it out of context and then use it as an opportunity to criticize, to take what they consider to be the moral high ground so that we can disregard or dismiss God’s Word and proceed forward with some other ideology. That being said, one of the sections of Scripture, one of the themes of Scripture, that is most often chosen for this task of criticism or opposition are those Scriptures in regards to slavery. And here’s where we find ourselves. I’m a Bible Teacher and I teach through books of the Bible. Much of the time, we find ourselves in the book of Colossians. I didn’t pick this subject, God did. This week, we open God’s Word and the topic of slavery comes up. And the question is: What does God have to say about this institution that existed in history and continues into the present? And what we can do, we could say, “Well, let’s ignore what the Bible has to say.” I don’t think we should do that. “Let’s edit what the Bible has to say.” I believe God wants messengers, not editors. “Let’s apologize for what the Bible has said.” I don’t feel like I need to make an apology for God. I believe God can speak for Himself. And rather than any of these options, what I wanna do, I wanna study God’s Word. Before you render a verdict, what you might consider to be right or wrong, let’s at least give the Scriptures a clear hearing. Let’s let our minds spend a bit of time considering exactly what the Scriptures say and do not say. Before we simply have a surface understanding of what the Scriptures say, Let’s dive deep and see if there isn’t wisdom here for us all and we’ll study it in context. And when we get into this issue of slavery in Colossians 3, some of your translations will say slave and some of your translations, including the one that I’ll use today which is a good literal translation, it’ll use the word bondservant. Okay? So that’s the context. Now, by way of preface let me make a concession and that is anytime we come to these themes in the Bible, they immediately make us uncomfortable because we are looking at them through the lens of American history. We can’t help but look at issues like slavery through our own national experience. In the history of our nation, this is one of the most shameful and painful parts of our entire history. And I want you to know that the Bible was written long before the United States of America. It goes all the way back to the ancient Roman Empire and that slavery as was practiced in the United States of America is spoken of, I believe, both principally and also pointedly in Scripture. So let me hit American slavery first. And it says this in 1 Timothy 1:9-10. The author here is Paul. He’s the same man who writes the book of Colossians that we’ve been studying. And he says, “The Law,” that is God’s Word, God’s truth, God’s decrees, God’s demands, “is made not for the righteous “but for lawbreakers.” People who do evil, people who do wrong, people who see God’s Law and break God’s Law because they do not honor God’s Law. And, in fact, they are rebels, right? They’re following Satan and demons in their rebellion against God. Well, what kind of examples would he give perhaps regarding law breakers and rebels? “The ungodly and sinful, “the unholy and irreligious, slave traders. “And for whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.” And that word there means healthy. That when you understand the Bible, you get healthy emotionally, spiritually, relationally. Then you become a life-giving person and the life of God goes in you, the life of God comes through you. Now you’re a healthy person who has healthy relationships and you’re able to love people and live in peace and harmony with them. That’s the whole point. That’s why the great mega theme of the Bible is love. That love brings sound doctrine, it brings healthy relationships. So here’s what he has to say. That one of the grossest sins is slave trading. This is clear, amen? It’s just right there, slave trading. Slave trading is where someone is free and they are taken captive and made the property of another. That’s slave trading. They’re considered part of the estate, can be bought and sold and traded, and they become part of the inheritance for the next generation. That’s slave trading. That’s exactly what happened in the history of the United States of America. Let me be as pointedly clear as I possibly can. This is immoral, this is ungodly, this is unjust, this is sinful, this is wicked, this is evil, this is inexcusable. Let’s be as clear on that point as we can. And when it comes to American slavery, I’ll tell you some things historically and then I’ll contrast it with bond servants biblically and in ancient Rome. It was almost entirely racial, that’s evil. So much so that certain groups were deemed to only have 3/5 representation, 60% representation, under the law. You cannot arrive at this conclusion from reading your Bible because the Bible says that there is God, there are people made in the image and likeness of God, and then there are animals that people are to rule over. Humility literally means to know your place and according to the teaching of the Bible, we’re under God and we’re above animals. That’s our place. You contrast that with evolutionary thinking. Evolutionary thinking is that there are animals and then there are highly evolved animals that we call human beings. Therefore, there is a continuum between animal and human and some people are less evolved. Therefore, they are somewhere on that continuum. They’re not full human beings but they’re not totally animals, they’re somewhere along the continuum. Evolutionary thinking is what leads to bigotry and discrimination, it just does. That certain people are less fit. That certain people are less evolved. That certain people are less human. As a result, certain people have less rights and are to be less regarded. The Bible doesn’t think this way at all. In fact, it is the teaching of the Bible that creates harmony. It’s the teaching of the Bible that creates equality. It’s the teaching of the Bible that increases the love, compassion, and unity among various and disparate groups of people. That’s God’s Word! And so I get very frustrated when I hear people say, “The Bible is a bigoted book. “We need to be all more advanced.” What, in evolutionary thinking which leads to all kinds of factions and divisions? It’s only God’s Word that sets us free to really value and love one another. And what we understand, therefore, and this is the whole point of the second half of Colossians, we’re to live Kingdom down, not culture up. The culture may have all kinds of opinions but in the Kingdom of God, all the nations and all the races and all the tribes and all the tongues and all the peoples will be gathered around Jesus. He’ll be our King. There won’t be any second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God. All of God’s children will live together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and we are to live Kingdom down, not culture up.
– [Congregation] Amen.
– Okay, and that’s incredibly important. Couple other things about American slavery. You were basically a master’s property and this was a life sentence. So in some of the documents of our Founding Fathers, and I don’t mean to be critical but I do wanna be, you know, I wanna be accurate. It would list, here’s my will. So the land goes to so and so, and my finances go to so and so, and my livestock goes to so and so, and my slaves go to so and so. And the slaves were listed along with the remainder of the household property. And so you didn’t have legal rights. You couldn’t stand before a court and seek justice. Just like any piece of property, you were at the beck and call and in the oversight of your master. So much so that in American slavery, even if you had children, they were part of the estate of the master. So if you had cattle and then they had calves and you have slaves and they had children, all of that was grouped categorically the same as the possession of the master. That’s American slavery. And this is something that was done tragically to God’s people as well. There’s a guy in the book of Genesis named Joseph, he’s one of God’s people. He’s taken as a slave in Egypt. There’s another guy named Daniel. There’s a book named after him. He was taken a slave in a nation called Babylon. These are godless, pagan, rebellious nations. So these things were done historically, tragically, to God’s people as well. Today the cultural equivalent would be something like sex trafficking. That’s probably the closest I think that we have to a cultural equivalency. For example, let’s say it’s a young woman is taken captive, she’s forced into a life of slavery, she is mistreated and abused for the profit and pleasure of others. That would be the cultural equivalent in our day. What does the Bible say about that? Well, it’s law breaking, it’s rebellious, it’s ungodly, it’s sinful, it’s unholy. It’s irreligious, and it’s contrary to healthy doctrine. You can’t get much clearer than that, amen? God’s like, “And just to make sure “you understand how important this is, “let me put in a lot of adjectives for you.” Now let me say this as well, dear American, I love you. I’ll lean over the plate and take one for the team here. We tend to read things like this and say, “Oh, that’s so sad that those primitive people “a long time ago had a category of people “that they did not consider to be fully human “and worthy of human rights.” And we do too, we call them the unborn. We also have a category of people that are not given full rights under the law, they’re not given justice under the law, and they’re treated as property to be discarded and their lives even taken.
– [Congregation Member] Right.
– So you and I need to be very careful. We do not have the moral high ground, we just have a different category of people that we do not extend rights to. They had a problem, we have a problem. Because the heart is sinful and deceptive and wicked and we might change which group we discriminate against, but be sure we have the same problem. So I want us to not look in judgment at them without also looking in judgment upon ourselves. That being said, that’s ancient slavery, that’s American slavery, and I wanna compare and contrast that with ancient bond servants. Ancient bond servants. Paul talks about this, same author as Colossians. 1 Corinthians 7:21: If you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. What he says is, “If you are a bond servant “and you can change your status, do that.” Amen? Get out. Move on, move forward. This is not the state that God has for you. If you can get out, get out. And he says in 1 Corinthians 7:23, “Do not become bond servants of men.” What he’s saying is, “If you are free, “don’t be a bond servant.” What he’s saying is, “This status, this category, “is one that God doesn’t want His people in. “So if you’re not in it, don’t get in it. “If you’re in it and you can get out, feel free to get out.” This tells you God’s indication, His view toward bond servants. How does somebody become a bond servant? For us, we’re going back 2,000 years culturally. We’re peering over the fence into the ancient Roman Empire. How do they do life here? And the ancient Roman Empire was the most powerful nation on the Earth. It was actually a conglomeration of nations. It was a large, vast, geographic area. It was lots of cultures and peoples. What was bond servant in that day? Well, sometimes, and here’s what I’m trying to say. This issue of bond servant, this category sociologically and economically, it’s very complicated because it includes a large number of people. Sometimes you could become a bond servant because you were in debt. This was bankruptcy, essentially. In our day, you declare bankruptcy and then you’ve gotta pay off at least a portion of your debt. In that day, let’s say you wanted to open a business. Any of you guys ever opened a business? Gone in for a loan, right? You’ve decided to buy a home, you go in for a loan. What would happen is you were gonna buy a home, you were gonna start a business, you go meet with somebody who had resources. You negotiate the deal with them and they would ask, “Okay, if you default on your note “what’s the collateral that you put up? “What’s the security?” They would say, “I’ll become your bond servant. “If I default on this note, “I will work for you for 6 years, 8 years, 10 years. “I will work at no charge, I’ll live on your property. “You feed me and I’ll pay off my debt. “Or maybe I’ll even include my family. “We’ll all move on your property. “You feed us and we’re gonna work for 6, 8, 10 years “and that’s gonna be our way of paying you back.” So this was a way of handling debt and, basically, ancient bankruptcy. In addition, another way you could become a bond servant was sometimes the bottom would fall out on your life and there wasn’t a social service net. Or you get sick, you hit crisis, famine hits, right? The bottom falls outta the market, you realize, “I’m upside down, “my family’s on the brink of starvation. “We’ll go meet with someone who’s very affluent. “We’ll negotiate a deal that we move onto their land, “live in their house, eat their food, “in exchange for them taking care of our family.” So this was a way of staving off, you know, some sort of crisis and it was trying to find a better life. Sometimes as well, they would take prisoners in war as bond servants and it was pretty typical. Two nations go to war, the conquering nation takes the men who were soldiers, brings them back, makes them bond servants. And part of the result of their loss would be to work for the nation that conquered them. Sometimes as well, children would be taken as bond servants. In the ancient Roman world it was not uncommon for infanticide to occur. Ancient reports indicate that if you had a child out of wedlock or maybe as a result of adultery or maybe you were a poor family or you wanted a boy or a girl and you got the other, they would literally take the child and they would put it out with the trash. You could consider this. It was the early Christians who started adopting these children because Jesus didn’t have an earthly father, Joseph in fact adopted him. Our God was adopted. And the Bible says that, “Salvation is where the Father in Heaven “adopts us as His sons and daughters,” so Christians started adopting all of these kids. But previous to Christianity, the children literally would be put out sometimes with the garbage or just left to die. And if you came upon one of these children, you could just take it home as property. See, where I live there’s a couple of times a year that everybody puts out all of their old lawn furniture and shelves, and anybody can just drive by and pick it up. It’s a freebie Saturday. It was like this with children in the ancient Roman Empire, just put ’em out on the curb and somebody comes by and says, “I’ll take that one.” And what would happen is then people would take these children and these children would be bond servants. They would be brought home to be part of the estate to work for the person who took them home. Now, if you’re a parent who’s horrified right now, congratulations, you’re paying attention. I mean, you can imagine what do they do to these children? What happens to these little girls? What happens to these little boys? It all depends on who takes them home. And oftentimes, much of the time, most of the time, it was horrific and it was tragic. And so what we’re looking at here when it comes to this ancient category of bond servants, we’re looking at a very wide number of ways that people enter into this category. And also, this was a very large number of people. The ancient historians and archeologists that I’ve read say that the ancient Roman Empire had in its citizen’s rate between 1/3 and 1/2 of all people were bond servants. One report I read said it was as many as 60 million people. Imagine in our country 1/3 to 1/2 of everyone is in this social status, they’re in this class. Some say, “Why doesn’t the Bible just reject it?” Well, because it’s, number one, the Roman Empire and the Roman Empire isn’t going to listen to the Bible. Number two, because some people are in it unjustly but if you were to just remove and eradicate the category, you’d be creating another injustice. It would be like in our day if I said, “Okay, if you give your life to Jesus “you don’t have to pay off your credit card debt, “your school loan, your car payment, “and your house is free.” Oh, look at that, there was a revival, right? Well, then all the non-Christians, they’re holding all the notes, they’re like, “That’s not right. “We lent to you and now you’ve stolen.” And so it’s a very complicated category where some people were absolutely being sinned against and treated unjustly, others it was a business dealing that they had previously agreed to. Now, ancient bond servants as well, some of the ways that it compares and contrasts with American slavery is ancient bond servants was not primarily racial. In fact, all races had slaves and were slaves. So much so that even slaves had slaves, that’s how complicated this status was. You had little to no legal rights. If you had a good master, your life was good. You had a bad master, your life was bad. It was oftentimes not a lifetime status. Many, if not most, were emancipated by age 30 and you could obtain your freedom in most cases. Oftentimes too, sometimes people would wanna learn a trade. They would come from a poor family, they would sign a deal with a master. “I’ll come to work for you for X number of years. “You teach me a trade and then at this age, I am free.” And then they would go and start their business and basically serve as a subcontractor of the one who trained them. So there are all kinds of negotiations that are going on in this category and there were also church leaders who were also slaves. This would’ve been very complicated in the early church because here’s the master, here’s the bond servant, and then you go to church and the master is under the bond servant spiritually in the church because the bond servant is a church leader. There’s a guy in the New Testament who’s a case study of this. He’s mentioned in a few books. His name is Onesimus. He was a bond servant and an early church leader who was widely regarded and respected in the church. And some would say, “Okay, the Bible is a bigoted, “discriminatory, outdated ancient book “because it just doesn’t categorically eliminate “this servant category.” Let me say a couple of things. I hope I’ve explained to you that category of bond servant is really complicated. Number two, just because the Bible says something doesn’t mean the Roman Empire was going to obey it. Christianity at this point is a small persecuted band of people under the rule of the mightiest nation at that point in the history of the world. Thirdly, the Bible doesn’t condone this, it’s just telling people how to live under it. For example, today let’s say there are God’s people, our brothers and sisters in Christ, they’re living in communistic, atheistic nations like China or under the crazy guy who keeps throwing a fit in North Korea. Let’s say you live under one of those. If we’re writing to our brothers and sisters there and we’re telling them how to be faithful to God in an unjust, corrupt political climate that doesn’t mean that we endorse the government. It means that today that’s their reality. Tomorrow, that will be their reality and we want them to love and serve God faithfully in the context in which they find themselves. But principally, what the Bible does here, it puts in motion among God’s people equality, love, respect, so that over time these kinds of institutions fall as more people start to think biblically than think culturally. Now, what this leads to. So this last 20 minutes is my introduction to Colossians 3, okay? So now we find ourselves in Colossians 3. That being said, is there a cultural equivalency when we go from 2,000 years ago, bond servants, to, you know, to today 2,000 years later. Is there any cultural equivalency? The closest, and it is not perfect, but the closest parallel would be the workforce. That you’ve got a boss and an employee. And so what he’s gonna say in Colossians 3, if you wanna make a practical application to your life and mine, the master, that’s management, right? And the servant is the employee. That would be the cultural equivalent. So here’s what he has to say. Godly living under authority, Colossians 3:22-25. “Bond servant,” so there is that ancient Roman category. “Obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, “those who are in authority over you. “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. “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong “he has done and there is no partiality.” So he’s talking here about three kinds of employees. He says, “If you’re a Christian, “your work is part of your worship.” That worship is not just what you do on Sunday in church, it’s what you do every day at work. And in fact, some of you would wonder, “How could I be a good witness? “How could I have a good ministry?” A lot of that is gonna take place on the job. If you’re honest, integrous, hard working, love, serve, do your job at work and they know you belong to the Lord Jesus, your work is part of your worship. Your work is part of your witness. And what he’s talking about here is three kinds of employees that are always a problem. I’ll call them Take This Job and Shove It guy, The Boss Is Coming guy, and Kiss-Up guy. How many of you have worked with these guys? Larry, Curly, and Moe. You’ve worked with these three kinda guys. So the first one is Take This Job and Shove It guy. This is the guy who doesn’t like to obey. This is the guy, he was working for ya and you say, “Hey, I need you to do this.” He’s like, “Not gonna happen,” okay. Or they’re passive aggressive. “Okay,” pffft. You walk away, they’re not gonna do it. And you know they’re not gonna do it. The second kinda person he’s talking about, eye service. This is the person who says, “The boss is coming,” right? Because everybody is not working until the boss comes and then we all pretend like we’ve been working very hard. And then there is the people pleasers. These are the kiss-ups. Anything else I can do boss? What do you need me to do? I’m here to help. How can I make your life better? And you’re like, “You’re a kiss-up, you’re a flatterer.” Any of you worked with these people? They still exist, amen? One of my first jobs I was not a Christian, I lied about my age, I falsified my birth certificate. And at like 16 or 17 years of age, I joined a union and I became a Longshoreman. And my first week on the job I worked with these three guys. Mr. Take This Job and Shove It. So I show up, we’re supposed to unload a railroad car with sacks of peas and boxes and we’re supposed to unload these container ships. And I’m in a union so Mr. Take This Job and Shove It, he is driving the forklift. We called it The Bull. He would not get off the forklift. It’d be like, “Hey, we gotta pick those boxes up.” He’s like, “Yes, you do.” And he would just sit on the forklift all day, I kid you not. He duct taped a cooler behind him with ice and beer. Right? He’s drunk driving a forklift. That’s what he does for a living, with medical and dental benefits which he’s really gonna need, okay? So this guy sits on the forklift all day and if he wants something, he just hits the horn. He will not get off The Bull, we call it The Bull, the forklift. And he literally would just reach back, get a beer, drink it. And he would pull up to the container and he’d be like, “All right, put this stuff on the pallet “and when it’s full I’ll drive it over there.” That’s all he did. I remember first week on the job I was like, “Are you gonna get off the forklift and help?” He’s like, “No.” Mr. Take This Job and Shove It. So at one point, the boss came to this guy and said, “Hey, you can’t be drinking beer on the forklift.” Which seems reasonable. And here’s what he said. He said, “Call my union rep and talk to my lawyer.” Cracked the can, okay, all right, all right, okay, good. He would not have liked this word, obey. His boss would’ve loved it, but he would not have liked it at all. The Boss Is Coming guy. So what happened then, we open up the back of the container and I start pulling the boxes and stuff out and putting it on the pallet for the drunk guy on the forklift and as soon as we get a little space carved out, these guys that I’m working with, they take one of the boxes, put it down. They put two other boxes down. They pull out cash and playing cards. They start playing Poker in the container where the boss can’t see ’em. And I’m like, “What are you guys doing?” They’re like, “We’re playing Poker.” I was like, “Well, we’re supposed to unload this container.” They said, “Yeah, you better hurry.” Okay, so you’re gonna play Poker, he’s gonna drink beer, I’m gonna unload the container. Okay, I just joined a union, I know how this works now. I’m the lowest guy on the totem pole. So they sit there playing Poker and then the third guy is the people pleaser, he’s the Kiss-Up. He’s out there literally sweeping the warehouse and picking things up. He’s doing everything outside of the container so that the boss can see how hard he’s working. The other guys are in the container playing Poker and then this guy’s on the forklift drinking beer and I’m unloading the container. And I thought, “Hmm, this is interesting.” I wasn’t a Christian, I didn’t know there was a verse for it, but I find all of those guys right there. Right? Mr. Take This Job and Shove It, Mr. Don’t Work Unless The Boss Sees You, and Mr. Kiss-Up. What he’s saying is if we are Christians, when we go to work we need to make sure that we’re not one of these people. And if we are, we need to repent. Do you notice it just got quiet? That means some of you are in the room, okay. I just went from preaching to meddling, you’re welcome. Okay, and what he’s saying is that our work is part of our worship and it’s part of our witness. And so he gives some aspects of Christian work. Number one, he talks about our heart. And what he talks about here is he says, “Sincerity of heart.” Let me say this to you, let me back up. We worship a God who worked a job. How many of you have went to work and thought, “I deserve a better job, I wish I had a better boss?” Right, everyone, okay? Jesus Christ is God. God becomes a man. The first 30 years of His life He’s working what kind of job? What was Jesus’ job?
– [Congregation Member] Carpenter.
– Carpenter. Not a lot of prominence. He doesn’t sit on a throne as a political leader, right? He’s not up at the temple, you know, going into the Holy of Holies and offering a sacrifice. He doesn’t run a big company where He has a large income. The first 30 years, God is a construction worker. Goes to work with his dad. My dad was a construction worker. I know what this looks like. My dad would get up really early in the morning and he would put his tools together and he would go to work. And he would work very hard and he would get paid by the hour or by the job. And if he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid. Jesus’ dad was a carpenter. Jesus grew up in a poor rural town. Jesus worked a job as a carpenter. Can you imagine that? How many of you, if you were God and you came to the Earth, you would not work that job? You would not be in Phoenix, Arizona saying, “I’m gonna be a landscaper. “I’m gonna work on a construction crew. “I’m gonna go work for Toll Brothers “and make some really nice homes “and dig pools for rich people.” How many of you would not do that? I would not, just so you know. I’m not saying I’m anymore humble than you. We’re both arrogant. And if I came, I would come on a chariot and people would peel grapes for me and rub my feet. That’s what I would do, right? But that’s not how Jesus does it. Jesus shows up and He goes to work and He works a job. Do you think Jesus ever had a bad boss? Even if He had a good boss, Jesus didn’t have a boss that was worthy of ruling over Him. So when we look at work we have to look at Jesus, kay? And it begins with heart. He says, “Sincerity of heart.” That’s he’s gonna talk about the heart, the head, and the hands of the Christian worker. Sincerity of heart. How many of you have gone to the job and you just know that your heart’s not in it? Just not in it. Then you either need a heart change or a job change. You either need a heart change or a job change. Jesus, when He started His ministry, He had some guys who worked with Him and for Him. One of those guys did not have sincerity of heart. What was his name? Judas Iscariot. What did he do? He stole from Jesus. He was the bookkeeper but he was cooking the books. For the whole of Jesus’ ministry, Judas is stealing from him. Judas is supposed to be helping Jesus accomplish his mission but Judas Iscariot does not have sincerity of heart. He has selfishness of heart. He was not looking out for the wellbeing of the whole, he was only concerned about himself. You and I are supposed to have sincerity of heart like Jesus, not selfishness of heart like Judas. In addition to the heart of work he talks about the head of work. He talks about fearing the Lord and working “For the Lord, not for men.” Here’s what happens. Every organization has a chart and someone is at the top of the chart. And the Christian says, “Actually, above that chart “is another chart and Jesus rules over all.” And so, even if you look up the chain of command at your work, you say, “Well, my boss, “no my boss’s boss is always named Jesus. “My boss’s boss is always named Jesus. “So even if I have a hard time working for my boss, “I can work for my boss’s boss.” High up the food chain, way at the top of the org chart, your company probably doesn’t put Jesus on the top of the organizational chart. But in your mind you need to have Jesus at the top of your organizational chart. I was reading a story some years ago. There was a janitor who was cleaning toilets at a very large, you know, commercial building and he was training someone who was new to the job. And this janitor was a Christian and this janitor would clean the toilets and then would scrub and clean the backside of the toilet that no one would ever see. And when they were training the employee, the new employee said, “Why do you clean the back of the toilets?” He said, “‘Cause I work for Jesus and He sees that too.” So, you know what? I work for Jesus. Someone else might sign my paycheck, but I work for Jesus. And I wanna do a good job because I have a good master. It’s a heart, it’s a head, and it’s also the hands. He says, “Work heartily.” What he’s saying here is, “Work hard. “Do a good job, do your best, pour yourself out.” That, ultimately, you and I should be known by something called the Protestant work ethic which is our God worked and it’s a good thing to work. Which means, and I wrote this down, if you don’t understand your job go to your employee and say, employer and say, “I need clarity. “I wanna do a good job but I’m confused “as to what my job is. “If you could dial me in then I will focus all my efforts “toward producing results.” If you can’t do the job, you need to go to your employer, your boss, and say, “Can I get training?” Or maybe you need to say, “I gotta go find another job “’cause I can’t do this job.” Or thirdly, you just won’t do the job. You’re like, “I hate this job.” Well, then either get a new attitude or get a new job. It’s working heartily, it’s working hard, it’s pouring yourself out. It’s doing your best. And let me just speak on behalf of the employers. There are a lotta people looking for work but there’s not a lotta people like this looking for work, amen?
– [Congregation Member] Amen.
– Like you can trust ’em, they’re not gonna steal, they’re gonna show up on time, they’re gonna do their job, they’re gonna work whole-heartedly, they’re gonna do everything to the best of their ability. And if you want to blow your employer’s mind, just go up to them and say, “I wanna do a better job. “How can I do a better job?” Before your performance review, before you get caught. And if your attitude has not been very great, you can go to your employer and say, “You know what? “I’ve been feeling that I could do a better job. “And I apologize for not producing more and doing better, “and I really need to have an attitude change. “And that’s my fault, not yours. “And I would like to know how I can do a better job “and I want you to tell me what things I could do “to make your life easier.” Two things will happen. Number one, your employer will be grateful. Number two, he’ll have a heart attack, okay? And you’ll have to perform CPR on your employer because nobody asks these questions and nobody acts like that, amen? How many of you are an employer and you’ve never had this conversation? A humble person asking how they can do a better job. This does not happen. But this is the head, heart, and hands of a Christian employee. Now, here’s why. Knowing that from the Lord, you’ll receive the inheritance as your reward, the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done. What he’s saying is this. Over your boss is your boss’s boss, His name is Jesus. In that day, if you were in the category of a bond servant or a slave, you did not have retirement. How many of you’ve got retirement account at your job? Right, if you’re in the for-profit it’s a 401K, you’re in the non-profit, it’s a 403B. It’s a retirement account that you put money into. They didn’t have that. In addition, when you die you can leave your estate, whatever possessions you have, as your inheritance to someone else. A bond servant, a slave, no retirement account, no inheritance. You didn’t own anything and you couldn’t give it to anyone. Here’s what he says. “Jesus has a retirement plan.” How many of you right now are putting money into your retirement plan and you’re looking forward to the day that you cash it in? What he’s saying is, “In addition to that, “look beyond the grave.” Imagine if you had an eternal retirement account. That’d be pretty great. Some of you are just hoping to get 5, 10, 15 years outta your retirement account. Imagine eternity out of your retirement account. This is pretty motivating. Jesus says, “Don’t store up your treasure on Earth “where moth and rust destroy. “Store up your treasure in Heaven.” What this means is you can’t take it with you but you can send it ahead. And if you work whole-heartedly under the Lord, I want you to know this. Because some of you, you’re frustrated, you’re bitter, you’re angry because you feel like, “I got ripped off on that business deal. “Somebody took advantage of me. “They took money that was rightfully mine not theirs,” and you’re really in angst about that. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take that balloon and let it go. Say, “You know what, Jesus? “I give this one to You.” And what Jesus is saying here through this Scripture is, He says, “I am keeping an account. “You haven’t lost anything.” Yeah, they took your money, put it in their account. Jesus says, “But, oh, they don’t know. “I will then make a withdrawal from their account “and I’ll make a deposit in your account forever. “So their taking advantage of you is temporary “and I will set everything right. “I’ll do all the accounting in the end. “You’ll get everything you’ve worked for “and everything that they’ve stolen they will lose.” Do you see that? That’s encouraging, amen? This gets you out of… Some of you have been in positions where you’ve maybe even contested it legally and you’ve lost or there’s not evidence or the case is not strong. You’re very frustrated. Feel like, “Man, I’ve lost a lot.” Jesus says, “You haven’t lost anything. “We just put it in a new account. “And when you get to Me, you’ll cash in “and I’ll take care of you.” The Bible talks about rewards for God’s faithful people. I’m not exactly sure what that refers to. I don’t know what that all looks like. We’ll see when we get to the Lord Jesus. But what he’s saying is that, ultimately, Jesus is a good accountant and He will make sure that not only do you get a retirement account, that you get an inheritance account and that, ultimately, you’ll get it eternally. I hope that’s encouraging to you. Jesus has a way of taking care of everyone. Jesus has a way of taking care of everything. Some of you would like to have the money now, you don’t. You’d like to have it when you retire, you won’t. But when you get to Jesus you’ll have it eternally and you’ll realize that He loves you and He’s a just God, and He rightly repays those who do the right thing. Ya got that? So this is godly living under, under, under authority. And then he has commands for those in authority. I want you to see here in Colossians 3 and Colossians 4 it talks about husbands, wives, parents, children, employer, employee. What God has, He has rights and responsibilities for all categories. You end up with a domineering, unjust system when you only give one person in the relationship responsibilities. So if all we do is tell the children what to do and not tell the parents, then they’re gonna domineer the children. If all we do is tell the wives what to do, not the husbands, then they’re gonna domineer their wives. If all we do is tell the employees what to do and not the employer, then they’re going to domineer over the employee. And the inverse can happen as well and sometimes tragically does. So he has commands for those who are in authority, those that are under authority. And here he’s gonna talk about masters. “Masters,” he says. “Those in leadership, those in authority, “treat your bond servants,” and our cultural equivalency, this would be your employees, your workers, “justly and fairly, “knowing that you also have a master in Heaven.” So let me say this. Let’s put you in the category of master if any of these things are true of you. In the company you’re the owner, you’re the CEO, you’re the CFO, you’re in legal, you’re in management, you’re in human resources, you’re the master. You make decisions that other people have to live with and they don’t get to make those decisions. Let’s say it’s a law firm. If you’re a senior partner, you’re a master. If you’re in the military, if you’re a commanding officer, you’re a master. If you’re in a school, you’re a teacher, a principal, an administrator, you’re a master. And the students are under your authority. In the church if you’re a leader, you make decisions that impact and affect other people. If it’s sports and you’re the coach, you’re the master. And if you’re a parent and you have a child or children, you’re in the position of master, okay? Categorically, you’re the leader. You’re the one in authority. And what does God have to say to those of us who are in authority? Well, He has two commands here. Treat your bond servants justly. Again, in this culture, bond servants didn’t have legal rights. They didn’t have legal protection. You couldn’t secure legal representation and bring a case against your master. And so what he’s doing here, he’s saying, “You know what? “Masters, leaders, those in authority, “the government cannot enforce any laws “but God expects more than the government does.” The government doesn’t expect you to treat people with dignity, value, worth, equality, but God does. The government doesn’t really regard these people as significant or important or valuable, but God does. Now the government would tell you to see these people as resources to enrich your life, God would tell you to see these people as made in His image and likeness and He cares for them too. You see this? I want you to see that a cursory reading of Scripture can lead to a rejection of Scripture which is a complete misrepresentation of Scripture that the Bible actually is revolutionary. The fact that we’re here today and we all have equal rights under the law is because of the Bible. That the world in which the Bible was initially written was a world of great injustice and justice comes as understanding of God’s heart for all people floods from the Bible into the culture. So let me ask you this. Those who are in authority justly, are you treating people under your authority justly? This is not fairness, it’s justice. It’s doing what’s right. Not threatening, not taking advantage of, not manipulating your powerful position so that it’s a win-lose. And he says, “Also, fairly.” This can include things like compensation. Do you pay your employees what’s a reasonable wage? Do you give them decent benefits? If they’re working, for example, on a sales commission, are you fudging the numbers so that you can take from them and benefit yourself? Are you contracting people and then once they obtain the job and they need it for their family, are you then changing the terms of the agreement because you know that they are in a weak position and you can take advantage of them because you’re in the strong position? Those kinds of things are not justice and they’re not fair. As Christian employees and as Christian employers here’s what God is trying to teach us. He wants His people in authority and under authority to act like Jesus. Let me ask you this about Jesus. Is Jesus our master, yes or no? Say, “Yes,” okay, yes. So we do have a master. How is our master toward us? Is He loving, gracious, kind, generous? Is He fair, is He just? Amen! That’s why we’re all looking for, all of us that belong to Jesus. And if you don’t belong to Jesus, let me tell you this. You have a master as well, right? Everybody has a master, everyone has someone over them. And according to the Bible, either Satan is your master or Jesus is your master. And if Satan is your master, he is not loving, gracious, merciful, kind, and generous forever. And if Jesus is your master, He’s loving, gracious, merciful, generous, and kind forever. We all have a master. The only difference is who our master is. Now, if Jesus is your master, the reason we’re all looking forward to Heaven is because we get rid of all of our bosses and politicians and all we have to deal with is Jesus, amen?
– [Congregation] Amen!
– Okay, that was pretty enthusiastic. I’m looking forward to that. We don’t have an election, we have Jesus. Yay! And if we did vote, it would not be a close vote, amen? And we don’t have bosses and we don’t have, you know what we have is we have Jesus. And we let Jesus make all the decisions and all those decisions are all fair, and they’re all just, and they’re all good, and they’re all right, and they’re all loving, and they’re all kind, and they’re all generous. Jesus is a great master. Let me say this about Jesus. Some of you are fearful of becoming a Christian ’cause you don’t want Jesus to be the boss of you. Let me tell you this. Jesus is a better boss of you than you are of you. Jesus is more loving to you than you are to yourself. Jesus is more gracious to you than you are to yourself. Jesus is more forgiving of you than you are to yourself. Jesus is more kind to you than you are to yourself. I used to think I was a pretty good master of my own life until I met Jesus and I realized Jesus is better to me than I am to me. Jesus is a great master. When we call Jesus Lord, that’s literally our way as Christians of calling Him master. And so for those of us who are in authority, we wanna be in authority like Jesus. Which means for the Christian it’s thinking Kingdom down, not culture up. It’s walking into whatever sphere of leadership or opportunity that God provides for us and saying, “How can I represent my King and His Kingdom “and treat the people like He treats me?” Number two, is Jesus our servant? Yeah, yeah, Jesus is our servant. Not only does He rule over us, but He comes to serve us. Jesus says, “I didn’t come to be served but to serve “and to give My life as a ransom for many.” Philippians it says that, “He humbled Himself “and He took upon Himself the form of servant.” That our God comes to the Earth and He submits to His parental authority. Imperfect parents, perfect child. He submits to His employer which was probably His dad. Imperfect boss, perfect employee. Do you think Jesus showed up for work on time? Yeah. Do you think He showed up drunk? Answer, no. You think He showed up hungover? No. Do you think He lied about His sick days? No. Do you think if Jesus did a job He did a good job? Do you think if you hired Jesus to build something He’d actually build it? Not like some contractors, all right. Do you think if Jesus billed you for hours that He worked that He actually worked those hours and wasn’t just saying He worked those hours? Yes. Jesus served, He served humbly. Jesus was perfect in authority, is perfect in authority. He was perfect under authority. What this means is for all of us some of us are in authority, some of us are under authority, and some of us, many of us quite frankly, it’s both. There are spheres in which we’re in authority, there are spheres that we’re under authority. And the great thing about the Lord Jesus, we can look to Him and ask, “What does it look like “to be in authority? “What does it look like to be under authority?” I’ll close with this. The Bible has rights and responsibilities for all people. Here, we’re reading that God wants people under authority to be treated a certain way and people in authority to be treated a certain way. That God wants them to have rights but God also has responsibilities. Let me ask you this. In our culture, are people more keenly attuned to their rights or their responsibilities?
– [Congregation] Rights.
– Rights. This is a teeter-totter that has become, in that day it was very imbalanced toward your responsibilities. And the Bible here is also talking about rights. But in our day, it’s really shifted to where it’s a lot of emphasis on your rights. I have a right to this, I have a right to that. Do you have any responsibility? Not really. That’s an entitlement culture and it hurts everyone because it leads to injustice. And the injustice can go in either direction. In their day it went toward those in authority and those with rights. In our day it can go toward those who are under authority and only want their rights and not their responsibilities. Let me say this. Gonna pray for ya and we’re gonna worship Jesus who serves us, lives without sin, dies for our sin, rises as our Savior, ascends, is our master so our master is our servant. And I want the Holy Spirit to give you an action point. What is the thing that God would have you to do? To be better in authority? To be better under authority? To start with the authority of Jesus and to submit to His authority? To exercise your authority in a way that is consistent and congruent with His exercise of authority? If you’re under authority, is there anything in your heart, your head, your heads, that needs to change? And then we’re gonna take communion. Communion is where we remember the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. That our master serves us. That He lives the life we’ve not lived. That He dies the death we should die. That He gives the gift we can’t earn. That we receive this great reward and inheritance from Him because He has served us. And when we worship, we worship our servant master who’s humble and worthy of worship. Father, thank You for an opportunity to, I hope, untie some knots in a very complicated but very important and significant section of Your Word. Lord, I pray for all of us that we would receive the Lord Jesus as our servant and as our master. And that we would be under authority as the Lord Jesus was and we would exercise authority as the Lord Jesus does. Lord, I pray for the employers here, wisdom for them. I pray for the employees here, wisdom for them. And, Lord Jesus, as we come to communion we look forward to the day when all is concluded. When You alone are ruling and reigning. When all the nations and all the languages and all the tribes and all the tongues and all the peoples from all the cultures through all of history are all united together around the resurrected Jesus who is a humble master, who serves us forever. Lord Jesus, we love You. We ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit here that this would be a Kingdom place for Kingdom people to go out and do Kingdom work in the name of our great King, amen.