A Spirit-governed worker or boss will represent Christ in the workplace.

“Ordinary” Christians have no less responsibility to live a worthy walk than those in full-time Christian work. Our prayer in every setting should be that others will come to Christ because of us. We’ve learned about how the overflow of the Gospel influences our individual walk with the Lord, our domestic relationships, and now our public life. Paul tells employees and employers how to take the Gospel to the work place through our work ethic.

A Christian Worker Knows the Value of the Eternal Versus the Temporal

Christians must live with an eternal purpose in mind no matter where they work. Attached to every command in this passage is a qualification: “as to Christ” or “as to the Lord.” Many organizations have bold and concise vision statements. We are to emulate that of Jesus, who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

God gave humans a work ethic even before sin entered the world. The global vision He gave to two people – “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28-29) – is still our mandate today. Sin didn’t alter the command to have dominion over everything we see and enjoy it for God’s glory. Yet most of the time we live as if God is so small.

It is sobering to realize that this passage was written to slaves, many of whom lived and worked in brutal environments. Yet the only way to reverse a dark culture is to live the Gospel. As Christian slaves worked with an eternal perspective, their owners would see their testimony and be transformed by Christ too. As they were urged to keep an eternal perspective, how much more so should we!

Christian Workers Remain Dutiful Toward Their Boss and Fellow Employees

Five simple words in this passage show us how we are to remain dutiful in our work. Employees must be obedient to their earthly boss, remembering that this is a temporary responsibility (v. 5a). We are to show the same reverence to our boss that we show in our relationship with God (v. 5b). Practically, this means we are responsible because we know we are always seen by Christ (v. 6). We are ministerial because we know that work is the will of God (v. 6-7). We are purposeful because we know that God loves to reward every good deed done by His children (v. 8).

Christian Business Owners Remain Dutiful Toward Their Employees

The relationship of Christian employers to their employees should be reciprocal, because we are all to work with the same eternal perspective. They must be respectful of their employees, seeking to build relationships, not condescending. Employers must have a reverent attitude as they serve the same Master, Christ. They must resolve to have no favorites, for there are only two types of people at a business, saved and unsaved, and both need to see a Christ-like example in you.

Application Points

  • Examine your attitude about work. Do you recognize that work is God’s will for you? Do you work “as unto the Lord”? Are you obedient to your boss and respectful to your fellow employees?
  • If you are a Christian employer, what attitude do you show your employees? Do you respect them? Can they see Christ in you?
  • Try writing a personal vision statement for your own life, specifically at work. Keep it bold and concise. Here’s a start: “To labor so effectively that people would see Christ in me and find in Him their only way to Heaven.”

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Colossians 3:22-4:1 – Parallel passage. We have no Gospel if it does not transform how we live in every area.
  • 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, 5:18, 1 Peter 3:17 – Specific items of God’s will.
Quotes to Ponder:

When we come to work ethic in the work world, there is really no difference between someone who’s in full-time Christian service and someone who’s in the work world. There shouldn’t be a difference between the miner and the missionary, the promoter and the preacher, or the engineer and the evangelist. All have the same purpose in Christ.

We’re to be on the job for Jesus. We are the only Bible that some people will read.

The Lord’s payday is not at the end of our week, but at the end of our lives. In the Millennial Kingdom, we will rule cities, counties, provinces, countries, and continents. In eternity, we might well manage worlds and galaxies within God’s vast new empires in space. We are in training now for the tasks of great honor in eternity as we handle mundane details down here.

– John Phillips

I told the Lord the whole thing. I told him that it’s not fair. I told him how I was bitter because the President received this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us when we returned. And you know, as I finished, it seems as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, “But you’re not home yet.”

– Discouraged missionary

A Hymn to Encourage: “Jesus Shall Reign”

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does His successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And endless praises crown His head;
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
With ev’ry morning sacrifice.

People and realms of ev’ry tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.

Let ev’ry creature rise and bring
His grateful honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud “Amen!”