Jump Start # 2661
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”
Now Hiring, says the sign. I see those signs everywhere. I talk to business owners and the story is the same. It’s hard to find people that want to work. And, by work, they mean beyond the first paycheck. Short sighted and short term seems to the way many think. Work just long enough to afford something they want to buy. Then they quit. They quit until they want something else, then they’ll find a job to afford what’s next on their list.
I’ve not always preached. Most of my generation had summer jobs in high school and college. For me, it was a busboy in restaurant, fast food, landscaper, and in a fishery. Most of those jobs were far from ideal. Hot. Smelly, especially the fishery. Dirty. And, an incentive to get to college and do something better.
Our verse today is addressed to slaves. There were slaves in the first century. Some had great masters, like Philemon, who was a Christian. Others, had oppressive owners who took advantage of them. The slave back then was stuck. He had no rights. He had no freedoms. He had no choices. He could run, but if he was found, it was bad news for him. Some slaves were Christians. The early churches were made up of common people who were looking for something, especially hope. And, in Jesus they found the greatest hope of all, salvation.
Now that these slaves were Christians, their faith and their walk with Jesus impacted their relationships as slaves. They had a new and different outlook at their work. No longer were they to just do as little as possible. No longer were they to cut corners and fool their masters. They were disciples of Jesus. They were to work as if the Lord was their boss. They, as our verse states, were to work heartily. They were working for the Lord.
When we think of shinning our light and influence, our thoughts tend to go towards how we talk, our attitudes, how modest we are. And all of that is true. But our verse reminds us that the way we work reflects upon our faith and our commitment to Jesus. The verse before warns, “not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” External service. That gets into the inside/outside stuff. Outside I look like a good worker. Outside I please my master. But inside, I could smack him if I could get away with it. Inside, I can’t stand him. Inside, my spirit and my heart hate the man. The inside reflects upon the outside, it always does.
From these principles we find application to the work force today. Getting up and going to work. Necessary to put food on the table, pay the mortgage and someday be able to stop working and survive. Work is not a dirty word. It is not a curse upon mankind. God had Adam farming the garden BEFORE they sinned. God wants us to work. It makes us productive and gives us a sense of accomplishment. The idle mind and the idle hand become the devil’s workshop and playground. Too busy to do wrong is a good place to be. Busy doing good makes the body tired and makes a person fill useful.
Now here are a few thoughts:
First, the work ethic is taught at home. Lazy teens can easily become lazy forty-year-olds. Doing a job and doing it well and right are things that mom and dad pass on to the next generation. Lazy parents become an influence to not do a job well and to find ways out of doing things. And, most of us have been there. Rather than cleaning the room as mom tells us to do, we stuff things under the bed. Sure the room looks nice when she walks in, but we haven’t truly cleaned it and put things away. Getting away with things like that sets a tone to how one does homework, yardwork, and how they enter the work force. The work ethic is taught not when one is sixteen, but it begins when one is five, by picking up his toys. When the my grandkids come and we get all the toys out, I have a little song I sing with them, “Clean up, Clean up.” And, I’m busy picking up toys with them. That’s how one does it. It’s not fair for me to sit in a chair and yell at them to clean the room up. You want to teach your child a good work ethic, you get busy and help them out. You work hard with them. Later, that becomes housework or yardwork. Work hard, play hard. That’s the spirit.
Second, the work environment naturally becomes a great opportunity to share the gospel. You are around people all day long. You hear their stories, their misery, their mistakes and their troubles. Now, you can be preachy and sound self-righteous and better than others, and they will cut you off and leave you out. Or, in kindness, you can drop little suggestions, references to God, and hope. Co-workers are watching you. Do your work heartily, our passage says. Don’t preach one lesson and then live another. Follow the company policy and rules. Don’t be bending the rules, abusing time, taking advantage of sick days and things like that. People notice. And, what they will find out quickly is whether your walk and your talk match. It’s easy to preach a good story, but do you live it yourself. Honest in a dishonest world. Pure in an impure world. Not engaging in potty talk, suggestive jokes or trash talking others. Light of the world means being different. Others are watching. Your work ethic is how they see you the most. Are you working hard? Are you doing what you are supposed to do? Are you dependable?
Third, God is honored by the manner in which you work. That’s the direction Paul points our passage. You are not working for a master. You are working for the Lord. And, often we think, if my boss was like the Lord then I would work better. But, since he isn’t, then I won’t. That’s not something our passage teaches. Only do your work if the boss is great. Otherwise, do what you want. That’s not Bible. In fact, Peter adds, that servants are to be submissive to their masters even if they are unreasonable. Work has a way of destroying good moods, healthy attitudes and positive spirits. Toxic work relations is the number one reason why people change jobs. It is important to be Christ-like but establish borders. You do not have to express your opinion on every subject discussed. You do not have to attend every argument that you are invited to. You are surrounded by folks who have no problem lying, cheating and stealing. You witness the worst work ethics every day. You can become a part of that yourself or you can rise to the occasion and honor God by doing what you can.
I’ve known people who have changed the entire atmosphere of work by the way they conducted themselves. I’ve known some that were invited to pray, teach the Bible and talk about constructive things at the work place. Remembering the golden rule helps us to work as God want us to. There is no excuse nor reason for us to be sloppy, lazy, indifferent, or even toxic and hostile at work. We may receive those things but we must never deliver those things.
Get up. Say a prayer. Get to work on time, every time. Work hard. Thank the Lord that you have a job. Look for opportunities to invite, encourage and help. Use the benefits of your job, your paycheck, to help the kingdom of God. Go home, unwind. Relax. Remember little ears hear what you say about work.
Hiring—I feel many of those signs will stay up for a long time. Finding good workers is hard these days. You be one of those good workers.