The Seven Dwarfs vs. The Office
Millions of viewers enjoy watching the popular television show The Office. Could it be the show is much like a real life office? How does Dunder Mifflin make any money when so many people are not doing any work? The Office is full of characters that do not take their work Monday through Friday seriously. Sadly, TGIF is the norm for many workers who are gravely dissatisfied with work. With hopes of summer vacations, relaxing weekends, 401K’s, and early retirement.
Then there is the American workaholic who thinks their hard work will some how bring them happiness, identity, or merit with God. Like one of the Seven Dwarfs [except Grumpy] whistling joyfully while working, “Hi, ho, hi, ho it’s off to work we go.” The average American works 40 hours a week, which means they will work over 100,000 hours in their lifetime. Work is not a savior, status symbol, or a means to gain acceptance with God. If you stand before God one day He will not let you in because you were on Forbes 500 list, nor will He keep you out of heaven because you lived below the poverty line.
God does care about your work, primarily the way you work and who you work for. In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul gives our workplace an extreme makeover. He challenges both the employee and the employer [i.e. student and teacher] with a new motivation for our work. God cares about your work and rewards your faithful service. Here is how Jesus can transform the way you work:
Jesus gives your work a greater purpose [Ephesians 6:5-6]
What do these verses have to do with work? A current application of the slave and master relationship is the work environment of worker and boss [or student and teacher]. It is interesting the Bible never denounces slavery, but it does give a new look at the slave and master relationship. According to many estimates over half of the people in the Roman Empire in Jesus’ day was a slave. Slavery then was not about cracking whips, trading ships, and inhumane treatment; rather slavery was a means of work to pay off debt and it did not last longer than 7-years. There was a level of respect and care within the relationship of a slave and his master.
How does Christ give you are greater purpose for your work? First, obeying your earthly authorities reflects of upon your obedience of God’s authority. Jesus obeyed His Father because He had a holy sense of awe and respect for His authority. He had fear, not out of potential punishment, but God’s provision. In this passage is a deliberate word plan between master and Lord [Grk: kurios]. Biblically, every man and woman born into the world is a slave [cf. Romans 6]. In Christ, you are a slave to righteousness and a steward of your God-give life.
Second, Jesus helps you to work with wholehearted sincerity, integrity, purity, humility, and loyalty. To be wholehearted means you work well even when your authority is not looking. That is what is meant when Paul goes on to say, “obey your bosses not only to win their favor when their eye is upon you.” What is eye service? It is to fear the opinion of man rather than God. Fearing God is always more important because His authority trumps any man’s authority.
Be careful how you walk around and talk about your boss [or teachers]. I often counsel with parents who have children that do not respect their parent’s authority. I often ask the parents how they talk about their boss, parents, President, and authorities from the dinner table. Often disrespectful parents breed disrespectful children by the way they communicate about their authorities behind their backs.
Third, Jesus encourages you when you are tempted to view your work as futile and meaningless. He gives you the courage to keep on and persevere. Many would rather quit, drop out, or give up. Some think of work as a curse [Genesis 3] and vanity [Ecclesiastes], which is true to some extent, but Christ gives you a greater purposes for your work. Do not get your theology of work from the Fall, rather get it from Creation.
Fourth, Jesus encourages when you are tempted to view work as self-center quest for success rather than a sacrifice or service towards others and God. God gets the glory for any gracious success you happen to accumulate. Treasures of earth are miniscule compared to those of heaven. Seek first the kingdom of God, rather than building your own kingdom or corporate castle.
Jesus gives your work a greater purpose. This is the will of God for your work. You please your boss and God by doing your work and doing it well. A great question to ask when you work is: how would Jesus do your same job?
Commit to work for God as your first boss [Ephesians 6:7]
Work is an act of worship. It is not just a job. The way you work reflects on the one you worship. As you serve your boss you also serve God. How is work an act of worship? If you work with humility and integrity you are reflecting the character of Christ and therefore shining the gospel through the way you serve. Your work is an opportunity to shine the gospel.
How you know if you love your work more than God? Is your work an idol? Do you treasure the Lord more than your money, power or success? Have you lost your passion for work or ministry because you think it is work? People say, “Pastor, it is easy for you to love your work and honor your boss because you work for God. You don’t know my boss. He is not God!” It is as if they think there is a distinction between secular and sacred work. However, there is no separation between secular and sacred work—all work is sacred. All work is for God.
Working for God has great rewards [Ephesians 6:8]
The reward in work is not earning a sweet home with fancy car, summer vacations to the beach, golfing on the weekends, socializing with the big-shots, building a huge pension to retire on, patting the portfolio, living it up with a life of leisure or luxury. If this is the reward you desire for your work you will be sorely dissatisfied.
What is your reward for working with God as your primary authority? The reward has now and later benefits. In the future, your reward is related to your inheritance in Christ according to your faithfulness to Him [cf.5:5-6]. Today, your reward is Christlikeness, which blesses those working around you. Both slave and free will face the same strict judgment.
I am certainly grateful that people work to serve others. Think of all the farmers, bakers, deliverer, and retailers that help get your food to your table. Think of all the nurses, doctors, surgeons, and pharmacists who help keep you healthy. Think of all the servicemen, policemen, firemen, judges, attorneys, and government officials who help protect your rights and freedoms. Every person plays a role in serving one another. Your work is a blessing to another person. Work is a fulfillment of Christ command to love your neighbor and love your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Work is a gift from God, and it keeps on giving as you faithful follow Him.
For Bosses: reflect God in the way you care for your workers [Ephesians 6:9]
God is impartial [Romans 2:11; Galatians 3:25], therefore bosses must not be impartial with their employees [James 2:1-13]. What “same things” should masters do for their servants? [All the above] Employees are to be treated with respect and honor because they are servants of God. Bosses are to serve those who serve them for this can influence those they serve them for good—modeling Christlikeness.
In summary, work is a great place to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Jesus wants to redeem your work. Remember your work is an act of worship that shines the glory of God and His gospel through the way you work. Jesus can transform the way you work by giving you a greater purpose. Make God your first boss for the rewards of working for God are great. The way you work reflects upon God. Therefore, don’t waste your work. Instead of feeling guilty that you are not “doing more for God” view all your work, studies, and ministry as a means to do more for God.
For more resources on the gospel and your work:
1. Check out Bill Streger’s blog who gives additional insight from Colossians 3:22-25: The Gospel and your work. Jesus gives our work new expectancy, new passion, and new character.
2. Answer: What two reasons does Proverbs 10:4-5 give for working hard at your job? What does 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 say are the effects of a good work ethic? What does 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 say about doing your work with diligence? What does 1 Timothy 6:1-2 say imply about the relationship between a believing employee and believing employer? What does James 5:1-6 say about the dangers of success?
 Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6; Colossians 3:24-25
 Cf. Matthew 10:41-42, 16:27; Colossians 3:24; Revelation 22:12
 Cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13