extreme makeover: work edition

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].[1] Today, your reward is Christlikeness, which blesses those working around you.[2] Both slave and free will face the same strict judgment.[3]

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?


[1] Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6; Colossians 3:24-25

[2] Cf. Matthew 10:41-42, 16:27; Colossians 3:24; Revelation 22:12

[3] Cf. Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13

extreme makeover: home edition

Most parents agree that they desire to have a happy house with children who are successful, financially responsible, skillful, educated, athletic and active. These are not wrong desires, but they could also distract you from God’s agenda for your home. What is God’s agenda for the home? God desires for parents to raise their children in such a way that they will lovingly, joyfully, passionately, and freely follow Jesus Christ. This is the greatest agenda for parents. God’s agenda for children is also similar: to obey their God-given authority and make Jesus Christ the passion of their life.

In Ephesians 6:1-4, God sets a clear agenda for the home, which is a wonderful picture of His gospel. Let’s look at the basis, goal and technique for living as God’s kind of home.

The Basis of a Godly Home is Obedience [Ephesians 6:1]

I did not grow up singing the famous children’s Sunday School songs, but one I do know is, “Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe: Doing exactly what the Lord commands, doing it happily. Action is the key–do it immediately, the joy you will receive! Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe. O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E (Yes, sir!) Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.” I am sure that was a fun song to sing as a kid and there is a lot of truth to this song, but as a child grows older that some might mean something entirely different. Obedience is a willingness to submit to ones authority without challenge, excuse or delay.

How should I discipline children of different ages?

For many children, following God’s agenda is difficult because they want what they want, when they want it, in the way they want it. Therefore, children test boundaries, push limits, and stress the consistency of their parents. Is this really the agenda of cute innocent children? Surely I just have a pessimistic view of children? No. I just believe what the Bible says, everyone child is born a sinner into a sinful world and sinning comes natural.

Why is it important for children to obey their parents? Obedience teaches children how to live under authority, especially God’s authority [5:21]. Authority is like an umbrella of protection for our good and God’s glory. In ancient days, the father could maintain authority in the home until death. When do you cease being a child? You never cease being a child to your parents. “Child” does not denote age, but relationship. Even as an adult you are still your parents children. However, as you grow older your relationship with your parents may morph [cf. 2:24] because biblically parenting is a temporary stewardship preparing you for your own permanent relationship of marriage.

The Goal of a Godly Home is Honor [Ephesians 6:2-3]

What does it mean to honor? Honor means you have an attitude of godly fear towards your parents because you know they have been give to you by a higher authority—God [cf. Leviticus 19:3, 14; Deuteronomy 4:10]. When you obey your parents it is a way of honoring them. Can you obey without honoring? Yes, this is called legalism. Follow rules, but not following lovingly and joyfully isn’t honor. This might run in tandem with our culture that says that ‘honor is earned’; rather God says honor no matter what because God particularly places your parents as your authority.

Paul begins this verse by quoting the 5th Commandment. [Exodus 21:12] He also notes that this is the first commandment with a promise in relation to other humans. What is the promise? The promise is that if you honor your parents you are also honoring God; therefore, God will bless you with an enjoyable life.

Exodus 20:12 Deuteronomy 5:16 Ephesians 6:1-3 Colossians 3:20
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. ‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3“that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 20Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Should you honor your parents if they are not believers or spiritually mature? Even if your parents do not have a biblical perspective of life you are still called to honor and obey them. Now if your parents specifically ask you to do something sinful you are called obey God who is your higher authority. If your parents abuse their authority it is proper to remove yourself from their authority until they makeover their home to match God kind of parent.

What are there benefits or drawbacks to obeying your parents? There are times when obedience might prevent you from doing something you really would like to do. This is not always a bad thing. I remember asking my parents if I could spend the night at a friend’s house from school. They denied the request because they knew that this friend was not a good influence on me. I was upset, but after the fact I was appreciative my parents were protecting me. In the future, my honor for my parents grew and it was easier to obey.

Here are some practical ways you can honor your parents: Do not talk back to your parents privately or publicly. Do not complain about your parents to others. Protect the integrity of your family. Listen to their wise counsel. Seek their wise counsel for decisions. Do not repeat their sinful habits. If you disagree do not argue in defense.

The Technique for have a Godly Home is Training in Truth [Ephesians 6:4]

In verse 4, fathers are singled out. Why are father’s singles out? As children obey, fathers are not to neglect their responsibility of point their children to Christ. Every father is accountable to God for the spiritual climate of his home [1 Timothy 3:4-5].[1] This climate can be controlled as the father teaches and consistently models Christlikeness to his children.

How does a parent provoke his children to wrath?

Training children is like giving them spiritual nourishment that will help them grow spiritually strong so that when they are on their own Satan will not have an influence on them. The greatest device the devil uses to cause division in the home is prolonged anger of the children towards their parents. Parents can feed this anger by not following Christ [cf. Colossians 3:20-21].

Training in Truth focuses on the gospel: the child’s need of a Savior [Romans 6:23] because they are accountable to God [Dt.4:9; 6:6-7]. This child must be taught about their sinful heart [Rom.5:12; Prov. 22:15]. Following salvation, parents have an enormous task of teaching their children to follow God’s Word [Ps.1:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:15-17], repent, restore and mature in Christlikeness [Ephesians 4:22-32]. This is how the child comes face-to-face with the gospel.

If you desire to have a happy house, with children who are successful, financial fiscal, skillful, educated and active above God’s agenda for your home you might be raising children who worship these agendas because they have a  distorted understanding of the gospel. Unless the gospel is central in the child all other agendas can become idols. God’s desire for parents is to raise their children in such a way that they will lovingly, joyfully, passionately, and freely follow Jesus Christ. This is the greatest agenda for parents. And God’s desire for children is to obey their God-given authority and make Jesus Christ the passion of their life. The gospel means God is always at the center of the family, not the child or parent.

Great Resources for Parents:

Shepherding a Child’s Heart [Tedd Tripp]

Gospel-Powered Parenting [William P. Farley]

Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens [Paul David Tripp]

Angry Children—Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control [Mike Emlet]

Addressing the Problems of Rebellious Children [Mary Somerville]


[1] Fathers responsibility: Psalm 103:13; Matthew 7:9-11; Proverbs 3:11-12; Psalm 72:2-8; Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Hebrews 12:7-11

extreme makeover: marriage edition

Most people have seen the show Extreme Makeover. On the reality show a family in desperate need of home renovation is surprised with the opportunity it receive the needed renovations. The show usually destroys the old home and rebuilds a new one. We love the show because in the end the family has a wonderful new home.

When it comes to our real homes—marriage. There are times when an extreme makeover is needed. For whatever reason the home has become rundown over time, bad habits, or weak foundation, and you do not have the resources or know-how to fix it. Building a solid marriage can be difficult. It takes hard work to build or renovate a marriage into God’s kind of marriage. The Church in Ephesians is compared to a: body [1:22, 23], building [2:20-22], and now a bride [5:31-32]. Let’s begin by looking at the foundations of a solid marriage through the roles of each partner within the marriage relationship.

The Role of the Wife [Ephesians 5:22-24]

The primary role of the wife is submission [v.22]. Submission sounds like a dirty word. Submission is a willingness to lovingly, joyfully, and freely follow authority. Submission is not an option, but a command to lovingly, joyfully and freely follow her husband as she would follow Christ.

Is submission for wives only? No. Submission is a concept for all believers [5:21]. Everyone is summoned to submit to some kind of authority. You submit to your spouses [Ephesians 5:22], parents [6:1-4], government [Romans 13:1], church [Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5], and ultimately God. Submission is a spiritual matter because all submission is obedience to God’s authority. Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” [John 14:15]

Why is submission a difficult command for people to obey? It is an authority issue. Your natural reaction is buck against any authority that tells you how to live. It started when Satan rebelled against God’s authority and continued in the hearts of men from the Garden of Eden until now [Romans 3:10-18]. A lack of submission originates from a desire to be king of your domain rather than letting God be King of His domain.

Headship is the motivation for submission [v.23a]. In Ephesians, headship refers to Christ [1:22; 4:15], but here it is being implied on the husband. Headship has the biblical idea of ruler or leader. Without the headship of Christ over the church the building would not have a cornerstone, and without a cornerstone would crumble. Have you heard it said, “There are too many chiefs and no Indians?” This is a common phrase to say that there are too many people demanding control, but too few willing to follow another persons lead. In Genesis 3:16, woman is cursed with the desire to rule over their husbands [cf. 4:7]. Two chiefs in a marriage can become a two-headed monster. It is a monster that needs to be slain. The church submits to Christ because she knows the benefits of being united with Him. Likewise the wife submits to the headship of her husband.

Submission to authority, especially within marriage, sometimes becomes abused. Submission does not mean the wife becomes a slave or inferior to the husband [Proverbs 31:10-31]. The Bible never commands a husband to force his wife to submit; rather the wife is commanded to make herself submissive as her husband’s helper [cf. 1 Peter 3:1; Genesis 2:18]. Since Christ is the example of headship, the husband is to be as loving and life-giving in their marriage relationship as Christ is over the church. God created men and women equally within the image of God [Genesis 1:26-27; 2:23; Galatians 3:28], but He has given them distinct roles to fulfill that are for their good and God’s glory.

Christ is the model for submission [v.23b-24]. How can a wife submit to her husband? Simply by following the example of the church’s submission to Christ: speak the truth in love [cf. 4:15; 4:25; Proverbs 9:3], point him to Christ with your actions [1 Peter 3:1-6], extend the forgiveness of Christ when he sins, and affirm his leadership.

The Role of the Husband [Ephesians 5:25-30]

The husband’s primary role is a commitment to love his wife like Christ loves His church [v.25; cf. Genesis 2:19-20; 3:20]. He is to be a lover, leader [Matthew 20] and learner [1 Peter 3:7]. He loves her enough to lead her to walk with God as He models it himself for her. As the husband seeks to humbly serve God, it is reflected in the way he loves, leads, and learns to his wife.

Why is it important for a husband to follow the example of Christ? Christ was a servant leader [Matthew 20]. He came not to be served, but to serve. He was a king that gave Himself sacrificially for His Bride. It is not that the church deserves to be given His love, but His love is an expression of His grace. He did not give 50/50 waiting for the church to love Him back. He gave it all, 100%. Husbands do not hold back from loving sacrificially to your wife.

The Bible gives many words for love: The first word is erao, which is a physical or sexual love. Erao is where you get the word erotic. It is a pleasurable love to be saved for the marriage bed only. The second word is phileo, which is an emotional love. This is the love you share with a brother or close friend. Phileo will see objects as worthy of love. Peter used this word of Jesus [John 21:20ff]. The third word for love in the Bible is agapao, which is an intellectual and volitional love. Agapao is a committed, God-like love. Jesus used this word of Peter and God uses it toward sinful mankind [John 3:16].

In relationships, these words for love have a proper order. If you start with sexual love it will be almost impossible to have true committed love because the relationship is built on physicality rather than friendship and commitment. If you begin with committed and brotherly love, it will create the best atmosphere for sexual love and additional loves grow. A husband’s Christlike love has a sanctifying effect on marriage [vs.26-27].

Why is important for a husband to view his wife’s body as part of his own? [vs.28-30] No man treats his own body in an unloving way, therefore a husband who views his wife’s body as his own will treat his wife lovingly as well. A loving husband will protect and provide for his wife as his most prized possession. A husband protects and provides for his wife is with his time, careful ear, encouragement, and appreciation for her inner and outer beauty.

Reviewing the Biblical Basis for Marriage [Ephesians 5:31-33]

Marriage is a picture of oneness [v.31]. Oneness is the miracle of marriage—when two people become one flesh [cf. Genesis 2:24]. Oneness in marriage means your spouse becomes priority above my career, friends, sinful habits, and hobby’s.

Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church [v.32]. What does Paul mean by mystery? [cf.3:9] The symbol of marriage was hidden, but is now revealed. Why is marriage a mystery? Marriage is a picture of salvation through Christ’s sacrificial relationship with the church, which is made up of both Jew and Gentile. Marriage is a typology of marriage that shows the unity of Christ [Bridegroom] with His church [Bride]. This gives marriage a divine significance.

Marriage glorifies God when the husband and wife are fulfilling their roles [v.33]. The purpose of marriage is not my happiness, fulfillment, or love, although these can be fruits of a godly marriage. Marriage is bigger than just my spouse and me, but it is about a display of Christ-like love and obedience to the world.