I got my first “real job” when I was thirteen-years-old. I had been “helping for cash” before that, but when I hit thirteen, I was finally old enough to get a paycheck. My first job was a great experience. A few years later, I got a job washing dishes at a local restaurant washing dishes. I learned a lot at this job, but I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. My boss was a yeller. I was scared to death of him. I was a scrawny thing and washing dishes in a nice restaurant is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding job. I worked hard because I wanted to do a good job. One day I was so tired that I stopped to rest during a lull in the dishes. Unfortunately, my boss happened to walk by and yelled at me when he saw that I wasn’t working. He gave me a random job to do and stood there and watched me do it, discouraging me all the while. I was so happy when that summer came to an end and I could quit that horrible job!
After I graduated from college I got a job working as a nursing assistant at a nursing home. I was still scrawny and this job was also physically demanding. There was one big difference though between this job and the job I had in high school as a dishwasher. I loved my boss. She was a great boss. She liked me, and if I messed up, she would correct me in a kind way. I worked hard for her because I wanted to do a good job and please her. I also wanted to take good care of the patients in my care.
Currently there are about 27 million slaves in the world today. There are many men, women and children being sold into slavery, many of them being sold for sex. I would be happy to talk with you about this heartbreaking issue, however, today I want to talk about the employer/employee relationship.
Many scholars believe the employer/employee relationship is appropriate for this passage today. I would agree with that because the word bondservant comes from the Greek word doulos. The meaning of this word, according to The Strong's Exhaustive Concordance is “devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests.”
When I look back on my work history, there are many employers to whom I was devoted. However, like the boss I had when I was a dishwasher, many employers I wasn’t devoted to at all. It was difficult and I had to really try to do a good job, in spite of my employers! But Paul tells us to obey our earthly masters, aka, our boss. This is consistent with what Paul has been telling us about other relationships between husband and wife and parent and child.
Paul doesn’t want us to obey our boss just to please them on the surface. He wants us to work for them as we would work for the Lord. [Note: I am not calling your boss God!] We should work from our heart, honestly trying to do our best and please our boss because really, our boss is God, not man! We should not obey our boss blindly; if they are asking us to do something that goes against what God has commanded, our responsibility is to obey God, not man.
Paul has something to say for employers too. He tells them to do the same (work as if they’re working for the Lord), to stop threatening their employees, and to know that God is not only their Master, but their employees as well.
As for the chronically ill, many of us have lost our jobs or have had to quit working. However, some of us are still working part-time or full-time. If you are working, having a chronic illness can add a lot of stress to the employer/employee relationship. If you aren’t blessed with an understanding boss, I want to encourage you to work as if you are working for the Lord. Don’t intentionally slack off to spite your boss. Speak kindness and know that your Heavenly Master is worthy of your best.
“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” ~ Colossians 3:15-17, The Message
© May 22, 2013