Pastor David B. Curtis

HOME | STUDY INDEX

Christianity and Your Job

1 Timothy 6:1-2

Delivered 06/28/1998

1 Timothy 6:1-2 (NKJV) Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. 2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.

Don't dismiss these important verses just because you don't see yourself as a bondservant with a master. This exhortation is very much needed today. This Scripture is not written to us, but it is written for us. This passage speaks of employment relationships, something that affects us all.

U.S. News and World Report said that 70% of employed people in the U.S. don't like their jobs. 90% of the 70% don't feel like getting up in the morning to go to their jobs.

Unhappy people are unproductive people. TIME magazine said, "The average worker wastes many hours per week. It causes one hundred billion dollars of drain on the American economy to pay people for what they don't do." How much of your paycheck is unearned? I was shocked when I began to work a civil service job in the early eighties. People get paid by the government to do absolutely nothing all day long.

We are consumed with leisure and personal pleasure and little else in America. How will it benefit me? Seems to be the only question many people ask. Is this problem isolated to unbelievers? No! You know better than that.

It has been said that the average American teenager thinks that manual labor is the President of Mexico. We have become an over indulgent, self-seeking, lazy people looking for a free ride. We desperately need to understand what the Bible says about work. First, we must understand that work is not part of the curse!

Genesis 2:15 (NKJV) Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

Even in the perfect world as God made it, work was necessary for man's good. The ideal world is not one of idleness and frolic, but one of serious activity and service.

Proverbs 14:23 (NKJV) In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 18:9 (NKJV) He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.

Ephesians 4:28 (NKJV) Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (NKJV) But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

Paul commands the Thessalonians not to be idle but to work. Work is honorable, honest and commanded.

The Greeks deplored manual labor and relegated it to slaves as much as possible. But the Jews held it in esteem; every Jewish boy was taught a trade regardless of his family's wealth. The Jews taught that working with one's own hands demonstrates love for the brethren because a self-supporting person is not a burden to others.

The word for "bondservant" in 1 Timothy 6:1 is the Greek word doulos which means, a slave. A person who is in submissive subjection to someone else.

The whole economic structure of the Middle East and Roman world was based upon masters and slaves. It's not much different today with employees and employers.

Let's define a slave biblically. Look at:

Matthew 8:5-9 (NKJV) Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."

The Greek word for "servant" is pias, which means child. Luke, in the parallel passages, uses the word doulos. So, the centurion's servant was a child. Obviously the centurion cared very much for this child who was his servant.

Matthew 8:7-9 (NKJV) And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." 8 The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. 9 "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant/doulos, 'Do this,' and he does it."

"And I say to my servant 'do this' and he does it." That is a doulos. He is under submission.

Romans 6:16 (NKJV) Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves/doulos to obey, you are that one's slaves/doulos whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

A doulos is one who obeys his master.

Luke 17:7-10 (NKJV) "And which of you, having a servant/doulos plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down to eat'? 8 "But will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink'? 9 "Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'"

A doulos is one who does his duty, a servant or slave. We could also call him an employee. An employee is one who should obey his boss, be in submission to his boss, and do his duty.

Let's look at the biblical description of master. The Greek word in 1 Timothy 6:1 is despots. It is one who has unrestricted, unrestrained sovereign authority. It is used of God and Christ.

Today the word "despot" means a harsh or overbearing cruel ruler. But in the New Testament times it did not carry that connotation.

So a doulos/servant is one who does what he is told, and a is one who rules with unrestricted authority.

You might ask, "What does this have to do with me today? We no longer have slavery in America." First of all, don't think of the servant/master relationship in the sense of racial slavery in early America. In New Testament time, slavery was an accepted economic system, it was even honored. Paul was proud to be a doulos of Jesus Christ. Peter, James, and Jude called themselves doulos. Jesus was called the doulos of God. The institution of slavery is taken for granted in the Scriptures. The wrong or right of the matter are not argued anywhere in the New Testament. Our Lord did not condemn nor abolish it. For the most part, the slave was better off than their free counterpart. To the original readers of this epistle, slavery was an old established and familiar thing. The system was fine. We need to divorce ourselves from the idea that slavery in the Bible was racial, discriminatory and abusive. It was much like our employee/employer relationship today.

So these two verses are very practical for us today. We are to be good employees. The bottom line of these verses is: verse 1, honor your unsaved boss. Verse 2, respect your Christian boss. We very much need to hear this today.

Colossians 3:22-25 (NKJV) Bondservants/doulos, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.

The principle is this: If you are an employee, you are to obey everything-- not just when the boss is looking, as if to please him. This obedience was only according to the flesh and did not refer to spiritual, or moral relationships.

Colossians 3:23 (NKJV) And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

The employee was to be totally committed to serve his employer as if he were working for the Lord Himself.

Colossians 3:24-25 (NKJV) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

The Lord will reward you for your faithful service or judge you for your slothful service. No matter what your job or task, wherever or for whomever you're working, you're really working for the Lord.

Man was created to work and all of our work is a sacred duty.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

You might say, "I'm a plumber, painter, truck driver, electrician, banker, doctor, or lawyer. What's so sacred about that?" Or, "I wash dishes, clean house, collect garbage, or bag groceries. How is that sacred?" Whatever you do, if you do it for God's glory, it is sacred service.

Remove the line you've drawn between the secular and sacred:

Secular Sacred

Job,

school,

daily duties

Bible reading, Scripture memory, Church attendance, prayer, ministries at the church.

Draw a circle around it all and call it SACRED! Everything you do is in reference to your relationship to God, everything!

In the Old Testament, ministry was largely the responsibility of the few, the priesthood. In the New Testament, all Christians are priests.

1 Peter 2:5 (NKJV) you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:5-6 (NKJV) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Thus, ministry is the work of all the saints. A New Testament ministry is any service rendered by a Christian, who is motivated and empowered by the Holy Spirit, which benefits men and brings glory to God.

Martin Luther said, "The role of the shopkeeper and the role of the housewife are as sacred as the role of clergy and priest in terms of its relationship and reference to God."

William Tyndale said, "There is difference betwixt washing dishes and preaching the Word of God but as touching pleasing God there is no difference at all."

Every job and every task is of spiritual value because when it is integrated into the life of a Christian, it becomes the arena in which that Christian lives out his spiritual existence.

God does not distinguish between secular and spiritual, but only between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the Spirit.

What is happening on the job for you is the single greatest articulation of Christianity that you will ever have in your life time.

You don't have to go to the mission field to serve God, and your ministry doesn't just happen at the church. God desires to be glorified by his saints, whether or not it is in the assembly line or in the pulpit. One will manifest the character of God and bring glory to Him as a missionary, another as a mechanic. Both are needed and will bring glory to God through His use of them according to His purpose.

Christianity is to be lived out in the market place. You must see your job as your sacred duty, it consumes most of a person's waking energies.

The most important thing is not how the job benefits us, but how effective is our work in benefiting those around us, and demonstrating to them the truth of God.

The most hindering force to the conversion of the lost happens in the work place. Where do most people come in contact with Christians? In the market place! It can also be the most effective place for evangelism. I was led to Christ by a co-worker.

Matthew 5:16 (NKJV) "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Where are you most before men? At work!

In verse 1 of 1 Timothy 6, Paul says, "Here's what your attitude at work should be, count your boss worthy of all honor." Your calling is to serve your boss, and in so doing, serve Christ.

William Purkins said of work, "The true end of our lives is to do service to God by serving men."

John Calvin said, "We know that men were created to busy themselves with labor for the common good."

We are to count our boss worthy of "all honor." Honor means respect and service. You are at work to serve the needs of your employer and not yourself.

Honor is to be your attitude and the reason is; "so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed." Don't let your work habits cause people to blaspheme God. The phrase "not be blasphemed" means to speak evil of. The way you work relates to how people will perceive God and biblical teaching.

Romans 2:24 (NKJV) For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written.

Don't cause your boss and co-workers to speak evil of God and the Bible because of your work habits. What do your work habits tell people about God?

Titus 2:9-10 (NKJV) Exhort bondservants/doulosto be obedient to their own to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

What is the motive for our obedience and submission to our employer? "That they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior." This is an astonishing thing we are called upon to do. We look at the doctrine, the message of redemption, the gospel. We see its beauty, its splendor, and its perfection. We see sinful man, born in sin, separated from God, and headed for an eternal hell. We see God's love providing what his holiness demanded, a sinless substitute. Jesus Christ the God-Man dies for our sin.

Romans 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

By placing our faith in Christ, we can be eternally forgiven and delivered. Through the gospel, sinful man can become a child of God. We see its beauty. And then to think that by our daily conduct on the job we can decorate, we can add to its beauty, its splendor, its perfection! That is amazing!

St. Francis said, "The most powerful effective evangelism takes place on the job as you live out your Christianity in the face of unbelievers."

In the next verse, Paul deals with the Christian employee who has a Christian boss.

1 Timothy 6:2 (NKJV) And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.

The word "despise" means to think down, to devalue. Paul is saying, "Don't pull them down from their authority position and make them equal to you. Don't presume on their Christianity and try to get away with doing less work. You are to serve them as you would Christ."

The Puritans use to consider their work their calling. We speak of being called to full-time service but seldom look at secular work as a calling. A Christian in a secular job is no less called than the missionary or the preacher.

Ephesians 6:5-8 (NKJV) Bondservants/doulos, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants/doulos of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

Notice that in verse 7 our service is to be "as to the Lord."God has sovereignly placed you in your job, no matter what it is (as long as it's honorable work). Our purpose in that job is not just to earn a pay check, but to glorify God, that is your ministry.

Chrysostom, commenting on 1 Timothy 6:1-2, said this, "The passionate man who found his slave always gentle and submissive; the inhuman and ferocious man, who found his slave always meek and respectful; the fraudulent man of business, who noticed that his slave never pilfered or told lies. The sensualist, who observed that his slave was never intemperate and always shocked at immodesty; -- all these, even if they were not induced to become converts to the new faith, or even to take much trouble to understand it, would at least at times feel something of respect, if not of awe and reverence, for a creed which produced such results. Where did their slaves learn these lofty principles? Whence did they derive the power to live up to them?"

Many people never willingly darken a Church door; a pastor seldom gets a chance to speak to them. How then is Christianity ever to make contact with them? The best possible way is for a co-worker to show them what Christianity is.

You will be rewarded for your service to Christ, and a large part of your service to Him is your job. You are to adorn the doctrine of God by the way you conduct yourself at work. Meditate on these things!

Berean Bible Church provides this material free of charge for the edification of the Body of Christ. You can help further this work by your prayer and by contributing online or by mailing to:

Berean Bible Church
1000 Chattanooga Street
Chesapeake, VA 23322