Pastor Mike Gerhardt, September 1, 2019, Work to Change the World, 1 Peter 2:18-21 We have been studying David's Passion for work and worship. Just be clear David did not work to be saved. His passion was a thanksgiving to God for salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10 makes this clear.
Introduction. What is Labor Day all about? Labor Day is a federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September and what a misnomer!! Most of us don't work on Labor Day. It should be called No Labor Day. In 1882 as the Central Labor Union (of New York City) sought to create “a day off for the working citizens.” Congress made it a federal holiday on June 28, 1894, two months after the May Day Riots of 1894. All fifty states have made it a state holiday. Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer, though summer doesn't end until September 22. (I am going to enjoy my summer until the 22nd). The celebration was outlined in the first proposal - a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps (e spree de core) of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival or picnic for the workers and their families. Speeches by prominent people were introduced later. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday proceeding it was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement. It now just marks the end of summer & the beginning of football season.
Peter departs from the culture of his day and teaches a radically different way to live. He elevates submission for the Lord's sake to every authority (see verse 2:13-17). As people of God who are redeemed for Kingdom purposes, we must submit to authorities over us. In Ephesians 6:5-8, Paul outlines a similar encouragement. We find serval valuable statements. The first thing we discover is that Employees work for the Lord. Most people want to work for God but only in an advisory position. Paul and Peter use slavery as a way to address all work. Now a word about slavery: Aristotle regarded slaves as nothing more than “living tools”. Philemon, a member of the first-century church, owned slaves of whom Onesimus was one. During the first century, there were an estimated 60 million slaves in a world of only 200 million over thirty percent. God ordained work, marriage, family, and justice before sin came into the world. But God never ordained nor created slavery. The sabbatical year of rest and the celebration of the year of Jubilee were on the Jewish calendar for the nation of Israel to release any slaves and allow them their freedom. God wanted the slaves to be freed. There has been a grave perversion of scripture to justify the slave trade in the past centuries, make sure you know that it is not scriptural.
I have mentioned this Chinese proverb before: If a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave to the one who directs him. But, if a man does more than is required and goes far above the task, he is truly a free man. Slaves usually have nothing externally to gain from diligence but remember Joseph at Potiphar’s house and in the jail. When he showed initiative and enthusiasm for the work, he showed his freedom from men. The problem in our society is that not everyone who seeks a job is looking for work and not everyone who wants a promotion is looking for more responsibility. The quality of our work from Ephesians 6:5 should be: Respectful: the NASV translates both words fear and trembling. Righteous comes from the Greek which means singleness of heart. Consistent: not just when the boss is looking. Wholehearted: the heart is mentioned here three times. Ask yourself: is your heart into this work? This was to be done as serving the Lord, not AS IF. The implication is that we are serving the Lord through our work. He is our supreme allegiance. Attitude is everything. Our reward is an abundant life now with peace and joy, and an eternal gain in heaven whether we are slaves or free, that is how we can work for His Kingdom now. Reason: for work is to please the Lord and provide for others.1 Timothy 6:1-2 All, who are under the yoke of slavery, should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them. Titus 2:9-10 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. Employers work for the Lord. Read Ephesians 6:9. The quality of your work should be without abusive words, attitude and actions. When I was in the secular workforce, it was permissible for a boss to scream at a worker with foul vulgar language in degrading terms. I know because I was yelled out, not regularly mind you but enough to remember. Bosses must treat their workers with fairness. Colossians 4:1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
Employers must pay with generous compensation. Jesus said, “We must do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Remember the smallest deed is better than the greatest intention. As an employer, Jesus is our master. Jesus shows no favoritism. You must do the same as Jesus with your employees. Ben Franklin said, “Work as if you were to live 100 years, pray as if you were to die tonight.” I would add work for the Lord as if you were to die tonight. What do your coworkers think of you? If you believe you are in a job in which you cannot give God glory, even indirectly, then you may want to consider changing jobs. I still believe you can serve each cup of coffee as if you are serving Jesus, put that tire back on that car praying for God to be glorified, writing up that contract as if the Lord was watching every word and knowing you have done what is right and just. Verla Gilmore a radio host addressed problems at work: 1. Identify the real problem. Could you be the problem? Do a self-check. Could you be the solution? 2. Take charge of your attitude. Complaining is deadly. If you’re waiting for things to be perfect, it will be a long wait. 3. Sort out what you can and can’t do. Pray for wisdom and discernment. 4. Detach from the problem. Step back and see it from the other person. 5. Live in the present. Don’t think what should have been done, nor think of the future so much that you are disgusted with the now. Work for the Lord and not for the shareholders, your boss, the big raise, or the corner office. Work for the Lord. Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Do it all for Him.
David wrote in Psalm 84:10 Better is one day in Your courts than 1000 elsewhere; I'd rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of the wicked.