As you all know that we are doing an expository preaching through the book of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, the name of the series is “God Alive Church”
Why “God Alive Church”?
The name “God Alive Church” is because these books educate and express God’s heart of what an ideal church should look like, a church that is Alive and nor dead, a church that is fulfilling the purpose of its existence, a Church that is living out an exemplary life in every way, setting an example to the world around by her actions and words and lifestyle.
A church that is truly in love with her to-be Groom, her lover, her saviour – Jesus Christ, who left his heavenly glory and stooped down to express his love by saving us from the clutches of our sin, arrogance & rebellion, paid the penalty of our sin by dying on the cross and promising us eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
The Church of Christ is meant to be much more than what we have thought of, heard of, imagined of. And I believe these letters give us the right perspective, an understanding and glimpses of Jesus’s heart from his bride.
And imagine, the church that Jesus loves, the church we are talking about is US, bunch of people who are still unsorted in life, people who still struggle with our indwelling sins, people who are still immature in so many ways, people who still have doubts in our head, people who’re yet to understand and acquire the full knowledge of God’s love in so many ways.
And dealing with people especially sinful people like us is the most difficult task. And I believe these letters written by Paul to the church of Ephesus lays down a list of practical and solid foundations of what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ especially in our actions, our words, our conduct, our behaviour, our lifestyle, the way we deal with false and corrupt teachers, the way we care for the poor and needy, the way we treat the elders God has placed over us.
It is amazing to see how Jesus cares about every single detail of our lives as he continues to refine and purify our hearts, sanctify us in every possible way to present us as a holy and spotless bride before God the Father.
The reason I’m emphasizing on this is because in times of struggle and despair it is so easy for us to entertain thoughts like God doesn’t care, he doesn’t love, he’s absent from my lives. In the light of what we’re learning from these letters I want to encourage you to see how much God cares about every single detail of your life. I want you to see how concerned he is for you, how committed he is to help us see him clearly and to live for him and for his glory.
Often times we look for answers in the wrong place. But God, in so many ways have already spoken and expressed himself in the scriptures that all we have to do is to dive into this precious book, learn the truths about God, his purpose for our lives and the glorious life he has promised for us in heaven.
Today’s passage which is 1 Timothy 6:1-2 is one of those verses that show us how deep God is involved in our everyday life.
As you see here Paul is talking very specifically to a certain group of people and they are the ones who are under the yoke as bondservants.
Who are these bondservants that Paul is talking to?
A bondservant in bible times were slaves – “the ones who were prepared to obey to, and entirely at the disposal of their masters”. During the time of Jesus and the first-century church, it is said that as much as one third of the Roman population were slaves.
Historical records reveal that it was not unusual for Jews to own slaves during the New Testament period. Because slavery was a familiar part of the culture, Jesus sometimes referred to slaves and owners in His parables (e.g., Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 12:41-48).
Since we’re talking about slavery, as a side note I was surprised to read an article on The wall street journal website posted last year that states India as one of the top countries with the most number of slaves, around 18 million of them in many forms, from domestic to sexual to bonded and child labor. Something we all need to pray about and take action as the Lord leads.
But I want to point you to another kind of subtle slavery in which we live, the one that we often don’t seem to notice and are barely concerned about, it’s called wage slavery.
Wikipedia defines Wage slavery as
“Wage slavery is usually used to refer to a situation where a person’s livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.”
At thing point I am not going to comment whether it is good or bad, I do have my opinion on it but I will save it for another day and time. All I want to point here is that if we have to contextualize the people to whom Paul is addressing as bondservants in verse 1 then it applies to all of us who work in the corporate world. If bondservant hood was the culture in Jesus’s time then “Wage Slavery” is the culture of the present age.
What Paul goes on to say in the next verses is “regard your masters (which in our bosses and managers) as worthy of all honour.
Now, that may sound pretty scary to some of you’ll. But this is the word of the Lord says. And I especially like the reasoning Paul gives on why we need conduct in this manner with our bosses and managers.
He says “so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled”. The Amplified version of the bible puts it this way “so that the name of God and the teaching [about Him] will not be spoken against.”
In Ephesians 6:5-8 Paul gives another perspective on how salves need to serve their masters.
He says “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”
What Paul is essentially saying is that the way in which we conduct ourselves towards our earthly masters (our employers) defines whether or not we are living for the glorify of God’s name and whether or not we are being a true witness of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
In the light of Paul’s comments the question we need to ask is how are some ways in which we dishonour earthly boss’s and manager that makes them look down on us or speak against the God we worship and make our testimony ineffective at workplace.
So, I want to share 5 such areas where we fail in our workplace which leads our hearts to stop giving our best and makes us look down on our earthly masters, eventually failing to glorifying God and make the most of Jesus in our lives.
1. When we fail to see our work as a gift from God & our workplace as an opportunity to serve
Many Christians hold a decidedly unbiblical view of work. Some view it as a curse, or at least as part of the curse of living in a fallen world. Others make a false distinction between what they perceive as the sacred—serving God—and the secular—everything else. And others make it into an idol, expecting it to provide them with their identity and purpose in life as well as being a source of joy and fulfilment that only God can provide.
Here’s an interesting verse from Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 that gives a good perspective on how we should view our toiling under the sun.
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.
Beloved, our jobs are a gift from God that enables us to provide for our families and to enjoy life. When I think of hundreds and thousands of people who struggle to find a decent job to give a good life to their family it makes me happy to know that God has always blessed me with the right job at the right time.
Think about it – It was because of a decent job at the beginning of my career that enabled me to get married and think of having a family. It was because of a decent job that paid me enough I am able to bring my children and provide for them. I can think of much better and talented people who could have done my job better than me but God chose to bless me with it.
Work allows us to exercise the gifts and abilities God gives each person, whether paid or unpaid. God expects adults to provide for themselves and for the family. Scripture says, “If one will not work, neither let him eat!”.
1 Timothy 5:8 – But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Ephesians 6:8 says “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”
This verse helps us to see and consider our jobs as an opportunity to serve the Lord and his people.
Beloved, if you’ve never seen it this way before I want to encourage your hearts to see your jobs as a gift from God and as an opportunity to serve.
You see, by doing so you will guard your heart from giving in to bitterness and anguish that often turns our hearts against our earthly masters.
The second reason we fail to glorify God in our workplace is ..
2. When we fail to empathize with the fallen state of our earthly bosses
Our human tendency is always to takes thing personally when we don’t get the appreciation that we think we deserve from our bosses. I hear people always complain that their bosses don’t appreciate their work, is such nasty guy, arrogant and selfish.
But here’s the thing we need to know about our earthly bosses and ourselves.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” – Ephesians 2:3
The verse remind us of the fallen state of mankind on how deceitful and desperately sick people are because of their sins, and we can empathize with them because we too were once slaves to sins indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind.
I remember working for this company where we had this senior guy who took a team review meet at the end of every week where each one of us were asked to present the status of our work. At the beginning I always went back from these meeting discouraged because he would always criticize our work and never appreciated the ideas we would present before him, and the funny thing was instead he would take our ideas and present it back to us in another meeting as if it was his idea.
In my early days I tried my best to be better every time I met him until one day I decided to see him the way he is wired because of his fallen state and began to empathize with him and pray for him and never took his nasty comments seriously. You see, It helped me approach the situation in a different way and God showed his favour. When I left the organization he appreciated me for my talents and sent me with his blessings.
Beloved, there are people in this world who are so deep down in their sin that no matter how hard you wish they’d change they will never change unless we present our Saviour Jesus who changed our lives. And we can only do that if our lifestyle, attitude and hard work glorifies God and presents the teaching of Jesus as authentic and truly life changing.
The third reason we fail to glorify God in our workplace is ..
3. When we fail to respond in love and forgiveness
When things don’t go our way, when our boss start acting too bossy, when the culture at work become dominating and frustrating – Our natural response is always to become angry, throw tantrums and nurture hatred in our hearts. Instead the scripture encourages us to consider forgiving our masters and respond in love.
Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
1 Cor 13:4-7 – Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The scripture teaches us to be patient and kind, not to be arrogant and rude. It encourages us to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things until God opens another door.
Have you heard of people who throw their jobs away, write hate mails to their bosses because they are angry and full of hatred? If you’ve not heard of such a story then I can tell you one.
Unfortunately and shamefully I have to admit that I once did that in one of my early days where I was so angry with my boss because of his arrogant behaviour that I ran away without even informing him and even sent a hate mail. I so regret my behaviour and wish someone had preached this sermon to me.
But instead of reacting in our anger if can respond to that situation in love and show a forgiving heart, by doing so we will protect our hearts from sinning against our bosses and will end up glorifying our
God and his teachings even more.
The fourth reason we fail to glorify God in our workplace is ..
4. When we fail to diligently & faithfully complete the tasks assigned to us
Proverbs 10:4 – Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Proverbs 12:24 – The hand of the diligent will rule, But the slack hand will be put to forced labor.
Please note that it not always the fault of our bosses and managers that puts us in a situation that’s frustrating and unproductive. Most often it is also our faults when we fail to diligently and faithfully complete the tasks assigned to us.
It could be because of our pride that we sometimes don’t work diligently and faithfully, or just shear laziness that prevents us from giving our best. And If that is true about us than we need to repent of our sins and ask God for forgiveness.
Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”
Proverbs 13:4 – “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.”
Blaming our employer for the absence of growth in our lives because of our lazy and proud attitude is an absolute foolishness. It even projects us as a bad example to the unbelieving world bringing shame to our Christian family name. It allows people to criticize our faith and belief in Jesus and his teachings.
The fifth reason we fail to glorify God in our workplace is ..
5. When we fail to rely on God as our provider
One other common complaint we often hear from working professionals is their dissatisfaction with their monthly paycheck which I believe often leads our hearts to not giving our best at work and look down on our employer.
In a situation like this would you consider thinking of God as the one who provides your monthly income and not your employer?
1 Chronicles 29:12. “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.”
Even though it is our employer who signs out monthly paycheck I want to remember that ultimately it is God who is our provider. We need to settle down in our heart that what God has provisioned for you at this season of our life is the best.
In Proverbs 30:8-9 the author writes
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
You see, God knows the right balance for his children. He won’t give us too much that will lead our hearts astray and wont give us too less that will make us steal and profane his name.
The right balance to enjoying prosperity is in conjunction with the prosperity of our soul. In 3 John 1:2
John makes a prayer and says “Beloved, I pray that in every way you may prosper and enjoy good health, as your soul also prospers.”
And therefore instead of worrying too much about our pay check I suggest that we should be more concerned about protecting our soul from getting corrupted and believe that as your soul prospers in God you may also prosper all other godly things.
And finally in 1 Timothy 6:2 Paul goes on to say
Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.
First of all, It is blessing if you get to serve under an employer who is a believer. You need to be thankful to God. Paul’s encouragement to these people is that they must serve their masters even better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.