This message was presented on June 15, 2014 as part of the 1 Timothy series.
My granddaughter Sarah, will often say, “Grandpa, look at my picture!” I’ll respond, “Good job, Sarah!” Then her sister Emma will say, “Grandpa, look at MY picture!” And I’ll say, “Emma, that is very good!” Then at times Sarah will say, “Grandpa, do you want me to show you my new dance?” And of course, I’ll say, “Sarah, that would be great!” And after affirming her, her little sister Emma, will say, “Grandpa, watch my new dance!” And she’ll try something similar.
Last Sunday, I was eating with Doug and Ruth Decker along with Allison Early at the OWLS Luncheon. We had a great discussion, but not once, did they say, “Hey Bryan, do you want to see my drawing?” Now I’ve seen some of Doug’s drawings, because he is a landscape architect and he’s very good. Ruth never said, “Bryan did you see what I did in this ministry or that?” And neither did Allison draw attention to herself. I was refreshed listening to Allison’s journeys of selling wood veneers so other companies can make cabinets, tables and other products. Why did they not make an issue of their work? Is work something I have to do in order to eat? Does it matter? Sure it does! Let me show you what I mean. Turn to Genesis 2:15,
15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (Gen. 2:15 NKJ)
The word for tend sounds so tame, even lame. It means to serve or to work. Even in perfect environment, before sin entered the human race, God put Adam to work. Work is a good thing. God puts us to work to keep us dependent on Him, but also to improve our environment. The word “keep” means to “watch” or “guard” it. God wanted Adam to work the Garden and continue to improve his area.
The young people learned this at Springhill. It was a great week! There were eighteen youth, ages 12 to 17. We cleaned bathrooms, washed dishes, cleaned bathrooms, pulled weeds, weed whacked, cut rope, wiped off tables, mopped floors, cleaned bathrooms, moved mattresses, cleaned out cabins, cleaned bathrooms, emptied trash, and did I say cleaned bathrooms? Several did not know it was a work camp! On the first day, a few likely thought that it was a chain-gang camp. Can you believe it? The youth are ready to do it again. If your child went, you have an expert at cleaning bathrooms, so I’d encourage you to make sure you give them practice cleaning your bathrooms, because I wouldn’t want them to forget how! It did help that they could play Octoball and do several other activities.
Let me ask the leadership team stand up. Mike and Mary Monfreda did a great ministry of leading, listening and loving them. I love Springhill because we get a week together to get real with Lord, do some work and have some fun.
For Adam, we saw work was for the Lord. Now, God was a perfect supervisor. What if yours is not perfect? How should you work on your job? What is your relationship to your employer? Do you get special privileges if he is a believer? Is work there because it’s something you have to do in order to survive?
1) Honor Your Supervisor like you would honor Jesus 6:1-2
The first two verses of chapter six could have been placed with chapter five, which taught how to honor the family of God, honor widows and honor spiritual leaders. Paul continues here how servants were to honor masters and to show work was a testimony of life serving the Lord.
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. (1 Tim. 6:1 NKJ)
The word “bondservant” is correct, but the word doulos really means “slave without rights, but to obey the master.” The word “masters” is despotas, from which we get despot and means “one with absolute authority and ownership.” How many of you work for someone who has absolute authority and ownership over your work and where you live?
We can’t put ourselves in the position of these slaves. They are “under the yoke,” which was not a benevolent relationship. They were treated not much better than oxen. In Exodus. 21:2, the slave could be purchased, but for only six years,
If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. (Ex. 21:2 NKJ)
If a master maimed a servant, he was to be set free,
26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye. 27 “And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth. (Ex. 21:26-27 NKJ)
The slave could continue as a professional slave by getting his ear pierced. In our society people want a handout, but our attitude should be that we want to give a hand in to help others. Notice what God says happens when slaves did not serve well, “…so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.” Both the character of God and the Word of God are blasphemed. Most people think of four-letter words when they think of blasphemy. That certainly would be included, but that is a small part of blasphemy.
Blasphemy means to “make light of God.” Paul used it in Acts 26:11 for the unbelievers and their blasphemous lives. But he also used it of Roman believers who were living in disobedience, which were described as blasphemous. Paul said he was formerly a blasphemer in 1 Tim. 1:13. In James 2:7, one who treated others with favoritism was a blasphemer. Yes, if you show partiality or favoritism toward others, you are being blasphemous! How is that? God is no respecter of persons. He never shows partiality.
When a believer shows favoritism, he is revealing that God is something He is not. That’s blasphemy! Peter taught that reviling or putting down believers was blasphemous, or teaching false doctrine was blasphemous. And consider in Titus 2:5 that a lazy, young woman who was not discipled by the older women to love her husband, take care of the home and raise godly children could be guilty of blasphemy! Instead, slaves were to bless their master!
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. (1 Tim. 6:2 NKJ)
If the master was a believer, the slave should seek to bless the master all the more, because he could be used by God to bless (1 Pet. 3:8-10). What? Bless the one who tells me what to do? That doesn’t make sense! They were to serve based on truth, not feelings, likes or desires.
It’s hard to bless those who have it better than us. How do you do it? Count the position worthy of honor. Regardless of personal conflict, gripes, fuss, or trouble work to bless the master. Go to work with a good mental attitude and do not despise or literally think down about or against. Why does Paul say this? Many masters were harsh. Listen to these two passages,
5 Bondservants, 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 eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants 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. 9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. (Eph. 6:5-9 NKJ)
“Fear and trembling.” Why? Because it is “as to the Lord.” Your boss is not your boss, Jesus is! Listen to what Peter wrote,
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: (1 Pet. 2:18-21 NKJ)
Peter made is clear that if the slave was wrong, he should endure the punishment with patience. But if the slave was doing the right thing, AND he was punished AND he endured if patiently, without defending himself, then God would right the wrong. Jesus was our example. He suffered under the unjust authority of man. Yet, He remained under that unjustness, for your sake and mine. He blessed all of us while He went through the unjust treatment.
Here’s the problem. These slaves Paul wrote about were believers and had learned some doctrine. They learned that if they were free in Christ then first, why should they not rebel against their physical slavery on earth? Secondly, why should the slave not be treated as a brother or sister if the master is a believer in Christ?
Let me give you some background. In the NT times, there were approximately 60 million slaves. Slavery was universally practiced and approved by ancient nations by both philosophy and law. As noted above, it was oppressive – “under the yoke” with absolute authority from the despot over the slave.
The solution for the slave was to consider the master worthy of honor. This was a command to always do this in spite of the circumstances. The issue was not what their master was like, but what was their responsibility before God. We so easily get our eyes on the other person for improving our situation. Do you know that everything you need for happiness is contained in your soul, if you would merely take in study of God’s word? If God the Holy Spirit indwells you, then God the Father and Son indwell you and “in the presence of the Lord is the fullness of Joy.”
Now everyone will not always agree with this. They want their “rights.” They want to do it their way. They will follow some of the rules, but they will hold onto what they want to do. They are contentious.
2) Honor Jesus by withdrawing from contentiousness 6:3-5
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. (1 Tim. 6:3-5 NKJ)
Choose to submit to the Lordship of Jesus and His doctrine. There will be many others who teach otherwise, like “you can do what you want,” or “it’s not that important,” or “just work at your own pace.” How does Paul describe him? He is proud, knowing nothing AND he is obsessed with disputes and arguments. This is not very complimentary. Furthermore you can see the result of these kinds of people. They produce six things. They produce: 1) envy, 2) strife, 3) reviling, 4) evil suspicions, 5) useless wrangling from corrupt thinking, and 6) perverted thinking about godliness as a means of gain. They blame others for their problems, or produce strife between people, or run down people, or are suspicious of what people say and they twist what people say, because they don’t want to know the truth. Paul says, “Withdraw from them.” In Philippians, Paul said, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Phil. 2:14). Why? We don’t want to blaspheme God! What is the point?
Jesus is your Boss! Work for excellence and without grumbling!
- Believers should do their work as if Christ was the boss. Spiritual equality does not set aside authority. God loves the believer in management as much as the labor. There is a tendency to take advantage of Christian management. Working for a believer should intensify production. No believer has the right to be late and have privileges not given to others. As a Christian, I should be the best employee. Brotherhood demands better service, not less.
- No matter how menial the job, it should be done with maximum efficiency. We have a tendency of comparison. Why can’t I have what they have? Remember those with more have greater responsibility and accountability. Always rejoice with what you have, because if we are not content with what we have, we will not be content with more. div. contentment.
- God sees every situation Heb. 4:13, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. Leave if you can’t serve well. Do your best.
Message Based Discussion Questions
- What was your first work assignment like?
- Do people think work is good or bad? ________________ Is work good or bad? _____________ How would you help a young person understand that work is good? What passages of Scripture would you dig up to help them see God’s way?
- Is slavery permissible in Scripture? __________ What do the following passages teach about the master/slave relationship (Lev. 25:39-46; Deut. 24:18-22; Rom. 6:16-22)?
- In 1 Peter 2:18-25, did Peter communicate that his audience should rebel against masters if they were slaves? ______________ What did he communicate? What do we learn from Christ’s example?
Making Application to life:
- How should this passage influence our attitude and actions in the work environment today?
- What does God want for us as believers in a lost world to reflect through our work?
- If a young person has not been taught how to work at home and hasn’t been assigned chores to teach ownership in the family, how would you disciple him/her to God’s way?