Lesson 11

The Christian and Work

(Colossians 3, Ecclesiastes 9, 1 Corinthians 10)
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Introduction: Assuming you are an employee, what do you think about your employer?  Is your employer good, bad, or something in between?  How about your supervisor? Good, bad, or something in between? Now, the critical question - does the quality of your work vary based on how much you like your employer or your supervisor?  Have you ever thought that you are really working for God, and not your employer? This is just one aspect of the picture of the Christian employee that we discuss in this lesson. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1.         Good Work For Bad Employers

  1.         Read Colossians 3:23-24. Who should we consider to be our true employer? (God!)

  1.         You may respond, “Obviously, God is not my employer. I know who signs my paycheck!” Why does God claim to be our true employer? (He will be “signing” your paycheck. Notice the text says “you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” God will ultimately reward you for being an excellent employee.)

  1.         Read Psalms 75:6-7. If you can read it in the Kings James version, do so. Who does this say promotes us? (God!)

  1.         Consider this, if God both promotes (or demotes) us, and God ultimately rewards us for excellent work, should we reasonably consider God our employer?

  1.         Read Ecclesiastes 9:10. Aside from the idea of working for God, what should be the quality of our work? (The word “might” could be translated “vigor” or a “large lizard” according to Strong’s. This may make you laugh, but the consistent thread is strength. Work hard - don’t sleep on the job.)

  1.         On what does Solomon base his theory of work? (We have a limited time on earth to work. Make the best use of it.)

  1.         Read 1 Corinthians 10:31. Is this consistent with the text we just read from Ecclesiastes? (Yes! By being an excellent, hardworking employee we reflect well on God. If every Christian employee were hardworking and worked with excellence, employers would be begging to hire a Christian.)

  1.         In the United States we have an unprecedented situation. Tens of millions of people have broken our laws and are illegally living here. If they could not find jobs, presumably they would leave. For that reason it is illegal to hire someone who is here illegally. This makes it obvious that millions of employers are also violating the law. Why is this? How can this massive resistance to the law be explained? (Whenever an employer talks to me about breaking this law, they never say, “I can pay them less,” instead they say, “they work hard.” Unemployment among Christians would disappear if they had this same reputation.)

  1.         Blessings of Work

  1.         We just discussed how Christian employees should be a real blessing to their employers, what about the impact on employees of working hard and seeking excellence? Read Ecclesiastes 3:9 and Ecclesiastes 3:12-13. This says that work is a gift that brings joy. Is that your experience?

  1.         If your answer is “no,” are you working for your employer as if you were working for God?

  1.         Over the years I’ve read many labor union publications. They are all the same - the employer is bad and mistreats union members. If you believed that, would work be a joy?

  1.         Let’s assume that you have a bad employer, because we all know they exist. If you work as if you are working for God does that mean you should continue to work for a bad employer? (God tells us about our general approach to work. God does not tell us that we have to work for a specific employer. Change jobs if you are not finding joy in your job.)

  1.         Notice a detail in Ecclesiastes 3:13. What, specifically, is the link between work and pleasure? (You enjoy spending the money you make. Work hard, earn good money, and enjoy your earnings - “this is God’s gift to man.”)        

  1.         Read Genesis 3:17-19. How can we be expected to find joy in work when hard work is part of a curse? (If you exercise hard, how do you feel? I feel great!  I recall walking out of the gym feeling extremely relaxed like I just had a massage. Manual work can be just like that. Of course, it can also be painful.)

  1.         Read Acts 20:34. This text is one reference to the fact that the evangelist Paul supported himself as a tentmaker when he traveled sharing the word of God. Do you question the logic of this? Why not spend 100% of your time sharing the gospel, and let others support your ministry? Why not spend your time on what matters the most? (Read Acts 20:35. Paul tells us that he worked as an example to us. That suggests that encouraging work is a high priority. Earlier, Solomon wrote about how we should enjoy what we earn. Here, Paul tells us that we feel good about our work because it allows us to provide for others.)

  1.         Opportunities at Work

  1.         Let’s revisit 1 Corinthians 10:31. What percentage of your waking hours are spent at work?

  1.         Is sharing the gospel part of giving glory to God?

  1.         If so, should we do it at work?

  1.         Read Luke 6:27-28. If you are not enjoying your work, how much of the problem is that you have to work with people who are not Christians?

  1.         Does work present a unique opportunity to learn this lesson?

  1.         Read Matthew 10:14. What does this teach us about witnessing at work? (If someone says that they don’t want to hear it, then stop. No badgering. This is not only a Biblical principle, it is a legal principle in the United States.)

  1.         Examples of Excellence

  1.         Read Exodus 25:31-34. Contemplate for a moment the beauty of this lampstand. Why would God want it made of gold and be this ornate?

  1.         Read Exodus 36:1. Could you make something as ornate as that lampstand? (This tells us that God put the skill and intelligence in the craftsmen. This is a gift God can give to you.)

  1.         Read Mark 13:1. The texts we read about the lampstand were part of the instructions on how to build the tabernacle in the wilderness. This text describes its successor - the temple in Jerusalem. What did the temple look like?

  1.         Those who built the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were literally “working for God.”  Is this the benchmark that Christians should aspire to when they are employed by secular employers? (According what we already studied, we are all working for God. So, yes, excellence is the standard.)

  1.         A number of thoughts are going through my mind. I’ve heard some Christians criticize expensive churches by noting the money could have been spent on the poor. How do you explain God’s directions for His temple?

  1.         In our local worship service the members are dressed very informally. Those speaking from the front often wear shorts. Is this consistent with the temple in Jerusalem?

  1.         Read 1 Timothy 2:9. Does the excellence of the tabernacle and temple not extend to our clothing?

  1.         If you (like Paul) say “no,” why would excellence then extend to our work? (I think the overall answer involves the question, “to whom are we giving glory?” The temple, the church, our work give glory to God. Spending the money on yourself gives glory to you.)

  1.         What would Solomon say?  He says to enjoy what you have earned?

  1.         Read John 12:26 and 1 Samuel 2:30. Is honor appropriate for humans? (Yes, the Bible tells us that if we honor God, He will honor us.)

  1.         What would you expect to be the result of a life spent working with diligence and excellence? (That person would be honored by God.)

  1.         Friend, work is a blessing! It gives you joy and a feeling of accomplishment. It provides a basis for you to help others. God calls us to work with excellence as if we were working for Him. All of this contains a reward from God - He will honor you. If you sense you don’t have the right attitude about work, why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to change your attitude?

  1.         Next week: Sabbath: Experiencing and Living the Character of God.

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