Ephesians 6:5-9 God sees and rewards
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
As work life occupies most of our waking hours, living out the truth and evangelizing our world involves having the right attitude towards work. First, workers must give respect and honor to superiors as to God. They must work out of a sense of duty and sincerity giving their level best in service to God and to man. Knowing that God keeps record of every good they do and will reward them in His way and time. Superiors must also learn to cultivate the workers and be gracious to them and not to threaten them, knowing that all have an impartial Master in heaven.
Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ.
Paul urges bondservants to honor and obey their earthly masters. Bondservants in those days refer to slaves who are as possessions over which their masters have total rights. In today’s context, the ethics of work concerning the bondservants can be applied to salaried employees in general and they are to honor and obey their superiors as they do to Christ. In other words, their obedience towards their bosses within the scope of work is a reflection of their attitude of obedience towards Christ, with fear and trembling, and with a sincere heart. Fear and trembling denotes sincere respect and commitment to the master’s course; it does not refer to an intimidation when one’s well being is threatened. A total dedication to the master’s agenda with added integrity and simplicity: with a sincere heart, not for selfish reasons but in truth and honor towards God.
Not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.
Eye-service means attendance to duty only when being watched; his work stems not from a sense of responsibility and duty, but to cast a deceptive picture of his commitment to work. People-pleasing describes an intention to cast a favorable impression of oneself through curry favoring his boss and colleagues. Paul urges believers to see work as a means to serve God: doing the will of God from the heart, where the worker is directly accountable to God for the quality of his work. They are also to be passionate and take joy in providing a good service to man, as serving God with an attitude of excellence.
Knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
Here is a promise from God, that any good one does, whether known or hidden will be rewarded by Him. Man may take your credit, but God keeps record of all the good that one does. This applies to salaried workers, the housewives or missionaries out in the harvest field. As long as good work is done out of honor for God and sincerity of heart for the benefit of others, God will reward in His time and no man can rob you of God’s reward: whether he is a bondservant or is free.
Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.
Paul urges managers to deal fairly with their workers by rewarding them according to their true contribution and not for their eye-service or curry favors. Managers are not to terrorize and provoke their employees into submission but treat them graciously as God is the universal Master who will deal with everyone according to their works.
- Man usually rewards a worker by his performance and by his perceived future value. Whereas God rewards a worker by his faithfulness and a right attitude shown in his work: rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man. He evaluates all workers base on their motives and attitudes regardless of their religious affiliations. God’s reward system for work is mostly non-monetary: divine wisdom and insight to solve complex problems, gifts of administrative, faith, honor and greater authority etc. God sometimes test a worker’s motivations and attitudes of work by withholding his full reward for a time. Having said that, no one could hinder God’s desire to reward the people who deserve it: Knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
- Managers need to know their worker’s strengths and weaknesses and not to threaten them into something that is beyond them: Masters, … stop your threatening, but encourage them by giving them time and by equipping them. By doing so, you take unnecessary stress off their work and allow them to be more creative and productive. As managers and individual contributors, be concerned over the things that they have control over and leave the uncontrollables to God. It is God who prospers us; our responsibility is solely to accomplish what God has given me to do at the present.
- A culture of honor and dedication towards God and the leaders of the company brings passion and excellence to work: Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart. Considering the Japanese work culture of the 1980’s that has brought the world many innovative products is a result of a culture of honor and allegiance to authority. At the same time, seeing work as a means to contribute to the wellbeing of society creates a strong passion for work excellence. The glamorizing of personalities in some industries that became rich has misconstrued God’s original design for work. Work is no longer about contribution to society and dedication to one’s calling but as a means for personal gain. It is no wonder that many driven by the prospects of a better life felt apathetic in the daily grind of work. Hence, in the selection of career direction, many prefer commercial value to personal calling.
- Believers are called to be salt and light to the world of darkness and injustice. Therefore, it is natural that the workplace is filled with injustice, unfair practices, vengeance, incompetence and selfishness. Hence, believers must continue to depend on God to do what they can in their capacity to honor their superiors, to work with sincerity and goodwill, as working for God and not for man.
- What things motivate you at the work place? Rank the following motivations: Money, Vision, Interest, Relationships at the workplace, and Personal Development. When a person is trying to pay off his debt, money is rightly the most important. When a person is fresh out of school, personal development is probably the most important. However, in the long run, vision is the most important because it drives work significance and passion.
- Gossiping and politicking is one of the worst diseases in any company. It is a sign of deterioration in the culture of respect for authority and for one another. How could you in your capacity help rectify this problem?
Dear Lord, I acknowledge that you have placed me in the current job so that I may grow in my capacity to contribute to the society through my work. Mould me into one that respects authority even though they may not be perfect. Develop me and increase my capacity as a team player to function in an imperfect environment. Use me as salt and light to bring hope and healing to the people around me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.