Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Colossians 3:22-4:1
Slavery was a large part of the economy in the Roman Empire. People became slaves for a variety of reasons: as an obligation of debt, as a punishment for a crime, or as a prisoner of war. Considering that Paul addresses major categories of the Colossian church in chapter three: wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves and masters, the assumption would be that a large part of this church was slaves. Paul has more to say to slaves than to anyone else here.
Slavery seems like such a distant thing to us. We are separated by generations and cultures from its affects, yet according to the Harvard Gazette Online, there are 12 million slaves in the world today, including in the United States. (http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/02/slavery-in-2010/) To make this a little more personal, the Bible tells us that if we are in debt, then we are slaves to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).
Yet, slavery does not touch most of us in any personal way. Let’s turn this discussion from slaves and masters to employees and employers. This verse would sound like this:
“Employees obey your boss in everything. Do it, not just when they are supervising you to score some points, but sincerely and reverently for the Big Boss, God Himself. Whatever you do, entering data, sweeping floors, building cars, fixing computers, engineering tires, serving food, marketing products, selling shoes, writing devotionals, making music, editing video, caring for children, whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.
Put your whole self into it. Sing every song like it’s your favorite. Manufacture or service a product like it’s your own. Prepare and serve food to your honored guests. Care for children who will be mechanics, politicians, nurses, attorneys, police officers, teachers, doctors, business people, sales reps, engineers and computer technicians. Most importantly, give it all you’ve got because the Lord is your number one customer, patient or client. People don’t always deserve our best. But, God always deserves our best effort.
If you do wrong, you will pay for the wrong. It doesn’t matter who you are, no one will get away with treating others poorly, stealing, taking shortcuts, or being lazy.
If you’re the boss, treat your employees fairly, because you still have to answer to the Big Boss, God Himself. Appreciate your employees for their successes. Encourage them to develop their gifts and skills. Don’t micromanage them to the point of discouragement. As the leader, raise the morale. You will have happy, effective employees who produce stellar work.
How’s your attitude at work these days? Whether you work in an office, a factory, your car, a school or at home, you are working for the Big Boss.
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