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Sabbath School Lessons on The Spiritual Life - Experiencing Jesus Christ as Lord
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 10: Lord of Our Labor *
Introduction: What kind of employee should a Christian be? Should
your religious beliefs affect your secular work? If we are a good
worker, does that reflect on our God? Does the Bible give us
practical instruction on our daily work? Should we be part of a labor
union? Let's get to work on our lesson!
- The Christian Employee
- Read Colossians 3:22. This text is addressed to "slaves."
I doubt that any of the people reading this lesson are
literal slaves. What reasons should this advice apply to
employees? What reasons should it not? (The difference
between an employee and a slave is that the employee can
quit his job whenever he wants. In addition, the slave
holder is unlikely to be "firing" his slave. If a slave,
who cannot be fired should follow this advice, how much
more should an employee who can be fired? It seems that if
you do not want to follow the advice for slaves with your
present employer, you should change jobs.)
- If we agree that this is relevant advice to employees
who want to keep their present job, what does this
verse teach us about our need for supervision?
- Do you work differently when your boss is on
- Notice that Paul ties being a good employee not
simply to winning the favor of the boss, but with
"sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord."
What does spirituality have to do with being a
diligent employee? (Paul believes there is an
unspecified link between our relationship to God and
being a good employee.)
- Read Colossians 3:23-24. Paul now reveals the link between
our spirituality and secular work. What is it? (We are to
consider that God is our employer! We should work just as
if we were working for God.)
- Why is that? (Paul tells us that God will pay us. He
will reward us with an inheritance.)
- Why would God link our secular work to our
religious obligations? (God must believe that
the quality of our work reflects upon Him.)
- Read Colossians 3:25. Will God punish us if we wrong our
- Let's read Colossians 4:1 to give a balanced view. What
does God require of employers? (God tells employers that
they are ultimately responsible to Him, thus they should
be "right and fair" with their employees.)
- Labor Unions
- Read Luke 3:14. How would this advice from Jesus relate to
an employee's decision on whether or not to join a labor
- How would it impact on an employee's decision to
strike? (If you accept Paul's advice in Colossians to
work as if you were working for God, and you add
Jesus' advice to be content with your wages and not
extort money, I do not see any room for striking.
Striking, especially violent strikes where the
employer's property is damaged and replacement
workers are terrorized, is extortion.)
- Would Jesus' advice to be "content with our pay" mean
we cannot change our job? (If you think about Jesus'
advice to soldiers, He is saying "Don't supplement
your pay by shaking people down for money." That
would apply to the strike question, but it would not
seem to prevent us from changing jobs if another
employer is willing to pay us more.)
- Is the advice to work as if we were working for God, and
the advice to be content with our wages, advice that only
applies to another age? Is it relevant today? (Because I
fly quite a bit, when I think of strikes I think of
Eastern Airlines. It was one of the biggest airlines at
one time. The striking employees put Eastern out of
business. Then these employees had no job. What a great
idea! Unhappy with the amount of your pay? Put your
employer out of business so you have no pay!)
- Jesus' advice to the soldiers to collect only that amount
to which they are legally entitled has other applications.
If you were an employee manager, and you were misleading
your stockholders about the financial health of your
company, would you be covered by Jesus' advice? (Yes.
While Jesus was referring to taking money by force and
false accusations, it would logically apply to defrauding
people by false representations.)
- Would Jesus' advice apply to stealing supplies from
your employer? Stealing phone time?
- If you represent the government, and you take bribes,
would Jesus advice apply to you?
- The Nature of Work
- If you won the lottery, or inherited millions, would you
- Read Genesis 2:15. This describes a time period before the
entry of sin into the world. What need did Adam have for
money or possessions?
- Why do you think that in a perfect world, God gave
Adam a job?
- Read Genesis 3:17-19. How did Adam's work change after the
entry of sin?
- Does this mean that there is an aspect of work that
is a punishment for our sins?
- How long was Adam told he would have to work?
- Read Exodus 20:8-10. We always cite this text for the
positive command to keep the Sabbath holy by not working.
What other command do we find here? (To work the other six
- Does this mean we are required to work six days, or
does it mean that we have six days in which to get
our work done. If we get it done in, say, four days,
would that be fine?
- When we studied "Lord of Our Resources," we considered
this next story. Read Luke 12:16-21. Jesus' condemnation
is found in Luke 12:21 - the man was not rich towards God.
If you store up resources for retirement, are you not
being "rich" towards God?
- Is there a point in life where we can properly say
what this farmer said in Luke 12:19?
- Read Psalms 92:12-15. What does the Psalmist suggest for
old age? (Still bear fruit.)
- Unless a reader can correct me, in the entire Bible only
Solomon refers to an old person "enjoying his prosperity."
( Ecclesiastes 6:3&6) I find no example of a follower of
God simply sitting down and doing nothing. It seems that
the farmer and his barns story shows us that being idle,
when we are still physically able to be a blessing to
others, is selfishness. All of the heroes of the Bible
died while still pursuing God's mission for them.
- Labor's Lord
- Read Matthew 6:28-34. Let's focus on verses 32 and 33.
When Jesus says the "pagans run after all these things,"
is He speaking of hard work? (He must be.)
- If we are supposed to be diligent workers, working as
if God were our employer, aren't we required to work
hard? If so, why is pagan hard work being dismissed?
( Matthew 7:33 gives us the balance God seeks. In all
of our work, we are to seek first God's will. It
seems the pagans are seeking money. God promises us
that if we seek Him first, He will give us what we
need. We will not need to worry.)
- Friend, God gives us a formula for our daily work. Seek
first to do God's will. Work as if God were our employer.
Be honest and content with our wages. If we do these
things, God calls on us to leave our workplace worries
behind and simply trust Him for our needs. Will you
accept God's work formula for your life?
- Next week: Lord of Our Worship.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.