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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!

  1. The Christian Employee


    1. 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.)


      1. 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?


        1. Do you work differently when your boss is on vacation?


      2. 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.)


    2. 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.)


      1. Why is that? (Paul tells us that God will pay us. He will reward us with an inheritance.)


        1. Why would God link our secular work to our religious obligations? (God must believe that the quality of our work reflects upon Him.)


    3. Read Colossians 3:25. Will God punish us if we wrong our employer?


    4. 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.)


  2. Labor Unions


    1. Read Luke 3:14. How would this advice from Jesus relate to an employee's decision on whether or not to join a labor union?


      1. 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.)


      2. 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.)


    2. 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!)


    3. 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.)


      1. Would Jesus' advice apply to stealing supplies from your employer? Stealing phone time?


      2. If you represent the government, and you take bribes, would Jesus advice apply to you?


  3. The Nature of Work


    1. If you won the lottery, or inherited millions, would you stop working?


    2. 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?


      1. Why do you think that in a perfect world, God gave Adam a job?


    3. Read Genesis 3:17-19. How did Adam's work change after the entry of sin?


      1. Does this mean that there is an aspect of work that is a punishment for our sins?


      2. How long was Adam told he would have to work?


    1. 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 days.)


      1. 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?


    2. 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?


      1. Is there a point in life where we can properly say what this farmer said in Luke 12:19?


    3. Read Psalms 92:12-15. What does the Psalmist suggest for old age? (Still bear fruit.)


    4. 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.


  1. Labor's Lord


    1. 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.)


      1. 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.)


    2. 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?


  2. 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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