We’ve talked previously about the relief from the curse that God provided in motherhood and marriage to those who love and obey Him. This idea of redemption from the effects of the curse also appears in the curse placed on man. For the Christian, work — as difficult and taxing as it is after The Fall — becomes an opportunity to worship the Lord and be a witness for Christ.
Urge slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be pleasing, not contradicting, not pilfering, but demonstrating all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in everything. (Titus 2:9-10)
“Slaves” here describes anybody who works for somebody else. The word “slave” is a translation of doulos. It simply means somebody who’s in submission. And in this passage, we see a brand new perspective on work.
All of a sudden, work becomes an environment in which I can demonstrate my salvation. Work becomes the realm of witness. I can work in such a way that people around me see that God has saved me and delivered me from sin.
What Scripture says is that if you’re an employee (and most of us are), this is the place where you can adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, where you can put on display the fact that you’re a Christian.
Now look at Colossians 3:22-24:
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but with integrity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. Serve the Lord Christ.
It’s not eye service that the Lord is after. Here’s a new dimension of work: Work is the sphere of our witness, and work is the sphere of our worship.
You say, “What do you mean, the sphere of worship?” I mean that when I do my work to the very best of my ability, I can offer that effort to God as an act of worship. That’s what it says. Whether you drive trucks, or teach children, or dig ditches, or sell insurance, you can worship through your work. And in the process, Paul says, we work to receive an eternal reward.
That changes the whole thing. And so through salvation, the curse is mitigated. The mundane, routine, life-long struggle of work becomes the realm of witness, the realm of worship, and the realm of reward. And, remarkably, it is the Lord Christ whom we serve in our work.
You might say, “I thought that was true of preachers.” It is, but it’s not only preachers. That’s true of bus drivers, school teachers, lawyers, doctors, and everybody. Whatever it is you do, you serve the Lord.
Consider this parallel text in Ephesians 6:5-8:
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the integrity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, serving with good will as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
You couldn’t put it more clearly than that. You’re serving Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. And what is the will of God? The will of God is that you be the best employee that you can possibly be, you work hard, and you give a full day’s work for a full day’s wage.
You know, sometimes you think you’re not paid right. Isn’t that true? You think you don’t make enough, or that they don’t appreciate you. They don’t understand how valuable you are. Just remember this: You’re not serving men, you’re serving the Lord. And the Lord knows whatever good thing each one does, and you will receive back from the Lord.
First Timothy 6:1-2 needs to be added to this, just to fill it out:
All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be slandered. But those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brothers, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.
Again, the whole idea here is to work in such a way that brings honor to God and makes it obvious that He saved you, because you’re full of peace, joy, hope, faith, loyalty, and submission. When you live that out in the workplace, you demonstrate God as a Savior.
If you have a non-Christian boss, serve him for the sake of testimony. If you have a Christian boss, serve him because it is right and because you want to benefit him, and you’re willing to make all the necessary sacrifices to one who is your beloved brother.
So what do we see in all those passages? We see work taking on a completely different perspective from the curse in Genesis 3. And we say again that when you have God pronouncing curses, the curses are mitigated in Christ. When you work in Christ, you find in your work not that sad cycle of meaninglessness but the joy of doing something eternally purposeful.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 2000, titled “The Curse on the Man, Part 2.”
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