Labor Day marks the end of summer in the minds of most Americans, but Labor Day also celebrates those who work hard to make a living and who contribute toward the success of our nation. As Christians, Labor Day can also inspire and challenge us to work as a conscientious employee who is loyal to Jesus. Just as we are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps in all of our other relationships, so we must obey our Lord in the workplace as well. In 1 Peter 2:18-20, Peter gave instructions to slaves about their relationship with their masters. The Bible is not endorsing slavery here. It is not saying that slavery is okay or that it is desirable. It simply recognizes the reality of the social structure in the first century. And Peter is saying to those slaves who have become Christians, “Hey, if you want to be a slave who follows in Jesus’ footsteps, continue to do right and work hard. By doing that, you will bring honor to Christ who was a servant himself to us all.”
Christian conviction had a huge impact in ultimately abolishing slavery around the world and in the United States. And even though you might sometimes feel like a slave to your boss, or you might sometimes feel like your work is a big ball and chain keeping you down in life, Peter’s message to slaves in his day and age applies to us as employees in 2016. First Peter 2:18 says, “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” When you show respect to your boss, and when you work hard for the success of your company, you also make Jesus look good.
It can be very difficult if you find yourself working every day for an employer who is crooked, mean-spirited, or dishonest. Christian employees are not bound to obey the boss if doing so requires them to sin or to be abused. But the general attitude of a Christian worker must begin with respectful cooperation. Why? For the Lord’s sake. We want to make God look good. Think for just a second about how you feel about the person who sluffs off at work, or about the person who cusses and loses their temper a lot. It’s bad enough if they’re an unbeliever, but if that person claims loyalty to Christ, it doesn’t make God look very good, does it?
If you claim to be a Christian, ultimately you are responsible to God for what you do or don’t do. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “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.” That’s the principle Peter is embracing: work and live as a conscientious employee who represents Jesus wherever you are, whatever you do.
Working together to win together,