23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross,so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:18-25)
"How's work treating ya?"
I wonder what the percentage of people in America respond with the answer: “Fantastic!. 15, 10% Maybe less….and even then not all the time.
Because that's not how we normally feel about work, is it? We call it the "daily grind," "the squirrel cage," or the "treadmill." None of which are all that flattering. We complain about our bosses. We complain about long hours. We complain about bad benefits and low pay. We TGIF (Thank God it's Friday) and CTGIM (Complaining To God It's Monday).
Today we're going to talk about work. Whether you work for others, work for yourself, or are retired and work at home for fun, it's my prayer that this morning as we discuss People of God: At Work that you are reinvigorated to do your work and do it with joy!
I. How God Wants us to Work
Take a look at what 1 Peter 2 says about work. In verse 18, it says, "Servants, submit to your masters with all respect.”
When should you be a good employee? The first answer is pretty logical. We can get to it without even looking at Scripture, we can come to our first answer: When your boss is good!
Fortune 500 Magazine ranked "Google" as the top company to work for in 2014. Some of the perks: massages to help your mind energize, sleep pods to help your mind rest, 20% of your time each week devoted to pursuing your own dreams and ideas! Encouraging entrepeneurialship! It would be easy to work hard for Google. Easy to work hard for any good boss.
But what if your boss isn't so good? What if your boss is bad? What then? Surely God doesn’t expect us to work hard for those guys?
Read verse 18 again, "Servants, submit to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unjust."
In other words, God wants you to work just as hard for the unjust as for the good boss.
Now there are a lot of different types of bad boss. There’s the Michael Scott type – who gets distracted easily and is really quite lazy. There’s the Ebenezer Scrooge type – who is fairly rude and makes you work at ½ rate for Christmas. There’s the Mr. Burns type – who is filled with greed and only wants more money at the expense of his employees.
If you have a boss who exhibits any of these TV character-like qualities, God wants you to submit to them. It doesn’t say “Substitute their real name with a demeaning nickname.” Nor does it say “Sub-standardize your skills so you don’t have to work as hard,” nor “submerse your pockets with a few free pens in order to earn your pay back” nor “submit to an afternoon of playing games on the computer, because he’s not looking!”
God’s Word simply says, “Submit. Work hard. Respect. Whether your boss is good or bad.”
Here’s the truth—anyone can happily serve a good boss. Even unbelievers! But it is extremely hard to serve an unjust and unfair boss! And that is precisely why God calls you, Christians, people of God, to do just that.
Read verse 19-20: "For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” The point is clear.
Think about it. A good recommendation is that you should submit to your boss when you endure suffering that you deserve. It’s the right thing to do. And if your boss decides that there will be consequences for your poor work habits, that’s fine. No one’s impressed if you have your pay docked for laziness, lose hours because you aren’t showing up on time, or you are demoted for bad mouthing the boss. If you suffer for doing wrong, then you deserve it. Go back to submitting to your boss and get back in his good graces.
But what if you don’t deserve it? Then should you submit? What if you are blamed for a project that failed because a coworker didn’t complete his work on time? What if your boss is upset with home life and takes it out on you? What if you don’t get a promotion because the boss thinks the person who just got the promotion is better looking OR more popular than you?
God’s Word is still clear: SUBMIT. Work hard. Resepct.
This is a gracious thing! A commendable thing to God because it is motivated in love…undeserved love, yes…but love none the same. Especially when this service is, look at verse 19, “mindful of God.” When you continue to submit to a boss out of love for the LORD (not necessarily out of love for your boss, but love for the Lord) this is commendable before God!
So…how commendable have you been lately? Do you think God would be impressed with your work ethic? Is he happy with your attitude toward your boss? If you are retired or unemployed, is he happy with the effort you are putting forth in using your God given talents to serve your family? If you are in school, would God be impressed with the effort you put forth on your grades and the respect you show your teachers?
If you are human – and like me – I know the answer. “No.”
Yep. Even pastors are NOT PERFECT. We sin too. I sin too. I get overwhelmed by requests, I get tired, and I immediately play the blame game. I get lazy. I am tempted to ignore things that need to get done.
That’s not commendable at all.
If you have done this too, then you have something to confess, as well. If you want to confess sinful, lazy, vengeful, greedy, spiteful and selfish attitudes and actions at work, then join me. Join me right now in turning to the One, the only One, whose work was completely commendable to God – Jesus Christ.
II. Christ = A Great Example of a Great Worker
Now besides a boss, someone that can just as easily ruin a work experience is a client. Whether that client is an angry customer at McDonalds or an overbearing, complaining guy on the jobsite – bad clients make life hard for those who work for them.
Christ’s boss was God. He’s an awesome boss. But look who the clients were that he was called to work for: In verse 21, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
Did you see it? Christ worked for us! You were his client.
And here’s the deal, those 4 bad qualities of a bad boss that we mentioned earlier, we have every one of them. Think about your relationship with God, aren’t we:
· Unthankful – I’m glad I am where I am in life. I have no one else to thank for it. No really. I’m the only one responsible.
· Lazy – God won’t you take care of this! I know I just have to do what your word says, but I’m too lazy to deal with it.
· Rude – God. Leave me alone. I don’t need you. I don’t need your word. Back off!
· Vengeful – God I can’t believe this happened. I’m upset with you. I’m angry with you. I’m blaming you!
We are probably some of the worst clients that anyone could ever have. We would probably quit working for us!
But not Jesus. He didn’t let the fact that we are ungrateful, selfish, vengeful, rude clients stop Him from doing his job.
In fact, nothing stopped him. Even when his work become most difficult: 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. In other words, he went about his work, perfectly, loving, without any sinful action or any sinful attitude! Amazing.
He did so even when the attacks were directly at him. Read the next verse, when he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he was made fun of by the very people he came to serve – “Blasphemer! Fraud! Rebel! Phony!” Jesus could have legitimately called back: “Sinner! Adulterer! Jerk!” But he didn’t. He remained silently going about his work.
It continues, “When he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” When he was slapped, beaten with rods, crowned with thorns, whipped, and even crucified – he didn’t call down fire or threaten to open the earth and swallow his captor, he simply entrusted himself to His God and his God’s task for him.
Jesus did this until he completed his task.
Now I’ve had jobs before that are really difficult. Like a couple of months ago I was working on a puzzle. It was hard. I couldn’t tell if the pieces I was holding were for grass, a bush, or a bunch of pine trees. So…I QUIT.
Jesus didn’t do that. Scripture says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
Healed. That’s past tense. It means his job was completely and perfectly completed. It isn’t even if he got it mostly finish and then said, “You guys finish it up.” NOPE! Jesus completely finished his work .
But that’s not all. Because his work directly affect you. You aren’t partially healed. You aren’t partially forgiven. Through faith in Jesus, you are fully and completely healed and forgiven.
It’s as if Jesus had one of those check lists that janitors have in the bathroom making sure they do everything they are supposed to. It would look something like this:
Sins of laziness forgiven? CHECK. Sins of hatefulness? CHECK. Sins of gossip? CHECK. Any and every sinful attitude completely paid for? CHECK. Peace established between God and humans? CHECK. Heaven paid for? CHECK. And DOUBLE CHECK!
Jesus is a great example of a great worker! He is an example for us and also our motivation. Therefore, Verse 24-25 tell us how to do that immediately: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
3 Things God wants you to do to serve him:
1) Die to sin. Get rid of hatred for your work. Get rid of selfishness and laziness in any and all work that you do.
2) Live righteously. Keep God in your mind while you work – at your job, at home, at school, searching for a job! Keep God in mind and view each day as a chance to bring Him glory with your attitude and actions.
3) Know your Shepherd. Know that he watches over you.
A shepherd has hard work. He has to watch and take care of sheep. Sheep that are stubborn. Sheep that don’t listen. Sheep that don’t know what’s best for them.
Yet with the Shepherd at work, the sheep are confident. They don’t worry. They don’t fret. They just go about their work – which for sheep – is eating and growing wool.
It’s the same with you. Your Great Shepherd is at work. He is watching over you. So be at peace. Be confident. In spite of what you might encounter in your work, be confident that the Lord is at work for you! It’ll change your whole attitude.