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How the Gospel Transforms the Workplace - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2023 6:00 am

How the Gospel Transforms the Workplace - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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April 24, 2023 6:00 am

The transformed life of a Christian isn't limited to our church and family—it touches every area of life. And as Skip shares in the message "How the Gospel Transforms the Workplace," we're called to live for Christ at our jobs too.


The transformed life gets out into the culture and begins to transform the environment. We become, as Jesus put it, salt and light. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world, Jesus said.

He said, a city set upon a hill cannot be hid. The transformed life of a Christian doesn't limit itself to our church, family, and neighborhood relationships. It touches every aspect of life. And as Skip shares today on Connect with Skip Heitig, we're called to live out our new identity in Christ in the workplace as well. But first, check out this resource that will help you relate to Jesus in a fresh way as you walk with those who met him on the road to Emmaus. For those who knew Jesus while he walked this earth, the road to discovering and believing that Jesus was resurrected started in disheartening confusion, but it ended in decisive confirmation. And we're excited to send you a special set of resurrection resources by Skip that include five of his finest Easter messages for digital download or CD and a full video titled On the Road by Skip. Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus himself drew near and went with them. With your gift of support of $50 or more, we'll send you a copy of this hope-filled package of five audio messages for download or on CD and the full video On the Road as thanks for your gift to expand Connect with Skip Heitig to reach more people in major US cities. So request your resource when you give and take a walk with Christ on the road to Emmaus.

Just call 800-922-1888 or visit slash offer. Okay, let's open up to Colossians 3 for today's teaching. Next to your home and the hours that you spend in your home. You spend most of your time probably, if you're in that age group of working, you probably spend it at a workplace, a place of employment.

Most people do. They will spend half of their waking hours at a job site of some kind. A third of the day spent in work. If you live to be 70, and I sincerely hope you live to be more than that, but if you live to be 70 years of age, you will by the age of 70 have spent 20 solid years in work. 20 years.

Not only is that a chunk of time, but society largely defines people by what they do. Usually when we meet somebody and we get past, what is your name? Probably the second or third question in the lineup is, what do you do? And somebody will then give you their occupation. I'm a nurse, I'm a doctor, I'm an accountant, I own a business, whatever it might be. And typically in people's phones or in people's records, and you look at phone numbers, you have phone numbers, you have home phone and work phone.

Now it's like cell phone for both of them, but typically it's divided by home and then by work. There is a dignity to work because we discover by reading our Bibles that work was actually God's idea from the beginning. God, the Creator, who Himself, the Bible says, worked for six days and then rested on the seventh, one of the first things He did is give to man a job. In Genesis it says that He took the man and put him in the garden to tend it, to work it.

Now I did a whole series on that sometime back, of the theology and ethics of working and resting, so that is not the point of this. The point of the text we're about to read here is, what does a transformed life look like? What does a changed life, a transformed life, look like? Paul has been speaking in very practical terms about the new you, the new man, he calls it. The old man versus the new man. The old man put off the old man, put on the new man, put on tender mercies, put on humility, put on long suffering, put on love. And then he goes into the home and now the workplace. So we talk a lot about life change.

Well, what does that really look like? Well, according to Paul, if you're a woman and you're a wife in a relationship, you become a new wife. If you're a husband in a relationship with a wife, you become a new husband. If you're a child in a home, you become a new child. If you're a parent in a home, you become a new kind of parent. And I've had so many people say, my husband is so different now that he has become a Christian. And I've had husbands say, my wife is now so different now that she has become a Christian. But Paul doesn't stop there. He says, now let me tell you what a servant looks like in the workplace and what a master looks like in that work environment.

Here is a transformed life. And this is an important concept, just to get our minds around, because we here in the West, especially evangelicals, really love this term. We've used it a lot.

I use it a lot. The term is a personal relationship with God or a personal relationship with Christ. I'm all for that. But we have taken that to almost mean an individualized, without accountability relationship with God. In other words, it's all about me. It's all about my personal peace and my love and my joy. And I'm now satisfied.

I'm now satisfied. In reality, what Paul points out by this is the new you impacts society. The transformed life gets out into the culture and begins to transform the environment. We become, as Jesus put it, salt and light. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world, Jesus said. He said, a city set upon a hill cannot be hid. And one of the best hills to set your light on to make a difference is in the workplace.

Now, I just want to press this point a little further before we get into these. And there's just a few verses. But did you know that most social reforms within Western culture are a direct result of transformed people through the gospel? Once people got saved and serious about their salvation, they went to transform their environment, the workplace. I have several examples.

I just want to brush through them. When Christianity began to spread west, that is, it started in the Middle East, Jerusalem, started moving across Asia Minor. By the fourth century, the first institution called a hospital came into being, a direct result of Christians who took seriously Jesus' mandate to care for the sick.

That happened in the fourth century in Cappadocia. Moving on a little bit further into more modern times, by the 1700s, the 18th century, there was a fiery preacher in England by the name of John Wesley. Ever hear of him? He was a great preacher. But did you know that not only did he preach the gospel, but he preached against slavery? He preached for prison reform. He preached the education of people. And a great awakening happened, not only in England, but it spilled over into America. And when it came to America in the 1730s and 40s, the result was the building of great institutions of learning. Let's educate people.

Let's bring learning to people. Back in England, a politician who was saved, a Christian politician by the name of William Wilberforce, led a movement. The movement was, let's abolish the slave trade. And in 1834, it was abolished in England. That spilled over then into America. And Christian leaders, especially among the Quakers, preached.

One preacher said, slavery is the greatest sin against God. And a Quaker woman started a group called the American Anti-Slavery Society that culminated in President Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Back over in Germany, in Europe, there was a Lutheran minister by the name of Theodore Fleidner. And this minister built homes for ex-prisoners, sort of like halfway houses, to get them back on their feet. Hospitals for the sick, asylums for the mentally ill, orphanages for kids. And one of his most famous students was a woman by the name of Florence Nightingale, who was called the mother of modern nursing. In the 19th century, now the 1800s, a man by the name of Lord Shaftesbury, he was actually the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, that's a title, his name was Anthony Ashley Cooper, got involved in the British Parliament to pass laws regulating child labor.

Also in 1800s London, because the working conditions were so poor, because of the Industrial Revolution, people were working in cramped spaces and breathing in fumes and people's lives were just miserable. So out of that, somebody had an idea, let's start an organization, and we'll call it the YMCA, the Young Men's Christians Association, and also the YWCA, Young Woman's Christian Association, to help alleviate the burden and stress. During that time, a missionary by the name of William Carey left from Britain to India, and while he was in India, not only did he preach, not only did he teach the Bible, but he lobbied to abolish widow burning, that was a thing then, widow burning and child sacrifice. Also during that time, David Livingstone and many other missionaries followed him to Africa to discourage not only polygamy, but to fight slavery, as well as preach the gospel. And by the way, to bring it up to very modern times, probably the only ones really standing against the unthinkable slaughter of 20 million babies in this country because of abortion are Christians. I know it's a controversial subject nowadays, but that's only because what the Bible says would happen has happened, that the love of many will grow cold and people's consciences will be seared as with a hot iron. It's only the Christian church that is saying, that's wrong, that's murderous.

So that is the result of being salt and light. Now what I'd like to do in these verses, and I know we haven't even read these verses yet, but we're going to look at five verses. We're going to begin in chapter three, verse 22, and take it all the way down to chapter four, verse one. And we're going to look at three basic aspects of the Christian faith in the workplace. This is the attitude of employees and employers. But I want to begin with the problem of enslavement.

The problem of enslavement, and I'll show you why as we go through it. But let's now read our text, shall we? Verse 22, bondservants obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ.

But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a master in heaven. Now, after reading that, I just want to talk about the elephant in the room, the awkward topic of slavery in the Bible.

And I bring it up because everybody I talk to who's not a Christian brings it up. And you don't have to really look far, but in verse 22, it uses the term bondservant, the Greek word douloi, better translation, slaves. He's writing to slaves.

And then in verse 1 of chapter 4, masters, it's the word kurioi, lords, that is a slave owner or a slave master. So it brings up the question, why is Paul regulating slavery? Why doesn't Paul seek to abolish slavery? Now, let me begin this question by first saying, slavery is wrong.

There's no justification for it at all. Slavery is wrong, and the Bible sees it as such. It's against the very concept of redemption. The idea of redemption is to set a slave free by paying a price. Every year, the Jews celebrate Passover, half for generations.

Passover celebrates being set free. They were once slaves to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and God set them free. However, people will say, yeah, but in the Old Testament, under Judaism, there was a form of slavery. So you guys keep bringing up the Bible this and the Bible that, and slavery's in the Bible. People who say that really don't understand what the Bible says about it.

So let me enlighten you. There was a certain kind of slavery among Jews in the Old Testament, but it was never forced. It was voluntary. If you had to pay off a debt, you would become a servant.

You basically would enter into a contractual agreement to work for somebody to pay off their debt. But the Bible also highly regulated that relationship. So Exodus chapter 21 says if you mistreat a slave, and let's say he loses his eye or he loses a tooth, you have to let him go free. Deuteronomy 23 says you shall not oppress somebody that's in that contractual agreement. So if a slave leaves because he feels he's being abused and runs away and comes to your house, you have to let him in.

And you can't turn him back over to his previous owner because of that mistreatment. Also in Exodus chapter 21, every seven years, all the slaves went free and all the debts were canceled. And at that point, the servant, slave, the indentured servant, could have an option to make it a permanent relationship. He would go to his master and say, you know, I really love you. I love working with you.

I love working for you. And I want to be permanently under your care and serve you forever. And they would take his ear to the door of that tabernacle and they would punch a hole in it with an awl.

And he would be permanently a servant. But that's the Old Testament. We're dealing with the New Testament and the slavery we're dealing with is the slavery going on among the Romans and the Greeks. And it was cruel. And it was abusive.

There was nothing really kind about it. Did you know that the idea of slavery came from Roman ideology? The Romans just sort of thought that it's beneath the dignity of a Roman citizen to work. It's beneath the dignity of a Roman citizen to get his hands dirty. That's manual labor is for slaves. Our life is about watching games and partying.

Sort of like college. Aristotle, the philosopher, the Greek philosopher, said, a slave is nothing more than a living tool and a tool is an inanimate slave. The Roman noble statesman Varro, Marcus Varro, said the only thing distinguishing a slave from a beast or a cart is that a slave can't talk. And one Roman writer recommended that the only way to buy a farm is to toss out the old slaves to die because they're just broken tools. And most did exactly that. In Roman law, if a slave ran away from a slave owner and they caught him, they would brand a huge F for a fugitibus on his forehead.

And he would have to bear that for life. And often that meant death without trial. So that's the world of the New Testament. That's Roman imperialism and the slave system that was around it. So if that's true, then why didn't the apostles, including Paul the apostle, campaign against it? Why not sign petitions around the Roman Empire? Why not tell slaves to get up in arms and picket and overrun the Roman government?

Let me give you three quick reasons. Number one, because slavery was so much a part of the social fabric of the Roman Empire, it had predated Christianity by hundreds of years, by centuries. And in the Roman Empire, there was as many as one out of every three people that were slaves. Some scholars say up to 40%, 40% of all the people in the Roman Empire were slaves. In some cities, there were many times more slaves than there were free people. Now who were slaves? Doctors were slaves.

Musicians, teachers, artists, librarians, and accountants. J. B. Caird said ancient society was as economically dependent on slavery as modern society is on machinery.

That's just number one. It was just what was part of the culture, and no one is going to change that quickly. Number two, second reason, Christians in that culture were a tiny little minority. They had no political power whatsoever. They didn't vote for politicians like we do.

That's an enormous power. They didn't have that power. I'm sure if they had that power, they would vote for people that supported biblical values, but they had no power.

For them to rebel would be seen as subversive. If Paul would have told all the slaves, rebel, that would have created a slave uprising, and the Roman government would violently have oppressed that and very, very quickly. Then what would happen is the message of the gospel would have been confused for just some social program.

Just a social gospel. And then number three, and I think here is the most compelling reason why Paul didn't do anything is that the system is never the issue. The heart is always the issue. You want to change things? Change people's hearts.

Don't just change the external things. You know, you can have the right system with the wrong people. You can have the wrong system with the right people. You can abolish slavery in favor of democracy, but if you have corrupt people running it, you're just going to have a different kind of oppression.

If you have a free enterprise system like we have in America, and you've got workers' rights and HR departments and government regulations and time off for every conceivable reason, but you have godless people running it and a godless boss giving you orders, it's just another kind of slavery. And Paul knew that. Paul knew that the problem is not political, the problem is not social, the problem is not civil, the problem is spiritual. So instead of trying to like overcome the politics of the day with the Roman Empire, he thought, I'm going to undermine the ideology of slavery by changing the hearts of the slave and the master.

I'm going to get at their hearts. Galatians 3, 28, there is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither slave nor free. There is neither male nor female. You are all one in Christ.

What's he talking about? The church. In the church, there's no distinctions. There may be in the workplace, but not in the church. So the New Testament taught principles, listen carefully, that eventually would undermine slavery and abolish it.

And by the second century, there were already so many people coming to Christ that slavery as an institution in the Roman Empire was already beginning to crumble. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from his series, Always Only Jesus. Find the full message as well as books, booklets, and full teaching series at Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep these messages coming your way to connect you and many others around the world with God's word. We are called in scripture to submit to earthly authorities that God has allowed to be in power.

But our ultimate authority is God, and he has revealed himself through his word so we can follow him. This ministry exists to connect people around the world to God's word so they can follow him all their life. We invite you to join us in that important work today.

Through your support, you can help others discover the ultimate, always good ruler in their life and to keep these teachings that you love available to you wherever you listen. And with your generous gift, you'll help make these messages available on more stations in more major cities in the USA. So I'm praying you'll jump in with a gift today. Here's how you can give a gift now. Visit slash donate to give a gift. That's slash donate or call 800-922-1888.

800-922-1888. Thank you for your generosity. Join us again tomorrow as Skip tears down the false dichotomy of sacred and secular life. Now whenever you do this, whenever you decide I'm going to do my job as I'm doing it like I would be, I'm employed by God as unto the Lord, you are going to turn, it's transformational by the way, guaranteed. It takes menial tasks and makes them noble tasks. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 04:56:03 / 2023-04-24 05:04:44 / 9

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