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God's Perspective on Work

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
April 15, 2024 4:00 am

God's Perspective on Work

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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All earthly distinctions are leveled in the presence of the Lord.

All He's interested in is how you treat each other. Do you as an employer seek their best? Do you recognize that by serving them you're serving Christ as if they were Christ? And you may think that's a secular environment.

It's not. It's your spiritual service. Live in such a way that you adorn the teaching about God as a saving being. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach, once said, some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged by only one thing, the result. You know, it's true, the end result is important in the work you do, but it's certainly not what God cares about most where your work is concerned. On this April 15th broadcast, Tax Day in the United States, John MacArthur shows you how your job gives you an opportunity to serve and honor the Lord. Here's John now to examine God's perspective on work. I want you to open your Bible, if you will, to a portion of Scripture that we'll use as the setting for the message, Ephesians chapter 6, Ephesians chapter 6, verses 5 through 9. Let me begin reading in verse 5. Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ, not by way of eye service as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service 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.

And masters, do the same thing to them and give up threatening, knowing that both their master and yours is in heaven and there is no partiality with Him. We are obviously very much aware of the issues that face us in our society with regard to hard work, which has always been a part of sort of the American ethic. We are a culture that is having difficulty with work at this particular time. We are into leisure mostly.

We are into being entertained. We are being told as young people growing up today that somebody owes us a living, that we should make demands for what we want and what we expect. We are producing a generation of young people who never see their parents' work because even if they have two working parents, it's outside the home. They leave in the morning.

They come back at night. All they know is work makes you irritable. And work causes you not to get along too well and makes you bad parents and usually leads, very often leads at least in half the cases to divorce and the breakup of homes.

So work is not a very popular theme. And while the parents are busy working, in many cases to make money, the young people are being raised by a generation telling them that the most important thing to occupy your time with is leisure and entertainment. And into that kind of lazy culture comes drugs and alcohol and sex and homosexuality and every other kind of thing. Behind it all is just this age-old sin of greed, everyone wanting more for himself. And I think a failure to understand the value and the honor of work. In fact, we could safely say that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and economic trouble is one of those kinds of evil.

The sin of selfishness just escalates the problems. Greed is a controlling element. Materialism is a controlling element, as we know in our society.

Money-hungry people drive this economy in great measure. It's not the love of work for work's sake. It's not the nobility of work as it once was. It's not the self-satisfaction of making something and seeing it made and taking pride in your product.

Taking pride in your product, certainly as we continue to be a more service-oriented and less manufacturing-oriented and less manual labor-oriented society, we're going to have a harder time seeing the actual product made with our hands and enjoying the satisfaction of work. But I do want you to come with me to this very important portion of Scripture in Ephesians chapter 6 and just to sort of reaffirm God's perspective on work. And it's not driven by greed, and it's not driven by selfishness, and it's not driven by self-fulfillment, and it's not driven by a hunger for power. It's driven by an understanding of what God has ordained.

And the overarching principle that must work in a healthy economic environment, believe it or not, is a principle of submission. And for Christians, it is to be the outflow of the working of the Holy Spirit. And when we're filled with the Spirit, we carry into the workplace an attitude of joy, an attitude of gratitude, and an attitude of submission. Let's look first of all then at the submission of the servants, the submission of the employees, verses 5 to 8. Slaves or employees, be obedient to those who are your masters, according to the flesh, with fear and trembling in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ, not by way of eye service as men pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will, render service as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this you will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. Here's the pattern for all employees, folks, it's right here, from Christian slaves in Paul's time to Christian employees today.

And this stands for every employee. And the first thing, and I want you to just follow a little outline, the first thing is they're called to right behavior, right behavior, be obedient, be obedient. Same word, by the way, exact same word as in verse 1 where it says, children are to obey their parents, same word.

If you're employed by someone, you're to obey them. Spirit-filled Christians will. And that's a good thermometer on your spiritual temperature.

It's a present tense verb, keep on obeying. Our testimony for Christ must be seen in our obedience, our faithfulness, in our daily task. Otherwise our faith flunks and the name of Jesus is discredited. If you are lazy or unfaithful or disobedient or malcontent or greedy or jealous, etc., you bring reproach on Jesus Christ. And if your employer is a Christian, don't abuse that privilege, but rather render service even greater if possible, more diligent and more faithful to that Christian employer, even though you're one in Christ. Don't take advantage of your Christian boss.

Whether you have a good or a bad boss, nothing really changes. So the first thing is right behavior. Secondly, right perspective. Right perspective is bound up in the phrase, according to the flesh. This is nothing more than a human temporal relationship. Understand that.

The right behavior is submission. The right perspective is it's simply a fleshly relationship. He has authority over you only in that area, not in the spiritual realm.

In the spiritual realm, you're one in Christ. When it comes to spiritual issues, if there's a sin in your boss's life, you can confront that sin spiritually. If there's an opportunity to disciple your boss because he's not as spiritually mature as you are, you need to take that opportunity and engage yourself in that. You need to pray for his spiritual strength. You need to provide resources and material to him. You need to encourage him in his spiritual life. It may well be that an employee is an elder or a leader, a teacher in the church who has oversight over his own boss in the assembly of the redeemed on the spiritual level.

But that does not affect the labor arena. According to the flesh, the right perspective, you're to be obedient. Thirdly, the right attitude.

You have to bring to this the right attitude. And what is it? It's a very interesting statement, verse 5, fear and trembling. Now you say, what am I supposed to be, living in terror of my boss?

No. It's really not fear and trembling of him, it's fear and trembling of whom? God.

Sort of behind him. You should show respect to your boss. You should show an amount of regard for your boss and all those who are over you. But behind that is God who has ordained these relationships. We're not calling here for cowering, servility, and abject terror, but a healthy respect and a healthy reverence for the fact that God has ordained this kind of structure and this kind of order in human life. And you should have a healthy fear of offending the employer who has been given the place of leadership in your life in the workplace and been given that place by God. It's a fear and trembling for anyone whom the Lord has assigned. That's why in Romans 13 it says the police or soldiers are instruments of God, ministers of God who bear not the sword in vain, submit to them as to God.

Reverence for the Lord and for the law of authority and submission which is built into the fabric of human life. That employer of yours has been allowed to be there by God. It is a service to God that you render by being submissive to your employer. And then he adds, fourthly, the right commitment, the right behavior, the right perspective, the right attitude, the right commitment in the sincerity of your heart...in the sincerity of your heart. That means that you're not doing this hypocritically. I'll tell you, the only way you can really be a good employee, a really great employee, is when it's from the heart.

Honest, upright, undivided, conscientious, genuine loyalty and commitment to do your very best. That's what God asks for. It is that you may adorn the doctrine of God and demonstrate that He's a saving God because of what He's done in your life. Make it your ambition, 1 Thessalonians 4-11 says, to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands just as we commanded you so that you may behave properly toward outsiders.

So important. You give 60 minutes of work for every 60 minutes of pay. You do it with the right commitment. Singleness of heart simply means that you're not doing 60 minutes of pay. You do it with the right commitment. Singleness of heart simply means an undivided attention.

It means singularity of focus, the absence of hypocrisy, no division in your loyalty. And then with the right motive, and the right motive is very clear in verse 5, as to Christ. You know, that shows me that there's no distinction between your Christian life and your work life.

There isn't any such thing. There's nothing in your life that's secular. You don't have a spiritual life and a secular life, you just have your life. And everything you do, whether you're working on an assembly line, or whether you're working as a secretary, or whether you're working in some kind of paperwork, or whether you're doing some manual task, whether you're doing construction, or whether you're teaching school, or whether you're running employees here and there and underneath the head of your company, whatever it is you're doing is all done unto Christ. It's all sacred. Your whole life is a sacred act of worship, your whole life. Whatever you do, 1 Corinthians 10, 31, do it all to the glory of God. Your job is your service to Jesus Christ, just as much an offering to His glory as your prayer, that's right, or your Bible reading, or going to church.

When you go to work tomorrow, that is an opportunity for you to express your love to Jesus Christ. You are to work and offer your service to an earthly employer as if you were serving Jesus Christ. Every Christian is in full-time Christian service to Jesus Christ, working to God's glory that others may be brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And if you have a Christian who's discontent with his job, who's a poor worker, lazy, not diligent, seeks to get out of every task, not willing to volunteer for the extra things, it is a dishonor to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some people say, well, you know, I wish God had made me a missionary, or I wish He had made me a preacher, or a teacher, or a Christian worker. Let me tell you something, you are a servant of Jesus Christ. You are in full-time ministry all the time, ministering to the glory of Christ, whatever you do, whatever you do. It's no different for you to do your job to the maximum ability for the glory of Christ than it is for me to prepare this message to preach to you to the honor of Jesus Christ. Then Paul adds in verse 6, not by way of eye service, as men pleasers, but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart.

And it's back to that singularity of heart. I guess we could call this the right diligence, if you just want to keep adding a little outline, the right behavior, perspective, the right attitude, the right commitment, the right motive, and the right diligence. You do it not by way of eye service. In other words, putting on a show while a boss is watching, or when it's time for somebody to come and evaluate you, or the month that's just before pay increases. Don't just do the minimum and get by. Don't be marginal. Don't be watching to see who's looking.

Don't just try to look good on the surface. This is incompatible with a Spirit-filled Christian life because I'll tell you something, folks, there's somebody who's always looking, always looking. Listen to Colossians 3, 23, says this, whatever you do, you 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. Much more important than whether you get a raise or not is whether the Lord rewards you. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Boy, that's so good. Colossians 3, 23, and 24. You serve Him. So you do the will of God from the heart.

And what is God's will? That you work hard, that you work with reverence and respect for the authority over you, that you work without an eye for the boss, that you do your very best from the heart, from the inner man, not superficially but genuinely. And then verse 7 adds, with good will renders service or with literally a ready mind as to the Lord and not to men. I guess we could add the right diligence here. To the right diligence we could add the right eagerness.

What he's talking about here is an aggressiveness that says I'm anxious. I'm not just reluctantly willing to do this. I'm going to grit my teeth and try to pull it off, but I just can't wait to get at this because I understand what it is. I'm up in the morning. I'm in there. I'm getting ready. I'm firing out of there.

Why? Because I have to go serve Christ today. I'm going to serve Him in my hammering nails. I'm going to serve Him in my classroom where I teach the children. I'm going to serve Him while I'm fixing cars. I'm going to serve Him while I'm making hamburgers. I'm going to serve Him while I'm pushing papers across my desk. I'm going to serve Him while I'm traveling around selling people whatever I'm selling them.

I'm not working for men. I'm serving Jesus Christ in the midst of a watching world. I am His servant. Wow, what a perspective. Every single piece of work you do, every hour of every day must be good enough to show to God and say, Lord, this is my offering to You.

What do you think? You think that's probably frightening for the preacher, and it is. People ask me how much satisfaction I get out of preaching. Answer, not much.

You understand that? Not much because I'm my own worst critic and this is a very formidable responsibility and not one that anybody wants to enter into lightly because the man who doesn't offend with his mouth is a perfect man and all such offenses are recorded by God who will judge us according to what we've said, stop being so many teachers for theirs is a greater condemnation. This is a grave responsibility and truly it is the offering that I give to the Lord that is most important to me.

I'm here to tell you what the Word of God means and I don't want to lay my hand to the Word of God and not get it right because this is the sacred book. It is a formidable thing I do and may I shake you loose a little bit by reminding you that whatever you do is equally offered to the Lord and demands the same kind of commitment. And I say, when you say, how much satisfaction do you get out of your preaching?

And I say, not much. The reason is because I'm my own worst critic and most of the time am dissatisfied with what I offer to the Lord because I always feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what could have been said or should have been said. But no Christian has a secular job.

They don't exist. The money at your job is not your motive. The joy of serving Jesus Christ is and that has its reward in the heart. You seek to please men, you'll corrupt your motives.

You seek money, you'll corrupt your motives. Do your job for God's glory, your motive is pure and God's blessing will be your reward. And verse 8 is the greatest incentive of all. This is the capstone, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. There might be some difficulties in being a slave socially, but God is going to reward you whether you're a slave or free for what you've rendered to Him. That's a great incentive. Christ is the final paymaster.

He will give the final payroll. Wow! That's why Paul said to the Corinthians, it's a small thing what men say about me. It's a small thing what they think.

It's a small thing what I think. What really matters is what does God think. A soldier in the Roman Empire could allow his wages to accumulate with the paymaster until his service ended. And a wise soldier would do that because he would say, my meals are provided, my clothing is provided. As long as I'm in the ranks, I have everything I need in life and rather than waste my pay, the paymaster could keep his pay until all of his service was rendered and he would receive it at the end.

And I think Paul looked at life that way. As a Christian, he was saying, I'm going to wait the day when the final paymaster gives me everything I've earned through all the years of soldiering. Jesus said, Behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me to give to every man according as his work shall be.

I really am not interested in squabbling right now with money. I'm not interested in working with poor motives selfishly and losing my witness. I would rather give everything to what the Lord has called me to do and then let Him pay me in the very end. And I can only hope that He would say, Well done, good and faithful servant.

There is no secular work. It's all service to Him. Finally then, we turn from the servant to the master for one final word in verse 9. And masters, because most of us not only work for somebody, but have somebody working for us. And it says, Masters, do the same things to them. Well that sums it up, doesn't it? The very same things to them.

Well what does that mean? Serve them with honor and respect. Serve them sincerely. Serve them as if you were serving Jesus Christ. Serve them without hypocrisy. Do for them what is good and beneficial, as if to the Lord and not to men. And treat your employees in such a way that will bring an eternal reward.

Wow. Serve your employees as an act of worship to God. Serve your employees as an act of service to Jesus Christ.

Don't use them to get rich. Treat your servants, your employees with respect as you would Jesus Christ who Himself was a servant. And the greatest masters are those who serve.

Isn't that what it says in Matthew chapter 20? Whoever would be chief among you, let him be your what? Your servant. Treat them with the right attitude. Verse 9, give up threatening. Don't yell at your employees. Don't intimidate them. Don't verbally abuse them. Don't threaten them. A Spirit-controlled, Spirit-filled employer is gentle, never abusive, never threatening.

Threats have no value. Use encouragement. Use reward.

Use those things that stimulate the Christian's noble intent. Why do that? Why all of this?

Again, same motivation. End of verse 9, knowing that both their master and yours, and so here we know these are Christians in this relationship, that both their master and yours is in heaven. What does that mean? He's watching and He's the final authority. You are serving for divine evaluation and God is not impressed with your accomplishments. He's not particularly impressed with your power. He's impressed with your submission to the needs of your employees and there is no partiality with Him. All earthly distinctions are leveled in the presence of the Lord.

All He's interested in is how you treat each other. Do you as an employer seek their best? Do you set aside any intimidation and threatening?

Do you recognize that by serving them you're serving Christ as if they were Christ? Everybody's going to give an account and you may be a leader in a company. You may be the employer. You may be the boss and you may think that's a secular environment.

It's not. It's your spiritual service. Live in such a way that you adorn the teaching about God as a saving God. Show the evidence of God having transformed your life in the way you treat your employees.

Pretty practical stuff, isn't it? So go to work tomorrow, whatever you do, with this in mind and heart. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. Today's lesson here on Grace to You is titled, God's Perspective on Work. John, a point you made about the motive for the Christian's work.

You said this, your job is your service to Jesus Christ, just as much an offering to His glory as your prayer. And that is the bottom line. We work to give God glory and that extends even into fields where, according to some people, Christians don't fit in. A line has been drawn between biblical Christianity and science.

But really, John, that should not be the case. Give us your thoughts on that. Of course, true science is a discovery of reality and reality is what God has created. You know, one of the things we're committed to at the Masters University is doing science the right way.

Honest science, true science, objective science, studying the creation and understanding the creation the way the Creator designed it. And along that line, I want to mention an event coming up May 31st to June 1st at the Masters University. It is what we call a Mathema Symposium. Mathema is spelled M-A-T-H-3-M-A. And let me give you some background on the Greek word mathema. It means that which is learned. It's related to the English word mathematics and to the Greek mathetes, which means learner or disciple in the New Testament. Now, what is the goal of the Mathema Symposium?

Let me help you understand that. There are many Christians who are studying and working in the sciences across this nation and even around the world. We want to bring those who are Christians together, who do science in an honest and genuine way. Why do we want to bring them together? Because we think they would enjoy the fellowship that they could have with others of like precious faith.

Let's face it, a Christian science guy or gal in a university could be very much a pariah, an outcast with the dominance of evolutionary science. And this would be an encouraging experience for those of you who serve the Lord in the field of mathematics or any STEM field, which is science, technology, engineering, and math, to come together with other believers and enjoy some wonderful fellowship and some dynamic instruction as well. The Mathema Symposium will be a time to recharge and refresh, to be encouraged from God's Word, to build connections and even friendships with fellow believers in similar vocations.

And I will be speaking at this event along with our distinguished scientists and NASA astronaut, our friend Jeff Williams and Dr. Avner Chow, president of the Masters University. To register, go to this website and make note of its spelling. It's masters.edu and then slash Mathema. And Mathema again is spelled M-A-T-H, the number 3 M-A. Again, masters.edu slash Mathema.

Thanks John. Friend, if you're involved in the sciences as a professional or as a student, you'll want to attend the Mathema Symposium. Register at masters.edu slash Math, the numeral 3, M-A. And to let us know how God is using these broadcasts in your life, contact us here at Grace2U. You can write to Grace2U, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412 or send an email to letters at GTY.org. And again, to register for the Mathema Symposium at the Masters University, go to masters.edu slash M-A-T-H, the number 3 M-A.

And again, Mathema is spelled as one word, M-A-T-H, the number 3 M-A. The symposium takes place May 31st through June 1st, and space is limited, so reserve your seat right away. And this reminder too, for additional study on the Bible and science, specifically the issue of creation, John has written a book called The Battle for the Beginning. You don't need to be intimidated to take a stand for a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of origins. This book gives a step-by-step analysis of six-day creation and how it meshes with true science. The Battle for the Beginning costs $11 and shipping is free. To order, call 800-55-GRACE or go to GTY.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Be back tomorrow as John launches a timely study that will help you navigate the current confusion, chaos, and unrighteousness that seems to have reached new heights in our society these days. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-15 05:22:20 / 2024-04-15 05:33:08 / 11

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