What would happen in our world if everyone began to work with this mark of honesty? What would happen in our world if Christians began to work honestly? See, Christianity makes that cubicle, that home, that office, that boardroom, nothing less than a Holy of Holies where God touches earth.
How do you view your work? Do you see it as a mission that God's called you to? Becoming a Christian doesn't come with a mandate to revolutionize the place where you work. However, following Christ does have implications for what kind of employee you'll be in the place where you work. How can you approach work for the glory of God? How can you live out your faith in the workplace? This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey.
Stephen's in a series from Titus called Family Talk. Today, he has a word for those who work called the sacred calling of work. Paul actually puts together a string of participles that describe what it means to be well-pleasing.
Paul refers to complicity, not argumentative. That's how you can be well-pleasing. And he keeps raising the bar, doesn't he?
With each one of these, he's going to raise the bar. The slave in Paul's day had to be submissive. That was the way it was. But now he's told to be reliable. That's even harder. And now he's told, and every employee to this generation is told, don't argue back. Don't grumble. Don't complain. Don't voice displeasure. Okay, I'm going to do it. I get paid to do it. I showed up, didn't I?
I'll do it. But I don't like it at all. He says, don't be that way.
Don't be argumentative. And that effectively shuts down most of the inner office conversation. I mean, what in the world are you going to talk about at the water cooler if you can't run the boss down and talk about your supervisor and how bad the corporation is and the low wages and the unfair treatment?
Oh, lunch is over. Man, I've got to go back to work. Work won't be nearly as fun if you can't do that.
See, Paul is getting under the skin of work to the very spirit of the worker. I can remember when our children were young, they had their chores or she had it all mapped out. And on one occasion, they were getting older, she said, you know, honey, we got to deal with hearts and not just hands. And so she informed them that from now on, they not only had to do their chores in order to get their allowance, but they had to do their chores with a good attitude.
It was six months before I got my allowance. I mean, taking out the trash had a whole new dimension to it. This is the idea here. And by the way, in case you're wondering, this characteristic doesn't mean that you can't express a grievance through legitimate means. It doesn't mean that your boss can't be wrong. It doesn't mean that management is to be complied with if it means you commit sin in so obeying. He's not telling them and us to do something unethical or immoral because your boss demanded that.
A guy come up to me a few weeks ago and he told me I lost my job because I told my boss I would not any longer lie for him. See, it may mean you do have to find another job in order to keep your conscience clean. But Paul is referring here to an employee that isn't being asked to do something immoral. He's just being asked to do something he doesn't want to do. And he says, OK, I'm going to do it because I got to do it, but I want you to know I don't like it one bit.
That's what he's talking about. And you see, for that Christian, with that kind of spirit, he's forgotten that he's on a sacred assignment. This vocatio is a calling from God, no matter how distasteful.
It is where you are and where you are is the calling of God, who sovereignly will work through you to fulfill his purposes. You see, Paul is dealing with the will, humility. He's dealing with the heart, reliability. He's dealing with the spirit, complicity. Now he deals with the hands.
Notice the fourth characteristic is this mark of honesty. At the beginning of verse 10, he throws this in, not pilfering. It's a word used in the Greek world for embezzlement, literally laying on one's side. In other words, it means to put something aside for yourself that doesn't belong to you. The Greek word also referred to someone who was light-fingered.
He's got light fingers. He's stealing from his employer. Not necessarily big stuff, just a lot of little stuff. Supplies, equipment, padded expense accounts, in an hour later, out an hour earlier, not showing up, not doing what you said you'd do, taking a day's work and turning it into three, and all of those things that none of us are guilty of in here.
This is exactly what Paul is referring to. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, by the way, employee dishonesty, I've learned, costs American businesses over $50 billion a year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I read reports that one out of every three, and I found this rather shocking, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that one out of every three businesses that closed down failed because of the direct result, or from the direct result of employee theft.
All the security cameras that companies have are not for people like us that shop there, but people who work there. And again, it isn't necessarily big stuff, just a lot of little stuff. What would happen in our world if everyone began to work with this mark of honesty? What would happen in our world if Christians began to work honestly? Let me tell you about one country that experienced a reformation. It was a revival that swept through Wales in the early 1900s, and over 100,000 people responded to the gospel and came to faith and began to make restitution.
That was the interesting part, which, by the way, happens to be one of the marks of genuine conversion. Over the years, along the coast in the shipyards, which was a major industry, still is, workers had pilfered all kinds of things, stolen. Everything from wheelbarrows to hammers, equipment. However, this article wrote, as people sought to be right with God, they started to return what they had taken, with the result that soon the shipyards of Wales were overwhelmed with returned property. There were such huge amounts of tools and machinery being returned that several of the arts actually put up signs asking them to stop. One sign read, if you've been led by God to return what you've stolen, please know the management forgives you and wishes you to keep what you took. The world didn't know how to handle it. Titus, you want to impact the island of Crete? Start by having all those who serve another stop stealing and return what they had stolen. Do we work with the characteristic of humility?
Do we get all bothered with, and rightly so, with the institution of slavery? Paul tells the slave, would you start working honestly for your employer? And he tells every one of us in this free culture, you want to impact your world? Show up with the distinction of reliability. Show up with the attitude of complicity and the mark of honesty. He adds to the list another, the demeanor of loyalty. He writes, but showing all good faith.
Now you can translate this and it will help to expand it. Show yourself completely faithful in goodness. Show yourself completely faithful. And here's another show and tell, by the way. The word showing here means to show for the purpose of proving a point.
What's the point? You belong to Jesus Christ. Okay, prove it. How do you prove it? He tells them to show this demeanor of loyalty or faithfulness. In other words, prove to your employer that you have the best of intentions for him, her, the place where you work. Isn't that a distinguishing mark of any employee? To show that you have the best of intentions, that you're not there just for a paycheck.
You're actually there to promote the best interests of that corporation. One commentator wrote it this way, the Christian employee should not leave his loyalty in doubt but to give ample evidence of it. Tragically, good faith loyalty to one's employer and to one's fellow employees is a common casualty of the modern work ethic, even among Christians. And I'll tell you, having pastored for many years hearing all sorts of disputes, I can tell you that one of the chief violations in this is when Christians work for Christians. Hey, I'm a Christian. My boss is a Christian. I can get away with this. I don't have to do that.
They ought to just, you know, understand. We're brothers. Loyalty is something that is waning as the Protestant work ethic wanes, where you actually show up with the intention of helping to advance this business. By the way, that mark of loyalty is the very characteristic that set Daniel apart in the Old Testament.
You remember him? It took him from middle management to a senior position in the kingdom of Babylon. The king appointed Daniel over all these political leaders so that the Bible reads, the king would not suffer loss. That's a nice way of saying, so the king wouldn't get robbed blind. He needed an honest man who would be loyal to the crown, loyal to the kingdom, loyal to the king himself.
And you can't help but wonder why would Daniel ever care about the king, about the kingdom of Babylon? He'd been abducted as a teenager. He'd been unwillingly castrated. He'd been made a eunuch.
He'd be single the rest of his life. He was inducted into the political system of education to be used by the government because he was bright. So eventually you find him as you read his biography as about a 90-year-old man. He's so remarkable.
With the kingdoms that had come and gone and now Persia rules and Darius, his new boss, promotes him. Why? Because he knows that man will have my best interests at heart. He won't steal from me. It'll keep all these other politicians clean. And they have only one recourse and that's to try to bump him off. Daniel belongs.
Can you imagine? He's an exiled Jewish man forced to learn a new language, a strange place, a different kingdom that is pagan to the core, and he shows up to advance and for the betterment of this kingdom, raise it even higher. And Daniel never went home, never went home. But it was because of Daniel's loyalty to the king and the king's assignment that God was glorified. In fact, Daniel's legacy of integrity would so set him apart that he would eventually become the leader over all the other Magi who served with him in that office. And Daniel would use his position to teach the gospel through Old Testament prophecies he had at his disposal like the prophecies of Isaiah so effectively that 600 years later, the legacy he began in Babylon will be seen in that entourage of Magi who traveled from Persia with their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh arriving in Jerusalem and posing a question to King Herod, where is he who's just been born the king of the Jews? See, they trace that legacy all the way back to this eunuch who had every reason to be bitter, had every reason to just set minds so that he could just explode the kingdom of Babylon in Persia, instead worked out of loyalty.
Why? He understood. He was on assignment. He was the ambassador of God. See, before you tell your world what the gospel means, make sure they can see the difference the gospel makes in your life.
One more, the perspective of eternity. Paul adds this final purpose statement. Verse 10, so that, in other words, do all the above so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. The word adorn is the word cosmeo, which gives us our word cosmetics. Their lives serve as a beautiful cosmetic which enhances the truth of God our Savior. In fact, that word cosmeo was used in the ancient world of Paul for the setting of jewels in such a way that their beauty would be highlighted.
The setting had everything to do with that. Today you go to the mall, you walk into that jewelry store, and oh, the setting is magnificent. In fact, they have different lights in there than in the mall. Those jewels are going to shine in there, actually, more than they'll ever shine out there.
But in there, they sparkle. You're living, as one commentator writes. A life that adds luster to the gospel of God. What kind of setting are our lives to the gospel of God our Savior? In fact, you read into that this highest of motives. Live a life that adds sparkle to the gospel of God our Savior.
Why? Because your boss needs the Savior. You work for an employer with the thought that your boss and your co-workers and your friends are dead. They're going to live forever one day, but there are only two options, according to the Bible.
Heaven, which is a literal place, and hell, which is equally a literal place. And because of that, you show up, not just to get a paycheck, not to make it through another week to the weekend, or to get to retirement, but because you're the light. You're there to live in such a way that you add luster to the gospel. They see you and they think, man, why does that guy or gal work that way?
What is it about you? Well, let me tell you, I really don't work for you. I work for God. You've got to tell me about this God, because I hate this job. Justin Martyr wrote in the second century that those around believers should be ready to hear the gospel by either watching the Christian's lives or by doing business with them.
I wonder how many people would be receptive to the gospel after doing business with us. No wonder Jonathan Edwards, though, puts this perspective into a wonderful quote when he says he prays that God would stamp eternity on his eyes so that he would view everything in the context of its eternal consequences. See, that turns work into worship.
And that doesn't mean you go out, you do something amazing or famous or big. Paul is basically in his family talk just saying, go do your job, show up, work hard, smile often, stay out of trouble, stay out of the way of troublemakers, don't talk back, tell the truth, don't steal stuff, because you're living for something greater than the weekend or age 65. You're there on assignment to point people to God your Savior. There are a lot of Christians willing to do great things for God. Paul said, would you just go back and do a lot of little things for God? And according to Paul's letters, even little things are events where God through you touches earth. I close with the willingness of a young girl to serve in whatever useful way she could for God's glory. She was taught a lesson and became a lesson for us.
I came across this recently. A pediatrician by the name of David Circhiera wrote this in a Christian journal published just a couple of years ago. He wrote about a little girl five or six years of age named Sarah. He said it all started with my wife's Sunday school class. She had prepared a lesson on being useful to the Lord. She taught the children that everyone can be useful and that usefulness was actually serving God.
And effectively on that level, what I've taught on this level, the same principle. He writes, the kids quietly listened to my wife's words and as the lesson ended, there was a short moment of silence and a little girl named Sarah spoke up and said, Mrs. Circhiera, what can I do? I don't know how to do many useful things. Not anticipating that ready response, my wife quickly looked around and spotted an empty flower vase on the window sill there in the Sunday school classroom. And she said, Sarah, I know what you could do to be useful. You could bring in a flower and put it in that vase. God would be pleased with the difference that would make in this room for everyone who sees it.
Sarah frowned and said, but that's not important. My wife replied, well, if you do it to please the Lord and it will show people the creative glory of God, and in this small way, it will indeed be useful. Sure enough, the next Sunday, Sarah brought in a dandelion she'd picked and she placed it in the vase. She continued to do so each week. Without reminders or help, she made sure the vase was filled with some bright flower, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.
When my wife told our pastor about Sarah's faithfulness to this small task, he actually took the vase upstairs in the main sanctuary and put it next to the pulpit and used it that morning as an illustration for being useful for God's glory. Just a few days later, I got a call from Sarah's mother. She was worried that Sarah seemed to have less energy and didn't have any appetite, and so I made room in my schedule for her to come to the office. Since I was their pediatrician, I saw Sarah the following day. After Sarah had been put through a battery of tests and then several days of examinations, I sat numbly in my office with Sarah's paperwork on my lap.
The results were in. Sarah had advanced leukemia. On my way home, I stopped to see Sarah's parents so that I could personally give them the news. Sarah's genetics and the leukemia that was attacking her little body were a horrible mix.
Sitting at their kitchen table, I explained that there was nothing we could really do to save her life. I don't think I've ever had a more difficult conversation than the one that night. Time pressed on quickly. Sarah became confined to bed and to the visits that many people gave her. And then it came, another telephone call from Sarah's mother asking me to come see her.
I dropped everything and rushed to their home. After a short examination, I knew that Sarah did not have long to live. That was Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning, church started as usual, the singing, the sermon, and for me, great sadness. Near the end of the sermon, the pastor suddenly stopped speaking as he stared at the back of the auditorium.
Everyone in our church turned to see what he was looking at. It was Sarah. Her parents had brought her for one last visit. She was bundled in a blanket and they carried her to the front and she carried in her hand a bright flower. She placed it in the vase that was still perched on the side of my pulpit.
And she also dropped next to the vase a piece of paper that was folded. The service let out and everyone gathered around trying to offer as much encouragement and love and support as they could. This doctor writes, the following Thursday, Sarah passed away.
The pastor asked me to stay behind after the funeral service and we stood together at the cemetery as everyone walked back to their cars. He said, Dave, I've got something you need to see. He pulled from his pocket the piece of paper that Sarah had left by the vase.
He held it out to me and he said, you and your wife need to keep this. I opened the folded paper to read in pink crayon what Sarah had written with help. And it was simply this, Dear God, this vase has been the biggest honor of my life. Sarah.
She got it, didn't she? A simple task would become in her little mind at that stage the greatest honor of her life. Can I ask you to retrace the history of your life for just a moment and what is it, what accomplishment would you consider?
Your greatest honor. I'm convinced that there are going to be a lot of surprised first century bond slaves standing in the presence of their redeemer rewarded and honored for the simplest task. I'm convinced there will be many surprised 21st century Christians as well.
I'm convinced there are a thousand things and a thousand more we never imagined would be considered an honorable thing. That's because we've gotten away from this idea of vocatio and even the milking of a cow as worship. You see, this is the way we're to live and to tackle the tasks assigned to us and in so doing display the beauty of the gospel and the treasure found in God our Savior. We have far too many Christians who believe that Christianity is doing something big, something great for God. We need more Christians willing to do something little for God, something simple, something mundane, something ordinary like putting a bright flower in a flower vase on a windowsill in a classroom for someone to see.
Something, anything done for him is useful where the glory of God through a willing servant actually touches earth. You know, no matter where you work or what kind of work you do, every one of us has the opportunity to reflect God's glory in our work. I hope today's time in God's Word has helped you think biblically about your work today. I hope today's time in God's Word has helped you think biblically about your work today. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. You can learn more about our ministry by visiting us online at wisdomonline.org. If you'd like to listen to this message again or share it with a friend, you can do that from our website. The message is called The Sacred Calling of Work.
It comes from a series out of Titus 2 called Family Talk. Our phone number is 866-48-BIBLE or 866-482-4253. When you call, ask how you can get three complimentary issues of our monthly magazine, Heart to Heart. We'd love to tell you about it. How do you express God's grace in your life? What words do you use? Tomorrow, Stephen has a lesson called Learning to Say the Right Words. I hope you'll be able to join us for that right here on Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-18 21:38:09 / 2023-11-18 21:47:52 / 10