THE CHRISTIAN WORK ETHIC

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:5-9

“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.” (Ephesians 6:5-8)

Vocation is a creation ordinance, instituted by God. Adam was given the responsibility by God to work — “The Lord took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). We tend to think that only pastors, missionaries, or other people in professional ministry have a holy calling. This is not true at all. Every vocation is a sacred calling from God. God entrusts His creation to human beings. Thus, no matter what one’s vocation is, it is a holy calling.

Our passage today addresses the responsibilities of employees. We are given several characteristics of a Christian work ethic in these verses. First is submission to authority — “Obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling” (v. 5a). We have seen earlier in this section of Ephesians how God sets up authority structures in the nation, home, church, and, in this case, in the workplace. Employees are to submit to the leadership of their employers. They are to obey those who are in charge.

Second is integrity — “with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (vs. 5b,6). Employees are to fulfill their responsibilities with integrity. They are to be hard-working, honest and diligent in their work.

Third is industrious — “rendering service with a good will to the Lord and not to man” (v. 7). Whatever we do, we are to do our best, for ultimately we are serving Christ and not man. Our work habits reflect our attitude toward the Lord. Thus, we are to be the best we can be in whatever line of work we are in.

Fourth is reward — “Knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free” (v. 8). The ultimate reward is not what we receive from our employers; it is the promise of a reward from the Lord Himself. When we do our best in our vocation, we will receive a reward from Christ. I long to hear Jesus say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:23).

Lord Jesus, I desire to honor You with my work. Enable me to work with integrity. Let me be industrious and hard-working. Remind me that I am ultimately working for you and not for man. Thank You for the privilege of work. Indeed, vocation is a gift from You.


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