Tim Keller | October 17, 2010
The gospel affects how you do your work, how you do your job, and how you pursue your vocation. How does that affect your work?
If we’re going to understand what Paul says in this passage, we need to look at 1) some background work and historical context, 2) practical principle number one, 3) practical principle number two, and 4) the power to carry them out.
Paul’s teachings show us how the message of Jesus can positively impact our work and everyday activities. He encourages us to do our tasks sincerely, as if we’re doing them for Jesus Himself. He also tells people in power to be fair and kind. To understand this better, we need to look at the time when these teachings were written and draw out two main ideas, along with the inner strength to put them into practice.
1. Background work
To understand phrases like “Slaves, obey your earthly masters,” we need to know the culture of that time. Paul wasn’t promoting or attacking slavery. He was giving advice to people living in a time when slavery was different than what we know today. It wasn’t based on race, it wasn’t always for life, and slaves had some rights. His teachings are still useful, helping us to find purpose and happiness in our work, like the early Christians did.
2. Practical principle one
Paul’s message was surprising for his time because he said slaves should be treated fairly and with respect. He taught that all work is a way to serve God and should be done with dedication. The Reformation later emphasized this, teaching that faith and God’s grace, not just good deeds, lead to salvation, and that everyone has a special role to play in serving God. The church sometimes forgets the importance of regular jobs and the role of work in our lives. We need to remember that all work and all workers have value.
3. Practical principle two
Paul’s teachings tell slaves to respect their masters, but to remember that Jesus is their true Master. This idea helps us avoid overworking by reminding us that our worth and reward come from Jesus, not from worldly success. If we’re unhappy with our jobs, we can remember that Jesus sees everything we do. Working for Him, not just for human bosses, makes us valuable employees and strengthens our relationship with Jesus.
4. The power to carry them out
Being happy and respectful because of Jesus helps us serve and be kind to each other. Remembering Jesus’ service to us, shown by His death on the cross, can change the way we see work and relationships. It can help us see Jesus as our true Master. By understanding the spiritual importance of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can find joy in our work and serve others with a fresh, positive attitude.
February Book Offer
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.
February Book Offer