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Work is a Holy Calling

Col 4:1 “Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.”

colossians-3-23-791x1024In this and the verses immediately preceding (3:22-25), Paul upholds the duties of slave and master, the modern parallel being employee and employer. (Scripture never advocates slavery, but recognizes it as part of the ancient culture.)

The verse is more than an admonition for believing masters (bosses) to treat their slaves (employees) justly and fairly— it is a call to consider their behavior in light of the Master in Heaven. Employees should work eagerly, honestly and respectfully, employers should not be oppressive, but create a fair and just work environment. Whether employer or employee, Scripture places a holy calling on work—as it was an important and dignified part of representing the image of God and serving Him, even before the Fall (Gen 2:15). This is what gives our work value, because God Himself declares it to be important, and desires our service to Him in every aspect of our lives. It is not necessarily the job itself that is holy, it is offering it to God as service that is. The result of this has many implications, especially in the way of integrity and interpersonal relationships.

The Lord calls us to a higher standard, not to show off or lord over others, but because we are “working unto the Lord” (Col 3:23). Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, in his book, Every Good Endeavor, calls this “Work as a Ministry of Competence.”

“If God’s purpose for our work is to serve Him and others, then the way to best serve Him is to do the job as well as it can be done.”

Also, in the way of interpersonal relationships, relating to others in the work place can have its challenges. The apostle Peter tells those working for bosses to be obedient and respectful, not only to the good and gentle ones but also to the unjust (1 Peter 2:18). As we are faithful and respectful, even in difficult situations, we honor Christ, as He knew what it was to suffer unjustly.

For many believers, there is too big a discrepancy between their actions on Sunday verses Monday. As we come to worship the Lord at church, we should be considering ways that we could honor the Lord during the work week. As believers, there should be a “seamless robe,” as one workplace commentator put it, between our work week and our Sunday service. All of it is the worship of God and all of it is to be holy.

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