B95 - Please God by working heartily on your assignment (for employees' only)
1 Peter 2:18-19 says,
‘Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.’
Eph 6:5 says,
‘Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling with a sincere heart, as you would Christ …. Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.’
The world during Biblical times is very different from ours. There were no unions to protect the workers and slavery was acceptable. The Roman Empire was in charge and democracy was nowhere to be found. Job hopping was an unknown.
The Greek word, ‘Servants’, in 1 Peter is oiketes or a household servant while Eph 6:5 refers to doulos or a slave.
Interesting thing in 1 Peter 2 is that believers are told to be ‘subject to your masters …. Also to the unjust.’ Christians are reminded not to rebel or to lose their cool.
In B93, Obey your parents in the Lord, we saw how Jesus himself, despite being the Son of God, was ‘submissive’ to his parents. So, submission is not a negative thing.
But what about ‘suffering unjustly’? Is the passage from 1 Peter historical or just as relevant to our present-day?
One issue we face in our era is negative connotation associated with trials caused possibly by our years of comfort. Hence, a new millennium term has been coined – ‘snowflakes’.
When do we suffer, and when do we quit? Here are our thoughts:
If a believer is certain the job that they are doing has been assigned by the Lord, then endurance, despite the ‘suffering’, should be a natural progression. And if a believer is uncertain, then there is nothing to show that he/she should not look for a new job.
The last thing a believer should do is to murmur and complain (Please see in ‘Sins’, S112 – Grumble, murmur and complain at God). It is never edifying to grumble and complain.
B96 - Please your employer (for employees' only)
‘Bondservants …. Be well-pleasing.’
The Greek word is euarestos or well-pleasing (especially to God) and grateful. Serve your employer by doing a great job with integrity.
Murmuring and complaining is not a sign of being well pleasing. See S112 – Grumble, murmur and complain at God.
B97 - Do not pilfer (for employees' only)
B98 - Do not be argumentative (for employees' only)
Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative
The Greek word for ‘argumentative’ is antilego, that is speak or say in opposition/ contradict especially in a hostile way.
We must be prepared to discuss and debate our issue, like when Moses implored God not to destroy the children of Israel in Ex 32:11.
But do not be hostile. Instead, present your case in a manner to be heard.
B99 - Do our job heartily for the Lord (for employees' only)
Col 3:23 says,
‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.’
The Greek word, ‘heartily’, is the word, psuche, or from the human soul or breath of life. The parallel translation uses the term, ‘with all your heart’ (NIV), or ‘with your whole being’ (Berean). The CSB uses ‘do it FROM your heart.’ That is, do it because you want to do it.
Everyone loves a cheerful worker, even for someone who is volunteering. Hence, find a reason for going to work and do our job with all our heart. Again, you will realize that this is really the opposite of murmuring and complaining.
It is good to remember who and why we are doing in whatever things that we are doing. Have a good attitude.
B100 - Honor our employer (for employees' only)
‘Regard their own masters as worthy of all honor.’
The Greek word ‘honor’ is time – that is, there is value in the eyes of the beholder.
That ‘God’s name and the teaching may not be reviled.’
Of course, here we are referring to bondslaves or slaves at a time when slavery was acceptable. But how does an employee honor an employer? Here are some suggestions:
- Act with integrity,
- Be on time,
- Be respectful even when we disagree,
- Don’t pilfer,
- Don’t gossip,
- Don’t lie,
- Work as hard as you can.
These are general guidelines. Please feel free to suggest others.
Then, there is the issue of dealing with Christian employers.
1 Tim 6:2 says, that ‘If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. (Instead) those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved.’
B101 - Ensure that we have an agreement with the employer (for employees' only)
Jesus was explaining in a parable about how all laborers were paid exactly the same amount regardless of when they started work. Those who started earlier were aggrieved that they were paid the same.
But Jesus’ reply was ‘I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?’ (Matt 20:13).
What is our relationship with our employer?
As an employee in the 21st century, it is important that we know what we have agreed with our employer, even verbal ones. In fact, always request for a written contract in order to manage expectations for both parties, even in a church setting.
B102 - Do not threaten an employee (for employers' only)
Eph 6:9 says,
‘Masters, do the same to them (that is, influence them by love rather than fear), and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with him.’
Do not be a tyrant. When a person is in a position of power, how often is it possible to exert that power on someone who is in a lesser position? Yet, Apostle Paul reminded these slave owners not to threaten their slaves. The word is apeile and it means simply ‘threatening’ or a ‘threat’.
In B103, Be fair and just to an employee, Masters are reminded to be fair and just to the staff. It is a privilege to be an employer and it must not be abused.
B103 - Be fair and just to an employee (for employers' only)
‘Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.’
This scenario relates to slaves. Slaves don’t have much choices; for one, they cannot resign.
Philemon, to whom the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to and which subsequently was adopted as one of Paul’s Epistles, was a slave owner. From the Bible, it does not seem that it is a sin to be a slave owner.
The Greek word is isotes and it refers to fairness and equality of treatment. It does mean fair compensation, performance recognition, training and development, and career development for the staff. It also means integrity (fulfilling what has been agreed) and walking the talk of being a believer.
It is, therefore, always helpful to have a written contract so expectations of both sides are managed.
Working under a Christian employer may result in raised expectations regarding conduct for both parties. It might be useful for the employer to clarify the ‘offence’ process within the context found in B357 to B368, Handling Offences.
B104 - Show compassion before judgment (for employers' only)
In Luke 13:6-8, Jesus spoke a parable of the barren and unproductive fig tree. Yet, the vinedresser pleaded its case to ask for more time before taking action.
James 2:13 simply says,
‘For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.’
Longsuffering and patience are important traits of God that flow out of compassion. When dealing with employees, it must also be within Christian employers to be compassionate and patient. While judgment is still present, it is important for an employer to provide avenues so that the staff can demonstrate improvement.
Among the stories of the Gospel is one that demonstrated compassion and love – that of the Centurion who pleaded with Jesus to heal his servant (Matt 8:7).
As believers, we must practice love, appreciation and compassion for our employees because those are the exact values that our Lord showed us when we came to him.
Practice compassi0n before judgement.
B105 - Have a written contract before start of work (for employers' only)
In Matt 20:13-15, Jesus spoke about the parable of hiring laborers to work in the vineyard. The vineyard owner went out to the marketplace to hire workers at different time. Yet, each time, he would promise the same reward – one denarius; it did not matter if the worker worked a full-day or just an hour – the pay was the same.
At the end of the day, the obvious occurred; those who started work earlier complained and were unhappy with their wages. Of which, the owner responded,
‘Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’
With an employee, it is important to spell out expectations on both sides and a written contract of employment is always useful.
Hence, as a Christian employer, manage the expectations of your staff to reduce confusion and misunderstanding; it is also important to have a fair and just contract (Please see B103, Be fair and just to an employee, for more information).
B106 - Do not withhold wages (payment) through fraud (for employers and businesses only)
‘Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.’
It probably does not only include wages but how businesses deal with their suppliers and contractors.
Workers and the family of workers need to be fed. It is therefore imperative for a Christian employer (and business) not to hold back the wages of his/ her staff (including suppliers and contractors), especially through fraud.
In the context of accounting, delay payment might be one way of maintaining a good cash flow but it is fraudulent and not God-glorifying.