Taking Church to Work

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1 Timothy 6:1-2

INTRODUCTION: Please take your Bible and turn with me to the book of 1 Timothy 6:1-2. Our message series is called “Doing Church Together,” and we have been looking some of the various things God has called us to do together as a church. Today we are looking at the topic of taking church to work.

1 Timothy 6:1-2 – 1 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them. (NIV)

What do I mean by “taking church to work?” That is an odd phrase at first. Some people take their work home with them, but what do we mean by “taking church to work?”

First of all, I do not mean taking the worship service to work with you. We often think of church in terms of Sunday morning worship, so that might be the first image that pops into your mind. I can just see it now. You arrive at the office on Monday morning. The worship team sets up in the corner, and your boss walks in to the sound of guitars and voices singing praise songs to the Lord. Actually, that would be pretty cool, but that is not what I mean by taking church to work.

Church is not the worship service. It is not the building. The church is the people of God living out their faith in Christ together. At certain times the church gathers together. At other times the church is dispersed throughout the community. We do not we cease to be the church just because we leave a building on a Sunday morning. On Sunday mornings, and at other times, we gather to worship God together as the church. Throughout the week we go out into the world to serve God together as the church. And that includes serving God with your work.

That’s what I mean by taking church to work – realizing that your work matters to God; understanding that work is one of the primary ways that you serve God in this world; allowing your faith in Christ to shape your attitude and actions in the workplace. Do not separate your life in Christ from your life at work. You are first and foremost a Christian, and therefore your relationship with Christ should affect everything that you do.

The first thing I want you to do in preparation for today’s message is to think about your place of work. For some of you that may be at an office. Some of you may work at various locations or on the road. Others of you may work at home. I also do not want you to limit the idea of work simply to “paid work by a company.” If you are a stay-at-home mom, then that is your work. If you are a student, then school is your work. Whatever tasks God has called you to fulfill during the course of the week – that is your work. Now, picture that in your mind. Have you got it? Good, then let’s get started.

I. Worship while you work.

How do you take church to work? We are going to look at three ways you can take church to work with you. First of all, worship while you work. This is not part of our text this morning, but it is an important principle for you to grasp as a Christian. All of life belongs to God, and we should seek to glorify God in all that we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

This general principle of glorifying God in all that we do is applied specifically to our work in a number of places in Scripture. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Ephesians 6:5-8 says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”

If this is such an important principle, you may wonder why Paul didn’t include it in his instructions to Timothy here in 1 Timothy 6. One reason may be that Paul had already sent these instructions to Timothy’s church. Remember, Timothy is at Ephesus, and Paul had written the letter to the Ephesians several years before this letter. And so the people at Ephesus would already have received this instruction that they were to worship or serve the Lord through their work.

No matter what we are doing we can turn it to worship by offering it to back God in faith and love. We saw this principle back in 1 Timothy 4:4-5 where we read: “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” Now this doesn’t mean that we should spend our whole time at work praying with our eyes closed or singing songs of praise out loud. But it means that we invite God into our work, we offer our work to him, and we seek to glorify him in all that we say and do.

Some of you might say, “You don’t know my job. You don’t know the people I work with. I don’t even like my job. How can I worship while I work?”

Charles Drew is the author of A Journey Worth Taking, a book about work and calling and finding your purpose in this world. (Here is a link to the book: http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/5189)

Listen to these wise words from Drew about worshiping God while working in a fallen world:

It is not always easy to worship while we work. Thanks to the fall, there is no job—whether it is raising children, running a bank, or working as a carpenter—that does not have its dreariness. Nevertheless, God made us for work, Jesus is present with us in our work, and Jesus will one day completely fix work. For these reasons, we should seek occasions to thank God for and in our work.

He then goes on to give these 5 reasons why we can be thankful to God for and in our work:

  1. Simply to be given something to do that brings order into our life is cause for thanks. If we get paid for it, all the better.
  2. Work often presents us with people to love—and this is good for us (especially when it is hard).
  3. There are, or course, those occasional jobs (or occasional tasks within a particular job) that we actually enjoy doing—for which it is only right to worship God.
  4. Then there is the recollection of how much worse work might be for us if we lived at a different time or under different circumstances—a recollection that should train our faith to see the hand of the Redeemer at work, and to thank him.
  5. Finally, there is the promise of consummation—of a coming world in which all toil will finally be taken from our work—and for this hope we worship God (especially when we are acutely aware of the toil in what we are presently doing).
  6. (Note: These five points are taken from an interview with Charles Drew at: http://www.westminsterbookstore.com/?p=99)

II. Witness while you work.

How do you take church to work? First of all, worship while you work. Secondly, witness while you work. You know the song, right? (Sing to the tune “Whistle While You Work”) And here is where we get into our text in 1 Timothy. Look at verse 1 with me: “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.”

In this verse Paul is talking about slaves and their unbelieving masters. We can’t get into a whole discussion on slavery today. Suffice it to say that although the Bible recognized slavery as a reality in its day and time, and taught believers how to live and act in such a world, the Bible also paved the way for the eventual elimination of slavery in societies that followed biblical principles – principles such as the brotherhood of believers, all men are created equally in God’s image, loving your neighbor as yourself and treating other how you would like to be treated. In a sense the Bible was a time bomb ticking in society just waiting to explode the institution of slavery into oblivion.

So although Paul is talking to slaves in this verse, we can apply the same principles to our working relationships today. In fact, since these principles applied even to slaves under their masters, how much more should we apply them to our own voluntary working relationships.

And Paul’s instruction here is crystal clear: “Consider your masters worthy of full respect.” Notice that the masters may or may not actually be worthy of full respect. But the command is that you should consider them so. No matter how bad your boss may be, you should still treat him or her with the utmost respect in all that you say and do on the job.

And why does Paul say that you should you consider your boss worthy of full respect? Look at the end of verse 1: “so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” In other words, this is part of your witness. If you are a Christian, then you bear the name of Christ. You represent God and the church before a watching world. If you treat your boss or fellow-workers disrespectfully, they may then speak evil against God and the teachings of Christ.

Paul gives further instructions in this area in Titus 2:9-10 where he says: “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” You see, that is what we want to do at work and in all of our relationships. We want to make the Bible’s teaching about God and Christ attractive to other people, not push them away.

So how do you do that specifically at work? Paul gives you four specific things you can do in these verses from Titus:

  1. Try to please your boss – Work hard. Do a good job. Follow instructions. Get to work on time. One worker habitually showed up late to work, and so his boss took him aside one day and said, “Don’t you know what time we start work around here?” The worker thought for a minute and then answered, “Not really. Every time I show up everyone else is already working!”
  2. Do not talk back to your boss – Dialogue with your boss if you can. Disagree respectfully if you must. But don’t talk back. Consider your boss worthy of full respect. Try to keep good communication lines open.
  3. Do not steal from your boss – You do not respect me if you lie to me or steal from me. Do not steal time, money or company property from your boss.
  4. Show that you can be fully trusted – This is the bottom line in all of this. As you treat your boss respectfully in all of these areas, you will show that you can be trusted. And if show that you can be trusted, then perhaps your boss will also trust you when you have opportunity to share with him about Jesus Christ as well.

So when we say “witness while you work,” we do not mean constantly talking about God and Christ while at work, or putting a Bible prominently on your desk, or trying to convert every one of your fellow workers every day on the job. Now there is nothing wrong with putting a Bible on your desk; and there will be times when it is appropriate to talk with other people at work about God and Christ; and I hope you look for those opportunities and take advantage of them. But Paul’s instruction here has to do with being a good witness at work by respecting your boss and fellow-workers and by proving yourself a good, hard-working, trustworthy worker in all that you do and say on the job. That’s what it means to witness while you work.

III. Do good work while you work!

How do you take church to work? Worship while you work. Witness while you work. And finally, do good work while you work! Look at verse 2: “Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.”

Here Paul shifts from unbelieving masters to believing masters. I suppose the question may have come up in someone’s mind: “If I am supposed to respect my boss so I can be a good witness to him or her, then what if my boss is already a believer? If he or she is already a believer, then I don’t need to be a witness. So, maybe I will just slack off.”

Paul says, “No way. If your boss is a believer, you should show him even more respect, not less.” Sometimes Christian workers will try to take advantage of a believing boss. They figure, “We go to church together; he’s a Christian; he’s supposed to be loving and forgiving; I can probably get away with this.” That is a terrible attitude!

If you are a Christian boss here today, let me say that you do your workers and your company no favors if you let the workers under you get away with a lousy attitude or poor performance on the job. If a worker is not doing good work, then you need to confront him about it, even if he is a Christian, and even if you go to the same church. Be fair with him, be gracious with him as a friend and a brother, but do not allow a worker to take advantage of you just because you both are Christians.

And if you are a worker, do not try to take advantage of your boss because he or she is a believer. 1 Timothy 6:2 says you should serve them even better because “those who benefit from your service are believers and dear to you.”

The word translated “benefit” in verse 2 is a word that literally means “good work.” As a Christian, you should do your best to produce good, quality work in all that you do. First of all, this is part of your worship. If you do lousy or half-hearted work, how can you offer that up to God as a worthy sacrifice? Secondly, this is part of your witness. What kind of a witness are you for Christ if you do substandard work?

And finally, you should do good work while you work because it is the right thing to do. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” God is the ultimate example for us in this. When God created the world, he stopped and evaluated his work, and saw that everything he created was good. God has given you life and skills and ability and tasks to perform. You will not be working forever, so make the most of your working hours while you can. Do good work while you work.

CONCLUSION: If you are a Christian, then you are a part of the church of Jesus Christ. On Sunday mornings we are the church gathered together for worship. But then we go back to our homes and to our places of work for the week. Then we are the church dispersed in the community for service. Let me encourage you to take church to work with you this week. Worship while you work. Witness while you work. Do good work while you work, that God may be glorified in all that you say and do.

© Ray Fowler

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By Ray Fowler. © Ray Fowler. Website: http://www.rayfowler.org

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