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How to Stop Wasting Your Life, Part 2

From the series Answering the Call

Deep down, do you want to do something great with your life? God made you to make a difference. He uniquely gifted you to accomplish something that no one else can accomplish. The question is do you know what your calling is? If you want to know how to find out, join Chip as he continues his current series, “Answering the Call.”

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Message Transcript

The second principle is, Christians are to make pleasing God their goal, not impressing people at work. Notice verses 6 and 7. It says, “Not with eye-service,” pleasing men, “but as bondservants of Christ” – get this – “doing the will of God from the heart. With good will doing service” – just in case you missed it – “as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

Quality control for the follower of Christ is not in the eye of the boss, it’s in the eye of the Lord. When the boss leaves at three thirty, followers of Christ don’t leave at a quarter of five. They leave at five. When the boss isn’t around, and it’s Friday, and everyone’s making these excuses, and the parking lot gets empty, followers of Christ are there until their job gets done.

And they stay, and they fulfill what they’re going to do, because whether the boss is there, or not there, followers of Christ do their job unto Him. Notice, “as slaves to Christ,” doing your very best, not as though, but because Jesus really is your Boss. He’s your Supervisor. He examines your work.

You can work for God, full-time, wherever you work, first, if you obey and honor your supervisor – an act of worship – and, second, if you make pleasing God your goal, not impressing people.

The third principle is, Christians can endure and excel, even in difficult work situations, because of the certainty of their reward. Did you pick that up in verse 8? This is hard.

I would not have wanted to be a slave, going to church the morning that this passage got read for the first time. I’d have been whining in the chariot all the way home. Or, probably, if I was a slave, I’d be pulling the chariot – “Hey, boss!” I mean, “Is he serious? Paul must have been hallucinating. This can’t be God’s Word! Maybe he’s had a stroke. Maybe he’s on drugs. He doesn’t know my boss.”

And then, well, actually, when Paul wrote this, he was in prison, and getting beaten. Oh, I guess he does understand. How is this possible? It’s possible because you get grace.

The Christian life is not hard; it’s impossible. Only Christ can live the Christian life. He has taken up residence in your body, and my body, if, at some point in time, you have recognized that you are a sinner, and that you fall short, and you don’t have it together, and you need Him, and you’re willing to humble yourself, and bow your knee and your will, and say, “God, I need You. I’ve messed up. I have lied. I have stolen. I’m not the man, the husband, the woman that You want me to be. I need Your help. Will You please forgive me? I turn from my self-dependency, and my self-will, and I ask for Your forgiveness. And I believe that You dying on the cross, in my place, paid for my sin, and that when You rose from the dead, in space/time, history, and actually, for forty days, had five hundred eyewitnesses. So, this isn’t some dream. It’s not some religion. It’s historical. I’m trusting in what You’ve done.”

When you do that, and believe, and receive Him, the Spirit of God comes inside of you, and you are taken from that kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of light. And the only Person that can live the Christian life is Jesus. He now lives in you, by means of the Holy Spirit.

And so, your job is not to try hard to be a good person, and be religious, and go to church, and earn some merit with God. You have His favor. Your job is to abide, and surrender, and allow Christ to have His way, and take the Word of God, in the context of biblical community, and allow Him, progressively, to change you, so He can do the impossible through you.

And that’s what happened in the first century. And, by the way, it’s happening all around the world. But the great joys of being in places in China, and India, and in the Middle East, where people’s lives are on the line, I meet people, on a regular basis, that look into my eyes, and they tell me.

I was with a pastor who came out of China to meet us, and we met in Hong Kong. And they’re doing some work with us, in terms of getting God’s Word out to people. And just in casual conversation, I asked him how it was going.

He said, “It was very difficult.” While he was gone, his wife, the police came – and they had a home church, and they move it all over the place, but the last couple of times it had been at his house. She convinced them that she was the pastor, that her husband was away working, and she had recruited all the people. They took her down to the police station and beat her to a pulp. And he came back from an evangelistic trip, and his wife is all beaten up.

And in my mind, I’m thinking, Now, how would I respond, if that was Theresa? And I’ve just got to tell you, my immediate reaction was, I’d want to find out where those police live.

And then, I asked him, I said, “Well, how are you doing with that?” And I’m expecting him, thinking, Well, I’m dealing with my anger pretty well, and – and in all sincerity – he’s sitting here, and I’m sitting here – he just looks me in the eye, he says, “I just had no idea what a privilege it would be to suffer for the sake of Jesus, and to, in some way, participate in His suffering for the sake of His bride.”

And I just thought, No human being can do that. That’s the Spirit of God, and the life of Christ, in a normal, regular, ordinary man, who has gotten perspective. And when he reads his Bible, he doesn’t skip 1 Peter, like American Christians. He doesn’t skip 2 Timothy 3, where it promises persecution. He doesn’t think it’s surprising that these things would happen. When he heard Jesus say, “In the world you’ll have tribulation,” he goes, “Yep, I understand that one.” “But be of good cheer, I’ve overcome the world.”

Now, what I want you to know is, this response is what was at the heart of transforming the world. And that’s what God wants to do today, through normal people like you, and me. We can endure, and even excel, in our difficult work situations, because of the certainty of God’s reward – verse 8 – “knowing that whatever good anyone does…”

That Chinese man’s response was a good response. His wife’s response, to protect him, was a good response. It was painful, but it was good. These slaves’ positive response, even after being beaten, is a good response.

How do you hang in there? You hang in there because of what? Knowing with certainty God will reward His children for whatever good we do. And you trust God’s promise of reciprocity. So, if you endure this, and do it good here, God promises, “I’m going to bless and reward you, over here.” Most of our problem is, we tend to think that life is a little string of now, called “time.” But a biblical worldview is, no, life is eternity.

And, actually, the Bible, what you really have is, you have eternity, and then you have Genesis 1 and 2, and then you have a parenthesis. And it was a perfect environment. God created us. And this parenthesis, then you have sin enter the world, and the parenthesis goes all the way to Revelation chapter, right about 20. And then, you have another parenthesis.

And here’s this little thing called “time” that you live in and I live in. And then Jesus comes back – new heaven, new earth, and it goes on forever and ever and ever and ever. And what happens in that little parentheses determines, and has impact on, what happens forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

So, when Jesus talks about money, His economy is about the forever economy. So, instead of sacrifice, He says, “Let’s see, would it be smarter to lay up treasure just for now, in the little parentheses, and then when you get here, you can’t spend it” – it’s like Confederate money, and the war is over. It doesn’t work anymore – “or would it be better,” – notice this phrase – “store up treasure for others”? Is that what it says? “Store up treasure for yourself, where moth can’t eat and robbers can’t steal.”

His point was, “My economy is eternal, and when I look at it, I want what’s best for you. So, when this parenthesis ends, and I come back, and there’s a new heaven and a new earth, and it’s forever and ever and ever, I’d like you to have some resources. I’d like you to have some blessing. I’d like you to have some reward.”

And you can endure anything, if you have hope.

Back then, and now, as, hand-in-hand, they went into the Coliseum singing? Nero would actually put them on poles, and wrap them with tar, and he would have cocktail parties, and then he would light them. Church historians say, as they were burning, they would be singing hymns of praise to God, being counted worthy to suffer for His sake. That’s a little bit different brand of Christianity than we’re selling around here, isn’t it?

Notice what he says – Peter writes to these slaves. He says, “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.”

He’s just saying the same thing. “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing what’s wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable” – or finds favor – “in God’s sight. Because you were” – are you ready for this word? – “For you were called to this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:18 through about 21. Sometimes the work of your hands isn’t related to money.

I have a friend – in fact, he’s the chairman of the board, a previous chairman of the board, stepped down a couple of years ago because of his situation. His wife had a stroke. And in some strokes it causes the same symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and she has gone from being able to talk, and know who he is, to, she can’t dress herself, to, he can hardly travel. He can have no meaningful conversations. And the only thing she can remember, and has any joy in, is watching old black-and-white movies.

And he will tell her, “I’m going to go out of town for a day, and I’ll be back,” and, “Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!” He can walk in one room and tell her that he’s going to go get something, and come back, and she can’t remember, “Where have you been? Have you been out of town?” She gets upset. It’s been unimaginable.

And I said, “Paul, how do you handle it?” Because the guy has an amazing – I’m sure he has bad days – he’s got an amazing attitude.

And he says, “Well, you know” – that’s how he talks – “Well, you know, I got to thinking about it, and Marilyn and I have had over fifty years together, and she’s treated me so well. She’s been a gift from God. You know, eternity’s a long time. It’s a really long time. I’ll get to spend it with her. But I think maybe how good it is might have something to do with how good I treat her now, when she doesn’t have anything to give me. So, I’m just treating her the way I think Christ would want me to. So, I want to love her, but I’m doing it for Him. But I just, every day, get up and think how long eternity is.” See, an eternal perspective transforms your motivation.

The final principle here is, Christian bosses and employers must treat employees with concern, respect, and fairness, as they will be held accountable by God. And you get this sweeping statement in verse 9. And it says, “You masters, do the same things to them.” In other words, all the attitudes, all the respect, all the kinds of ways – you want to treat them as though – why? You need to remember that God is your boss. And then, he addresses the most grievous issue: “Giving up threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”

And you say, “Well, stop threatening, intimidating?” Roman masters had the authority to kill. They rarely did it, but they beat on a regular basis. And you say, “But this is written to Christians. This is in the Church.”

You know, the culture, when you are in a world where this is normal, sometimes our faith gets over here, and our culture is over here, and we can’t make the connection. And so, I’m sure there were Christian masters that were beating their slaves. Just like I bet there are Christian supervisors who lie about their employees, who don’t give all benefits to their employees, who don’t pay time and a half when the law requires it, who get multiple people on part-time so they don’t have to pay benefits, who figure out ways to get loopholes that benefit them, but hurt their employees, and never make the connection, because everybody in the industry does it, right? And they’re a deacon or an elder in their church. It’s a blind spot.

And so, he addresses this directly. He says, “You’d better stop threatening.” He says, “You’d better treat them right. And you’d better realize that Christ is your Lord.”

And the key word here is relationship. See, if you’re a boss, if you’re an employer, if you’re an owner, it’s not – is there a bottom line? Do you have to stay in business? Yeah, but you’d better run your business out of a context of relationship and caring about these people, really caring about them.

And so, I’d just ask, if you’re a boss, or an owner, or an employer to really think about, not what other companies do, not what the corporate standard is. And maybe the corporate standard’s okay – but to say relationship. If the board meeting was just me and Jesus, and we were looking through the employees, and what they need, and where things are at, how would we treat them? What would we do?

And then, you do that. And I will tell you, there are some amazing companies that have been run like this, like Chick-fil-A, and many others, who do things for their employees that you think, How could anyone afford to do this?

A group up in Michigan, I toured a plant where a company, they actually started to – a very, very large company, they built all the insides, put all the interiors of cars, and grew and grew and grew. And they found themselves with more and more single moms with small kids. And they began, then they provided healthcare. And then, when you got pregnant, you would come in – because they couldn’t afford it – and they would check all the women, and make sure they all got care. They later put in a medical clinic for all their employees. And then they put in a cafeteria. Then they put in a recreation area. And I said, “How do you afford all this?”

He goes, “Here’s what’s really funny.” He said, “It’s twenty years, and people ask that.” He said, “I found out what it costs to hire, fire, retrain people, sick leave, all the rest. And there’s a company over here that has five or six thousand employees, like us. There’s another one over here, another one over there. You add up all the people they lose, all the people they have to retrain, all the people that are out sick. I figure we’re probably saving, oh, eight hundred thousand dollars a year.” And he said, “We recruit the top, and the best. They come, ‘You do this for our family, you do this, you do this?’”

He said, “You know what? And we do. We have three shifts. It used to be, you could never get anybody to do the middle shift. No one wanted to do it.” He said, “You come in here at two o’clock in the morning, and after the shift, after they’ve eaten pizza, they’re playing volleyball.” And he said, “You never go wrong treating people great.”