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Redemption and The Work of our Hands (Vol 22) - Work as service #1

Sunday English Service - 15 APR 18


Please turn with me to Ephesians chapter 6. I’m going to spend some time talking about something leading you to the passage that I’m going to read to you a little later. But keep it turned to Ephesians chapter 6. You know that we have been teaching on the subject of work. We first talked about God has designed us as people who work. We’ve been designed, it’s built in. God made us like that, and we showed you why, why we work. We work for the glory of God. We work because God has given us gifts and abilities and talents. We work because God has some things that He’s doing in this world and we are playing a part in it, doing our part in it. So work comes from that. Secondly, the second section of this teaching is about the fall and work. How the fall affected the work. Sin and curse became a reality of human life and that affected work very much. Work was an area that was very much affected by the sin and the fall. Work became a toil. And third section is what we’re talking about right now. We talked about the redemption and the work of our hands. How that Jesus came in to remedy that sin problem and to bring blessing in the place of curse. And we are really talking how that should affect work now and how it should change our work, what kind of impact it makes on our work today.

It is so important as Christians, the kind of outlook we have about work because our outlook or our view of work affects our work. Whatever our view is, that’s what is going to dictate the quality of our work, the outcome in our work. Our view is very important because we’re going to react to work and we’re going to work only in relation to our thinking about work. So it’s very important, our view is very important. Let me illustrate it. Suppose you’re standing on the road and a guy who you’ve never seen and who has nothing to do with you, totally new to you, comes by you and says the Latin name of the common duck is Histrionicus histrionicus  Now what would you do? Here you are standing there, you have nothing to do with this guy, you’ve never seen him, you have nothing to do with him. He just comes and tells you something strange. You understand the sentence, but you don’t understand what he’s saying. In order to understand what he’s saying and to make sense of what he’s saying, you’ve got to build a story, weave a story into the whole thing. Why is he saying this? What is he talking about? Why is he saying this to me? So, you can build different stories depending on what kind of people we are, we building different stories. One story immediately that comes to our mind is, this guy must be really crazy, he’s going out of his mind. No wonder he’s coming and talking to me, I don’t even know him and he’s talking about Histrionicus. Who cares about ducks? Why does he want to tell me the common name for ducks? Crazy, he must be going out of his mind, that’s the reason he’s saying something like that.

Now, you may build another kind of story. You can build different kinds of stories to make sense out of what you heard. Another kind of story that you may build is, you may think, “Well, maybe he’s mistaking me for someone. Maybe he has had a discussion about this kind of thing with somebody, and now he thinks that I’m that person. Maybe I look like that person, so he’s coming and talking this to me thinking that I’m that person that he had a discussion with earlier.” You can still go to a third conclusion, trying to build a story around that sentence that he spoke to you. You may say, “Well, what is he saying? That looked like a code word, he must be a spy from an enemy nation. He’s looking for some contact here who’s supposed to meet him, and he’s supposed to give him this code word so that they can make the connection.” And like this you can go on building up stories to make sense of what you heard. Depending on how you make sense of it, you begin to react to it. If you think he’s a spy, you’d want to call the police, you want to tie him up or do something to him. You know, your reaction will be more or less violent and rude if you thought that he was a spy. If you thought that he’s mistaken you for another person, then you would try to explain it to him kindly, saying, “That’s not me, you’re thinking about someone else maybe. I’m not the person who you’re looking for.” You may be kind to him but explain to him that you’re not the person. If you thought he was crazy and losing his mind, You’ll feel sorry for him, and you may ignore him, right? Reaction depends upon what you view him as, how you see what he said and how you make sense of what he said.

Now I said this to make you understand that with work it’s pretty much the same, we are born in this world, we grow up and all of a sudden we find out we have to go to work. We are trying to make sense out of what is this thing about work. They say I have to go to work. I’ve got to get educated and I’ve got to train myself in some kind of profession. I’ve got to go to work. Why do I have to work? I’ve got to make sense out of it, because before I go to work I’ve got to answer my question for myself. Why do I work? Why should I work? What is this all about? So I try to make sense out of it. And most people, this is what they get out of it. They say, “Well, I’ve got to eat. I’ve got to pay my rent. I need some money for buying clothes. I have some basic expenses. Who will give anything in this world? I’ve got to go to work. So basically, I work because I’ve got to eat. Basically I work to meet my needs, therefore I work.” Now this is the story that a lot of people have in their minds when they go to work. Sometimes it’s very sad, this is all the story they have. I’ve got to go to work because I’ve got to eat. I’ve got to go to work because I have some financial needs, and it gives me the money that I need to meet my financial obligations, so I go to work. This is the story that they have in mind as they go to work. Now if that’s all the story you have, then when you go to work, I don’t think work will be very interesting. It’s no wonder then that statistics say that most of the people are not very passionate about their work. They’re vary disengaged with their work. They’re not engaged at all. They’re not interested at all. They just do it because they’ve got to do it, there’s no other way. And they just do it, they hate it sometimes. Some of them really don’t want to work if they can, but there is no other way out and that is why they work. Why? Because the story is the problem, the story in their mind is the thing that messes them up. The story that they tell themselves about work and why they should work is the problem. But the Bible gives us a totally different story, the gospel’s story.

I told you the gospel has four parts, right? That’s very important because, you know, these days they’ve reduced it to two parts. That is, man is a sinner and Jesus is the savior. They say that’s the pure gospel. One guy was trying to argue with me, “We preach the pure gospel, sin and salvation. We are sinners and Jesus came to save us. That’s all there is to it.” I said, “No.” I said, “Have you read the first chapter? Does it start with saying sin is? No. It says, ‘In the beginning God made the heaven and earth.’ That’s the way it starts. So you’ve got to start it like the Bible starts it.” So gospel is not a two-part story, gospel is a four-part story. It begins with creation, that God created everything and everything that God created was good. The word ‘good’ appears seven times in the first chapter of Genesis. It has reference to what God made. Everything He made was good. God created world, and world is good. And everything He made is good. Everything He made was for man, because the last item of creation was man. Everything was made for man, for man to enjoy.

Now, this will fix a lot of things. A lot of people have a problem with anybody enjoying anything, you know. They don’t want you to even eat well or dress well, or live in a proper home or have some blessings. They have a problem, a hang-up  with all these things because they say, “Oh, how can you do that?” Well, how can we do that? Because God wants us to. God has blessed us with these things. God created the world for man, and everything in the world God placed there for man, man’s enjoyment. He told them, “You may eat of all the fruits of the garden.” You know, the way He says it, it looks like to me that Adam was standing there doubting whether he can enjoy everything, you know, it looked like it’s too much. “Can I enjoy everything? Have a bite of everything?” And God says, “Go ahead, you can eat of all the fruits of the garden, all the trees of the garden, except of this one tree. Of this one tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you may not eat.” So God made everything for man, everything that God made is good. Everything is for man’s enjoyment. This is the first part of the story.

The second part of the story is that sin came and the fall came, and that ruined man’s life. That is only second part. Sin is only second part. You leave out the creation part, you’re missing something very important. So you begin there and then go to sin and how it ruined man’s life. And thirdly, redemption through Jesus Christ, where God sent His son to redeem us from the sin and the fall. And so He has come and done it 2,000 years ago, and now that redemption is going to be consummated and completed with the redemption of all creation, because God began with creation, He’s going to end with creation. God began the whole program with creating the whole world and redemption is going to be complete only when the whole world, the earth and all creation is redeemed. This is a four-part story. And a lot of people don’t want to think about it in that way.

So, this four-part story gives us a good background and a story to build a narrative about work that we can build in our minds. Now that is what I want to talk about. That’s why I told you to turn to Ephesians chapter 6, because here we have a wonderful narrative about work. How we ought to think about work. The view of work as the Bible teaches it. What should we think about work? What kind of story should we build about work? What kind of story should we have in the back of our mind as we go to work? What will help us to have a healthy attitude towards work and to prosper in that area? See the Bible is about you prospering in every area of life. You know, yesterday I was preaching in a meeting from 1 Peter chapter 3, where Peter gives advice to the wife and then to the husband, seven verses. Amazing, when I read passages like that it tells me what the first century Church was like and what they were teaching in the first century Church. Very quickly I understand, “Yeah, the church was interested in people living a successful married life. Successful families was in the interest of the Church. That’s why Peter takes the time to teach them what brings success. To the men and the women he gives some strong advice there. Even Paul does that. When we read passages like that we immediately, quickly begin to see what the New Testament Church is all about. Redemption is at work. God has redeemed us. He has shed His blood on the cross. He has died and risen again. And we may not live like the fallen men under curse, we need not live that kind of life anymore. We must arise and live as redeemed people. And to live as redeemed people we need certain information about what has been given to us and even work is one of the subjects in the Bible. It starts so wonderfully and beautifully, in so many places the Bible has a lot to say about it.

By Church neglecting this whole topic about work, you know, we have made people think that work has no relation to our faith, our belief in Christ. Our faith in Christ and our work are unrelated, we think. Work is one thing that we go and struggle with from Monday to Saturday and we curse everybody around us. And we wish our boss was dead and the office, you know, will shut down or something like that, on one hand. But then we can’t afford it because we need to pay our bills. We need to keep them open and salary is coming in because we need the money, you know. So we are messed up in our mind. We hate the work but yet we show up in the work. And just imagine what kind of hell that place becomes when you hate it and then show up there. Even those who succeed, I mean forget those who are frustrated at work. I mean they’re unhappy at work and they’re frustrated. Think about the ones that succeed but don’t have the right story in their mind. The narration is wrong. In the mind they have the wrong story. They’re working only for themselves. Such people, even though they succeed, they go to work and make others’ lives miserable. They are a success but because of them, others are crying, they wish they didn’t show up at work, you know.

Thank God we all came here today, because we’re going to put the right story in our mind about work. We are a redeemed people. God’s son Jesus, has come and shed His blood on the cross of Calvary, redeemed us from our sin and the fallenness. And raised us up from that spiritually dead state and made us a new people so we have totally new philosophy, new idea, new way of living. And when we go to work from Monday to Saturday, that’s the attitude with which you need to go to work, because that is what will bring satisfaction. And this passage is about that. And this is really a very strange, unusual I’d say passage. Maybe you’ve not thought about it like that. But there is something very strange about this passage, and very controversial about this passage. One of the most controversial passages. People that hate the Bible and hate Christ, use this passage often and say, “See, this is why I hate the Bible. The Bible is full of nonsense. It doesn’t speak to the modern man. It is old stuff that has no relevance for us today”they say. They use this passage that I’m going to read to you to accuse Christians and Christianity of promoting things that are wrong and promoting injustices in the world and being very ancient and old and irrelevant in these days.

So let me read this passage and then explain to you this controversial stuff, so that we can really get into the passage and get something out of it, some truth out of it. The story that we need out of it for our work, that we should keep in our mind. But we need to get the controversy out first. So I need to explain some background for you. So the message will first consist of just explaining the background and then explaining the passage itself and what we need to learn about work and the story, the narrative about work that is there for us as redeemed people. So let me read to you from verse 5. Bondservants, be obedient to those who are masters according to the flesh. With fear and trembling, and sincerity of heart as to Christ. Not with eyeservice as menpleasers; but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With goodwill doing service as to the Lord and not to men. Knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord whether he’s a slave or free. And you masters, do the same things to them. Giving up threatening, knowing that your own master also is in heaven and there is no partiality with him.

Now, where is the controversy here? Some of you may say, “Well, what is so controversial about this?” Now, verse 5 begins with bondservants in my translation, I’m reading from New King James. It starts with the word bondservants. But if you have some other translations, you will find the word slaves. He’s writing to slaves and later on, even in my version, in verse 8 he’s talking about slaves. You know the very word slave is used right there in the English translation itself. There is no doubt it’s talking about slaves, bondservants or slaves. So that is what causes the whole controversy. They say, “Look at this.” Paul, the great apostle, the greatest teacher of the Christian church, is promoting such an injustice as slavery. Slavery was there and he doesn’t even condemn it. It seems like he’s even condoning it, because he’s saying, “You slaves, you be obedient to your masters according to the flesh. And not enough to be obedient to them but with fear and trembling.” You see how it upsets some people? Telling the slaves to be obedient to their masters with fear and trembling in sincerity of heart as to Christ. As you would be in fear and trembling before Christ, you obey your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling, he says. They say, “What an injustice and he turns a blind eye to it, he does not even say a word of condemnation about it. Instead he says, ‘You slaves, be obedient to your masters and fear them with trembling, and fear them as to Christ. As you would fear Christ, you fear them.’”

So I need to say a few things about this controversial issue of slavery. Many people, particularly in America, we had slavery even as far back as 18th and 19th century, there was slavery. And many people use this verse, Christians use this verse to justify slavery. This is one of their favourite passages. They said, “Look here. Paul himself says, ‘You slaves obey your masters.’ And therefore there is nothing wrong with slavery. If it’s fine for Paul and he never cares to condemn, then it must be fine for the Lord Jesus himself and fine for God.” They use this to justify this whole institution of slavery which they had going at that time. That is one type of Christians. There are Christians that are different kinds, you know. But there are other kinds of Christians, the ones that properly understood the word of God. They said, “Look, it is not right to justify your slavery that you’re justifying based on this verse, because the slavery of Paul’s time was totally different from the slavery of America in the 18th and 19th century.” They clearly said, “That slavery and this slavery cannot be the same. There is a big difference, differences in three ways.”

One, the American slavery, the slavery in America was based on race. They went and brought Africans from interior parts of Africa. Loaded them on vehicles and brought them to the ships. Loaded them on ships like you would pack sardines, you know. And brought them to America and sold them in the market as commodities in the market. You could go and check out the man’s body, see how long he’ll last and whether he can work in your farm. And if he’s worth buying and how much you can pay for him. You can buy him just like you buy a cow or whatever, a horse or something like that. This is how it happened. So it was race based. Only to Africans they did it. And they brought them there and sold them as commodities. They were not treated like human beings, they were treated as commodities. And once you became a slave you could never be free from it. That’s it, you’re a slave. If you saw a man going down the street, African man going down the street, he must have been a slave in those days. Why is he going down there? Is he running from somebody? Catch him, return him to his master. He has no right to be out there as a free man moving around. That’s the way it was back in the 18th and 19th century. So, race based, people are treated as commodities with no rights as people. As things they were treated and sold. Thirdly, it was permanent. Slavery was permanent, there was no relief from it, ever. Abraham Lincoln later on freed them completely by Emancipation Proclamation and did justice in that issue. And then they were free. Until then, they could never get free. Only by an order of the president, they were set free.

Alright. In the case of the Greco-Roman world, in which Paul was living and writing here in the book of Ephesians, in that world slavery was different. It was not race based. Slavery was found in all kinds of society, among all kinds of people, among all kinds of races. Anybody could become a slave. And for many reasons they could become slaves. One reason is a big, mighty, powerful kingdom may war against a smaller kingdom and loot the people of their gold and silver, and their possessions and their land and their harvest and everything. And take people as slaves also. Remember the Babylonians came into Jerusalem and destroyed Jerusalem, plundered Jerusalem. Took all the things, even from the temple. And took as slaves some of the Israelites, particularly the very talented, gifted, education ones like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They didn’t want to take useless ones and feed them there in their country. They wanted to take people as slaves who’d be useful for them, that can serve them in some way. So this was very common in those days. Big countries will go to war and take them as captives, and then you have to serve your captives. They entered slavery like that. And some of them entered slavery because of debts. People borrow money and they end up not being able to pay it and if you don’t have any means to pay it then you go as a slave and work your way and pay your debt by working. Remember the story in the Old Testament of the widow and her two sons. The debtors are going to come, the people from whom she borrowed money are going to come and take her sons away because she’s not able to pay back the debt and the husband is dead. That’s where the prophet goes and does a miracle.

Now, this kind of thing was common in those days. So, because of war you can be a captive and end up in slavery; because of debt you can end up in slavery. Some people voluntarily became slaves because they wanted food and shelter and so on and there was no one to give them. So they ended up becoming slaves, offered themselves as slaves and so on. But, it was not race based, it happened in every society. And it was not permanent, there was a way out of it you know. Usually, you served until you paid your debt. Usually, you served a term, a period. There was an expiration date on that slavery. You could come out of it later on. There was a chance that you could be relieved and let go and so on. And you were not treated like a commodity or a thing. You were treated more as a human being in those days because the slaves were given even the rights to go to court if they did not receive fair treatment. In some cases, they could even go to court and claim the right kind of treatment for themselves. So, in these three things the two kinds of slavery differ.

So good Christians who understood this, who have studied the Bible, understood the situation, pointed this out to the other Christians who were saying slavery is well justified because Paul talks about it and so on. They began to say, “Look, that slavery at that time was different. You could get out of it. Anybody was a slave, it was not race based. And people were not treated as commodities. What we are doing is such terrible injustice. This kind of slavery is not right” and so on. But, Paul is not here trying to justify Roman slavery. And no one can justify American slavery. You know, slavery of all kinds at any time to any people is wrong. Let’s be very plain and clear about it. The Bible is also very clear about it. See here, Paul does not condemn or condone slavery. He’s writing for a different purpose. The purpose that he’s writing for is different because of this. In the New Testament church in the first century, a lot of people who believed in Christ came into the church and put their faith in Christ, received baptism, became members of the church. And Ephesian church was one of the largest churches at the time. Paul worked there for two years. Finally, they had to rent a stadium and preach there. The whole of Asia heard the word while he was in Ephesus. He made such an impact on that place. Built a great big church, they say thousands of people must have been in that church. And he appointed elders and so on. And Ephesians church was an important church. And he’s writing to the church. He’s taught them much for two years, he’s writing to the church. In the writing, the first three chapters he covered the doctrine of salvation. The next three chapters, he’s covering practical Christian life. He is telling these Christians how to live their life out as a Christian. So in the fourth chapter he’s talking about all kinds of issues. And fifth chapter he’s talking about family. Sixth chapter he’s talking about parents and children and then about work also. He’s talking about practical Christian living.

And in the church there were all kinds of people. There were people that were slaves in that society. They had already become slaves. Either they were brought in as a captive and became a slave. Maybe because of debts they became slaves like I said, you know. Due to so many reasons they became slaves and then they found Christ, they put their faith in Christ. Now they took baptism, they are in the church, he’s teaching them. And there are free people also. There were people that were successful and free and doing business and so on, lived as free citizens. They were there also. He’s teaching all kinds of people. The church consisted of slaves and free. The letter itself shows that. Here as he writes he writes to slaves as well as to the free. So he’s writing to such people. He wants to give them instructions about how to live the Christian life.

And the reason why he’s not saying anything negative about slavery and condemning slavery and talking about abolition of slavery and all this. Some people say, “Why doesn’t he talk about it. He should have taken it as an opportunity to say a few words and condemn it and reform it or something like that. Why Paul doesn’t say anything about it?” You know, they say. I’ll tell you why, because Paul realized that the slaves situation is not going to change overnight. Tomorrow, the guy has to go to work. He’s a slave. He’s under somebody. He’s got to go to work tomorrow. His situation is not going to change all of a sudden just because they came into the Christian church. They could not just quit jobs. Slaves cannot just quit jobs. They have to meet their obligations. They have to work it out even at that time. It’s not like today where you can just make out a new resume and put it online and wait for somebody to call you, you know. I want a new job, I don’t like this, you know. He didn’t have an option like that. And they could not like we do today if we don’t like a job, we just get off and resign and we go to Dubai or somewhere you know, where you can get a better job. The guy couldn’t do that in those days. It was not like that. It’s not like he could just change tomorrow from being a slave. He could not just take another route for his well-being tomorrow, it’s not that easy. He could not just think of getting off and just going to university and taking a master’s degree and looking for better opportunities. It’s not like that, it’s not like what we have today. It was so difficult. And the man has to go to work tomorrow.

And so Paul was answering the question, if you can’t change the system tomorrow, immediately, if you can’t change your role in the system immediately, it’s not going to happen instantly and immediately. If you can’t change it, if you can’t change your system or your role in the system, that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ to affect how you work tomorrow. You’re a Christian, you’re not going to change the system in one day. It’s going to take some time as societal reformation must happen. Don’t know how long it’s going to take. You’re not just going to change your role just like that, it’s not going to change. In that case, you’re going to go to work tomorrow and work as a slave. How are you going to handle it? Is your faith in Jesus going to help you continue your work in that way? Paul is trying to say if you have the right narrative in your mind, if you have the right story in your mind, not the sad story of you know, “I’ve become a slave and there’s no other way to get my food, to pay my debt. I’ve got to go--” No. If you don’t have that story and have a bigger story and learn this gospel story and see your work in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and understand it in light of that, yes certainly you’ll see that your faith has something to do with your work. Your faith can certainly impact your work.

So let’s look at this, how can our faith impact our work. We read 5 to 9. But in those verses, 5 to 9, there are three phrases I want to point that out to you today. One is the phrase As to Christ, in my translation. Depending on what translation you have, at the end of verse 5 Paul is saying Bondservants be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart as to Christ. What he means is obey your masters with fear and trembling, as you would obey Christ. That’s what he means. So as to Christ. Just like you’ll obey Christ, you obey your master, he says. So As to Christ is very important. And then in verse 6, As bondservants of Christ, as slaves of Christ, you know. As servants of Christ, he’s using that phrase there. As servants of Christ. That’s the second phrase. And then in verse 7, As to the Lord. So as to Christ as slaves or servants of Christ, as to the Lord and not to men. These three phrases are very important. Whenever in a passage you have something like this occurring again and again. As to Christ, as slaves of Christ, as to the Lord. you’ve got to stop and note it because that’s the point he’s trying to make. What is the point that he’s trying to make?

Some people read this and they say, “Oh, I understand now. That boss of mine is a terrible fellow. Tomorrow onwards I’m not going to pay any attention to him and I’m not going to be bothered with him, and I’m not going to worry about him. And I’m going to obey Christ. That’s what it’s saying. Obey Christ, forget about that guy. Obey Christ, forget about your mean boss.” That is not what it is saying. We’ll be glad if it was saying that, I know. Many of us would applaud the Bible if it said that, “Forget about your mean master, mean boss and obey Jesus because he’s a good Jesus. Forget about that guy.” But that is not what it’s saying, but I found that most people think that’s what it’s saying. “Forget about that guy, you obey Jesus.” That’s easy to do, you see, to forget about that guy because we want to forget about him anyway you know. We don’t like him. And obey Jesus, which we’re glad to do anyway. But what it is saying is somewhat more difficult to do. It’s saying obey that guy, not simply obey but as you would obey the Lord. It is not saying, “Think that he is the Lord.” No, no. it is saying obey him just like you will obey the Lord. You’ve got to obey him, you have to obey him as you obey the Lord. Now that is getting difficult, isn’t it? You don’t want to do that. The thing is you want to get rid of that guy from your mind and the Bible is saying obey him. And obey him as you would obey the Lord. Obey him with fear and trembling, it says, in sincerity of heart. What’s sincerity of heart? You can’t have something in your heart and have some other thing by way of action outside. Sincerity means whatever is inside is coming out, right? That’s a very simple meaning of sincerity. Whatever you’re thinking that’s what shows up in your action, right? That’s what sincerity is. So be sincere, from your heart do it, he says. And do it with fear and trembling. Do it as you would do to the Lord. If Jesus came and told you something, how would you do it? In the same way you obey this guy, he says.

Now, in other words, he says ultimately you’re working for Christ. Your boss is working for Christ. You are working for Christ. We are all in a program. So you are working for Him. But by obeying this guy only, you can obey the Lord. You can’t obey the Lord directly, you’ve got to obey your master. You’ve got to obey your boss. By obeying him only, you can obey the Lord. Now turn to Colossians, just a couple of books later. Colossians, a very similar passage is there. Again Paul writing, that’s why such similarity. Verse 23 onwards, And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ. Some translations say, You are serving Christ. You are serving Christ. That’s the reality. The word “are” is a reality word. That’s what is happening right now. That’s what is the truth. That’s what is real. You are serving the Lord. But he who has done wrong will be repaid for what he has done and there is no partiality. So he’s saying Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord. Again the same kind of verse. Do it as to the Lord, as you would to the Lord and not to men. Notice that. Alright. So, it doesn’t mean forget your boss and serve Jesus. It means serve your boss as you would serve Jesus, please get that right. Serve your boss as you would serve Jesus. And that does not mean forget your boss and serve Jesus.

And then go back to Ephesians. Then Ephesians 6 verse 5 is talking to slaves being obedient to masters, right? But go to verse 9. And you masters, he says. Now he’s addressing the boss. You masters, do the same thing to them. Now this is what is very difficult for people to understand. They say, “Do the same thing to them, what do you mean?” The slave is serving the master which sounds right. The servant must serve the master, which is right. But you’re now telling the master, do the same thing to them. What does that mean? You’ll understand that when I explain this to you. See, this whole thing about mutual service, that the boss as well as the servant are engaged in work, both are working and both are working and serving one another. Now this kind of mutuality in service, mutuality in everything, is taught from chapter 5, verse 21 onwards. From there it starts and comes all the way down here. Just go back there and you’ll understand this now, what it’s saying. What does he mean when he says, You masters, do the same. After telling the servants you obey your masters as you would obey Christ, in fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart. After saying that he says, you masters do the same. Do the same what? What should the master do to the slave? How should the master serve the slave? The slave can serve the master, should the master serve the slave? Is that what it means?

Let me show you, verse 21, chapter 5. Now this whole portion from chapter 5 verse 21 is called Household Code they say. Household Code is a code by which a household lives, except the household was different in those days. Nowadays when we say household, we mean me, my wife, and my two children, right? That’s the household. Oftentimes you don’t include even our parents or anybody. Certainly not those who work for us, you know. Household does not include them. We mean me and my three, you know, that kind of thing. But look at Abraham’s household, the Bible talks about Abraham’s household. It says in the 18th chapter of Genesis that God blessed Abraham because he is the kind of guy who will teach these things to his household. Teach the things of God to his household. God blessed him because if you bless him, it will go to a lot of people. A lot of people will learn about God. That’s why God blessed him it seems, it’s his entire household. You know how big his entire household was? You remember one time he went to war against some kings for taking his nephew Lot as a captive? He chose 318 men who were fit for war. He had a lot of servants. Out of them he had 318 who could go on war, fit for war. These are young, valiant guys. 318 guys he chose. So based on that, they calculated, some of the scholars have calculated and they said, “When Abraham was living, he had around 2,000 people who were his dependants, his household.” They all lived in tents around him and his big bungalow tent was in the centre and all his servants lived with him. And he lived in the centre with his family. Just imagine 2,000 people and God looked at it and said, “Boy, we’ve got a society here. We’ve got a whole civilization here. If I bless this guy immensely, this guy is good enough to teach all those people about me and tell them every day about me. Teach them and make them worshippers of the true God.” So God blessed him immensely because the good news will go to a lot of people. 2,000 people living there. He could have had church every Sunday with 2,000 people, readymade, the crowd was there. So that was a household, even his servants were part of his household. That’s what a typical household was in the Old Testament and in the New Testament times.

So, the households had a code. The code is the laws and rules by which they lived as a household, because there’s too many people you’ve got to have some kind of a code. And the Bible interpreters they say, “This is a code. It’s a household code.” And look at this, look at verse 21. Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Paul is talking about the Christian household. And he’s saying, Submitting to one another in the fear of God. It’s not just one person submitting to the other, it’s submitting to one another. Each one in submission to the other. Everybody submits to the other. Everybody lives in a submissive attitude. Nobody is claiming, “I’m the Lord here, everybody submit to me.” even though there are levels of authority, age and all these distinctions are there. Some respect must be given to the father and the children must obey the father. And the wife, husband equations, all those things orders are not disturbed. Without disturbing that order in the house and the hierarchy of power and all that. Without disturbing anything, there was still this element of everyone submitting to one another. That’s what Christianity is all about, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Now, look at the next verse. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Sounds very familiar. We just read in chapter 6 verse 5, slaves obey your masters as you would obey the Lord, very similar language here. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Just like you will submit to the Lord, you submit to your husband, it says. Now, many husbands are happy with that. Verse 25, I should read the other side also. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. Well, that’s a very tall call there. He says husbands, you can’t simply love your wife. You’ve got to love your wife as Christ loved the church. Everything is like Christ, you obey the husband, you obey him like you would obey Christ. You love your wife as Christ would love the church. And then talking about it like that he comes down to chapter 6. See the household code goes on. He says, Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.

You see, for God family is very important. If family is supposed to flourish, if society is to flourish, family must be in order. There must be father, mother, children in obedience to the parents and raised in discipline and so on. This is very important to society. You allow the children to do whatever they want and be disobedient, you know it won’t be very long before the whole society just ruins itself and disintegrates. Everything will go to waste. So God, even in the Old Testament you see that God is very careful about this. When He gave the Ten Commandments, he attached two promises to this. He put obeying the father and mother as one of the Ten Commandments. He said Honour your father and mother. That’s one of the Ten Commandments, and attached two promises to it. And those promises that I mentioned here. He says Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother. That’s the Ten Commandments, which is the first commandment with promise. That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. He says, you want to live long and not die? And you want everything to go well with you? He says honour your father and mother, he says, and literally meant that; because in the Old Testament you read that if any man would raise his hand strike his father or mother, God said kill them.

Some people are shocked, “Did our God say that, brother?” Yeah. Go back and read it, our God said that. Finish with that fellow, why? How can God say something atrocious like this? How can he kill a guy for raising his hand and beating his mother or something like that? How can that be right? In God’s sight it was right because God’s thinking was this, if one guy will do this other guys will learn it and all the Israeli people will start doing it. And then there will not be a nation. There will not be a society. There will not be anything. There will be total chaos and disorder. So stop it with one. It’s like amputating a leg to save the guy. After the doctor gets through, we pay him a couple of lakhs and thank him for taking the leg out, don’t we? Why? Well, taking the leg out is a bad thing but it would have taken you out, you see. And your life is saved, only the leg is gone so you’re thankful. And God saw it like that. Amputate the guy, He said, get him out of that society because if you keep that guy, everything will be ruined. That kind of thing cannot go on. Now, let me be careful here because I don’t want somebody to go home and do it you know. Interpreting the Bible you’ve got to be very careful. As a preacher you’ve got to be careful, you know. It’s like that preacher said it and that’s how I, you know, got it. No. I am not saying go ahead and do it. At that time, God was the ruler over Israel. There was no rule, no king, no prime minister, no court, no judge, and none of that. God was ruling. And God said if you want to live, this is the law and they carried out what God said, that was okay. But now we live in a country, don’t forget that. We have laws, we have codes, we have police, we have all kinds of things. Now all you can do is just give a complaint, that’s all. Let me be very clear about it, you can’t do anything more than that, it would be wrong. Under that economy, under that arrangement, God was the ruler at that time there was no other person and Israel was his people. And God made His will very clear that He’s very serious about the family and that’s why He said that. So you’ve got to take the whole Testament Commandments many times like that. We’ve got to apply to ourselves but apply it carefully. Application is not going and killing somebody, you know, that’s not how you apply by the way. Alright.

And now listen to verse 4, And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Alright. Don’t provoke your children, he says to the father. But bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Bring them up in a chastisement that God sees as right, he says. You’ve got to chastise, you’ve got to discipline. Chastise is not just beating you know, it’s disciplining. And bring them up in the training and in the admonition of the Lord, he says. And then he comes to verse 5, the passage that we read. After talking about wives, husbands, children, fathers, now he says bondservants be obedient as you would obey Christ, obey your masters with fear and trembling, with sincerity of heart and so on. So then, he comes to verse 9. You masters, do the same. There is no doubt in my mind what he says there. He’s saying, submit yourself one to another. The slave obeys the master and the master is also looking out for the welfare of the guy at the bottom. He’s not just a lord over him. He’s not just somebody that is sitting over him and doing whatever he’s pleased to do with him. No, he’s also one who’s supposed to care for his welfare and do right things for him and make sure that he’s needs are taken care of. So he says servants, you obey your masters. Masters, you be very fair and right to your servants. In other words, in simple terms you can say that, slaves you serve your masters in the way that you ought to serve. Masters, you also serve your servants in the way that you are supposed to serve. It’s mutual service. Work must be done as service, he says.

Now, how can this happen? The whole story must change. It has to do with who I am. That I am a redeemed person, I’m in Christ. I belong to this household of God and this is the household code. This is what we go by. I, as a Christian and you as a Christian, this is the way we do things. This is the way we live. In family, we live like what we read right now. Between children and parents we are like what we read just now. And between bosses and servants or slaves, we are like what we just read just now. Everywhere you can see Christ. Everywhere you can see that it is as to Christ. As you would do to Christ. As you would serve the Lord. That is the way you do things. Everywhere it is patterned after Christ.

Now, how do you know? Some of you are looking maybe saying, “Well, I have my own story like the three stories you told about the guy who talked about the duck. I can make up my own story, how do I know this story is right. You’re preaching one story, you call it redemption story. You say that this is gospel story, how do I know that this story is right and this is a credible story and this is what is right and this is the best? And that this is the real story?” Let me tell you how I know, because the one behind this story it’s all Christ, you see, it’s all as to Christ. As unto Christ, that’s why those phrases are important. Everything is based on Christ, this person. Christian life is based on this person. And this person was king of kings and lord of lords. He’s the creator of heaven and earth. He left his glory and came down and died for us on the cross of Calvary. Who were we? We were unworthy people. We were sinners. We were down at the bottom. We were like the slaves of sin and Satan. We were literally slaves. And we were unworthy people and he came down to redeem us and to save us. And look how the God who made the heavens then came down and served us. He served us. Can the man at the top serve the man at the bottom? Can a boss, master serve the slave? Ask Jesus He’ll tell you, “Yeah, I’ve done it. I’ve shown it to you how to do it. I left my glory. I left my position. I left my place and came down and served you. I looked after your welfare. I cared for you. I wanted you to have peace. I wanted you to have blessings. I wanted you to come up. I wanted you to be blessed, delivered, healed, saved, forgiven. I did that for you.” Yeah, a boss, the biggest boss in the world served the worst slaves. That is what the story is all about. Right?

So we can understand very well, masters, you do the same. In other words He’s saying hey, you do the same. Not just the same as the servant did for you, but you do the same as Christ did, you do the same. You do the same thing as Christ did. So, as a big boss He served the lowest slaves. And then, by coming down, He became like one of us. Took on humanity, became like one of us. Like slaves, He became. Now He’s at the bottom. He’s one among us and look at how He serves His Father, the boss. He says, I do not say anything unless my Father speaks it, and my Father says it. It is my meat  to do the will of the Father who sent me. I do not operate on my own. I don’t live for myself. I have no agenda of my own. I’m not going anywhere, doing anything, speaking anything because I want to. I do everything based on what the Father wants me. Look at what kind of a service that was. As God of heaven and earth, Creator He came down and served us. And then becoming like a servant, He serves God and His will. God says, “Go to the cross and die and He’s ready to die.”

So, if you’re a boss, here’s a wonderful example. You have a boss in heaven who demonstrated to you and I as bosses, how we should be bosses. What kind of a boss we should be, we should be a boss like Him. We should serve a serving boss. Hello. We can have all the titles and everything but we must be serving. Work, even if you’re a boss, is service, that’s what work is. That’s what it is to a Christian because of his perspective, because of his view of work. It is service. Where did I learn it? I learned it from Christ. How did He say it? He showed it. He served me. Who am I? I was a sinner and He served me because of Him I am forgiven, healed, delivered. I am a child of God today. So as bosses we serve. And how about slaves? How about being in the bottom rung of society, you know? Here he’s also an example also. If you’re down at the bottom, here is Jesus your example. See how He lived and how He served His father. That is how you serve your boss.

What about if you’re in the middle? Most of us are in the middle somewhere. We’re neither in the top or the bottom. A lot of people are somewhere in the middle. If you’re in the middle be happy because you can serve those at the bottom and you can serve the ones at the top, for both Jesus is your example. You want to know how you serve others who are below you? Look at Jesus. Every page of the New Testament shows how to serve like Jesus. You want to serve those at the top? Look at the New Testament. Jesus shows how He served His boss, God the Father, do just like Him. That is why I believe this is a credible story. This is has been demonstrated by one, by God Himself who loved us and gave Himself for it. There can be no better story than this. And if you carry this story tomorrow to work, it will make a difference in your work. It will make a difference in everything that you do. And it will make a difference in this world. Amen.

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