“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”
Paul now talks about relationships at work: employees to bosses, and bosses to employees. His instruction is that whether you are a boss or an employee you serve Christ first, and that your work ethic and response to your boss or employees or co-workers is a reflection of your walk with Christ.
The core message here is that though we have an earthly boss, the reality is that we work for the Audience of One. Even if we are the boss, we work for the Audience of One. The work we do is ultimately for God. The Lord sees the work we do, and he cares about the work we do.
Therefore we are to work diligently in all things, including menial tasks. As a result of the Fall, there are many aspects of work that are drudgery, and there is no avoiding it. Floors have to be cleaned, diapers changed, drains cleared, and trash collected. But it is important to understand that this is part of our mission.
“Drudgery done for ourselves or for other human audiences will always be drudgery,” writes Os Guinness. “But work done for the Audience of One—even drudgery work—is lifted and changed.”
Work is important to God. Work is a daily reality and necessity. We spend more waking hours working than any other activity. This is not a mistake, as scripture teaches us that work is an integral part of God’s plan for us.
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh you shall rest.” (Ex.34.21)
“The desire of the sluggard kills him for his hands refuse labor.” (Prov.21.25)
“If anyone will not work, let him not eat.” (2 Thes.3.10)
“Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men.” (Col.3.23)
So for Christians, whether you are boss or employee, you work for the Audience of One. The way you do your job should reflect the reality of the love and lordship of Christ in your life.
Martin Luther said it well:
“The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays — not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps, but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”