Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God. (Colossians 3:22, KJV)
Paul warns us in this passage to make sure we serve God and not just our employers in our vocations. When a man first gets a job he usually has a great desire to impress his boss. Of course, this is good. But Paul tells us this is insufficient. What are the dangers of “eyeservice” and “menpleasing?” (By the way, the ESV version says, “people pleasers.” That is lame.) Before we note the dangers let’s be clear on what Paul is saying. He is not saying we should aim to displease our “masters according to the flesh.” All employees should seek to honor their bosses. But Paul is saying that our ultimate allegiance is to God. Paul closes this verse by focusing on singleness of heart, which means a whole-hearted devotion to God. We are to fear God. We are to obey our masters, but our hearts are to be completely devoted to our Lord. What are the dangers of man’s approval being our ultimate goal instead of God’s? Continue reading
Recently I took my Suburban into the local auto shop. The owner was great. After I paid for the work, we sat and talked about old cars and the snow and sons. It was fun. He was in no hurry. My car has run great every time I have taken it to him. I am not sure how that gentleman views his work, but from my end he is a servant. He is not interested in making as much money as possible. He does not push you out the door. He is careful with vehicles and kind to his customers. He has a job to do and he does that job well. It got me thinking, why do we work? What is a job for? There are three common reasons why people get a job.
We Get a Job to Make Money
Probably the most common reason for going to work is to earn money. Why do you work hard in college? So you can get a degree. Why do you get a degree? So you can get a job. Why do you get a job? So you can make money. There is no greater idol in America than money. Naturally, it tops the list of why people work. They want to earn. Now of course, money is part of the reason we work. But if money is the engine that drives our work then we are greedy. If the goal of our work is a paycheck then it makes our work finally about us, not God or our neighbor.
We Get a Job for Self-Fulfillment
Another popular option for why we work is self-fulfillment. We work to fill some hole in our souls. Earlier generations did not think this way so much. But we do. We believe that if we find the perfect job we will come home each day with a deep sense of satisfaction. Again there is some truth here. We are all made in the image of God. God works. Therefore work makes us more human. Dignity is bestowed when we labor. A man who cannot work has lost a part of himself. But self-fulfillment should never be our primary goal in our work. When it is work becomes a way of getting what we need instead of serving others. Continue reading
Here is an interesting quote from Martin Luther’s little work Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved.
The very fact that the sword has been instituted by God to punish the evil, protect the good, and preserve the peace is powerful and sufficient proof that war and killing along with all the things that accompany wartime and martial law have been instituted by God. What else is war but the punishment of wrong and evil? [Quoted in Charles and Demy]
My guess is that Luther is not saying that all war and violence is okay. Nor is he saying that even in a just war, all actions taken by soldiers are automatically okay. But his basic point is one that needs to be repeated. If the sword and the magistrate are “instituted by God” and “God’s servant” [Romans 13:1, 4, I Peter 2:13-14] then they cannot be ungodly by definition. They can become ungodly through sin, but it is a legitimate vocation through which a Christian can honor God and serve his fellow man. Thus Christians can be soldiers, policeman, or any other profession similar to those.