Document 196948

How To Cope When You're Not The Boss
Colossians 3:22-4:1
By his famous Proclamation of Emancipation Abraham
Lincoln set the stage for the elimination of a great evil -- the evil of
slavery in the United States. He declared the slaves of the
Confederate states "forever free." His action was not popular with
either his friends or his enemies. He was criticized on one side for
not going far enough and on the other side for going too far.
Nevertheless his declaration stands as a great advance in American
It took three more years and a constitutional amendment to
make it official. In 1865 the 13 th amendment was ratified:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a
punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been
duly convicted, shall exist in the United States, or any place
subject to their jurisdiction."
It was another 5 years before our black brothers and sisters
were granted the privilege of voting.
A hundred and forty years later the problems of man's
inhumanity to man is still a prominent problem both in the United
States and around the world. The Chinese laborers that make many
of the clothes we wear are paid a scant 40 cents an hour. It's little
wonder that we are shocked at the poor workmanship we find. The
outrage of slavery and the prevalence of sweatshops in world today
should be condemned by all of us. Yet as long as they exist there
will continue to be a need for Christian counsel on how to cope
and how to relate to those over us in authority.
Paul's purpose was not to crusade against the immorality of
slavery in the Roman Empire. A prisoner in a Roman prison cell
could hardly start a revolutionary movement against his captors.
His theme is not the abolition of slavery. He leaves that task for
future generations to correct. However the seeds of abolition that
would eventually take root and grow in America were planted
firmly in Paul's epistles—especially passages like this one and in
his epistle to Philemon. Paul's theme here, however, is not
liberation. His theme is how to live a Spirit filled life in a fallen
world. Instead of addressing the evils of the world in general, he
zeroes in on the behavior of professing Christians regardless of
their status in life. He teaches Christians how to behave in
conditions that are less than satisfactory. The truth of the equality
of all people before God abounds in his epistles.
But Paul deals with real people in a real world. Many
Christians today live in conditions that are less than favorable.
Paul's primary emphasis in this passage is that we are all servants
and we all have a Master. Both Christian slaves and Christian
slave-owners serve the same Master. Paul makes that crystal clear
in the first verse of chapter 4 " also have a Master in
This passage applies to all of us who are either in authority
or under authority. Many pastors apply this passage to employee
and employer relationships. I believe the application is far wider
than that. The Greek word translated "bondservants" can, and
sometimes does, mean "slaves." I am convinced that is the
primary meaning of the word here. But the emphasis is not on the
captivity of slavery or the bondage of slavery. There are other,
more appropriate, Greek words to define these aspects of slavery.
This Greek word (doulos) emphasizes the submission and
service of a slave. It is this word that Paul uses in Philippians 1:1
to describe himself and Timothy as the "bondservants of Jesus
Christ." A bondservant is one who voluntarily chooses to continue
in the service of his master after he is free to go.
In Deuteronomy 15:12-17 God gives us the basic concept
of a bondservant:
"If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is
sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh
year you shall let him go free from you. And when you
send him away free from you, you shall not let him go
away empty-handed; you shall supply him liberally from
your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your
winepress. From what the LORD has blessed you with,
you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a
slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God
redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.
And if it happens that he says to you, 'I will not go away
from you,' because he loves you and your house, since he
prospers with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it
through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant
He is now a servant by choice. Every Christian is in that
sense a bondservant of Jesus Christ. He has purchased us and set
us free. And in our freedom we have chosen to love and serve Him
with all our hearts and souls. Therefore we are "bondservants." We
have been purchased and set free. Christ died for our sins. We have
consciously chosen to serve Him forever.
From that standpoint we can see a practical application to
our lives. As bondservants we serve our Lord in the home. As
bondservants we serve the Lord in the church. As bondservants we
serve Him in the community. As bondservants we serve Him on
the job and on the campus. So this becomes very practical for all of
us. God has established a definite role for each of us in the home,
in the church, in the school, and in the community. We have to
learn how to live within that structure. It's obvious that we can't
always be the bosses, but we can all be servants.
Paul tells us how to cope when we're not the boss. That's
the subject of the last four verses in Colossians 3.
"Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according
to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in
sincerity of heart, fearing God. 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. But he who does wrong will
be repaid for what he has done, and there is no
The first point in your outline is:
1A. How To Cope When You're Not The Boss.
1B. The first coping mechanism is to do your work as a Service
to GOD.
Verse 22, "Bondservants, obey in all things your
masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as
men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God."
1C. It must be SINCERE Service.
1D. It's more than "eye-service."
Eye-service is a performance. It's doing
your job for the sole purpose of impressing
others. In this case it would be your boss or your
immediate supervisor. Too many people live
their lives just to hear the roar of approval from
the crowd. That's eye-service.
The common movie about slavery
leaves you with the impression that the only goal
a slave had was to keep from getting flayed with
a cat of nine tails. I'm sure that was the goal for
many. "The Master's looking. Look busy!" That
was mere eye-service.
1E. Sincere service is service without
Pretension is a false show for
the wrong reason. It's playacting. It is
living in a make-believe world. It is
hypocrisy. You remember what Jesus
had to say to hypocrites about their
hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is sheer eyeservice.
2E. Our service is to be without
Ostentation is a showy display.
If your goal is to show off your
n , or
laadadge, to showcase yourtale15
to parade your super-spirituality you are
being ostentatious. These goals are bigtime losers in the mind of Christ and in
His work. It is eye-service.
Sincere service is much more
than mere eye-service.
2D. Sincere service is more than being "menpleasers".
"Bondservants, obey in all things your
masters according to the flesh, not with
eyeservice, as men pleasers, but in sincerity of
On the surface this thought seems to
contradict the admonition of Romans 15:1-3.
"We then who are strong ought to
bear with the scruples of the weak,
and not to please ourselves. Let each
of us please his neighbor for his
good, leading to edification. For
even Christ did not please Himself;
but as it is written, "The reproaches
of those who reproached You fell on
There is a world of difference
between pleasing your neighbor for his
benefit and buttering up your boss to gain a
better position or to get a raise in pay.
Pleasing others for their benefit, and
especially for their salvation is a good thing.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:13, "if food
makes my brother stumble, I will never
again eat meat, lest I make my brother
stumble." That's a very positive attitude. It
is pleasing others for their benefit.
Had he said, "I don't care what it
does to my Christian brother, I'm not giving
up my steak dinners for anybody!" That's a
whole different attitude. It is a very negative
Putting on an ostentatious show
before the boss just to get him off my back
or get a better position is a negative attitude.
Doing your best work because it pleases
God and hopefully satisfies your employer is
a very positive attitude.
Jesus' attitude toward this is evident
in His evaluation of the Scribes and
PhariseesSI Matthew 23. He says, ""The
scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.
Therefore whatever they tell you to observe,
that observe and do, but do not do according
to their works; for they say, and do not do.
For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear,
and lay them on men's shoulders; but they
themselves will not move them with one of
their fingers. But all their works they do to
be seen by men."
Eyewash is never an acceptable
motive for serving the Lord. Eyewash is
something that is done only to impress an
observer. Don't let that be your motive for
serving the Lord Jesus Christ. It is what you
are in the dark, when no one is looking, that
counts. What you do when you are
unsupervised weighs big in God's sight.
That's just between you and Him. Our
service to God must be sincere.
2C. It must also be our SPIRITUAL Service.
1D. It is wholehearted service.
1E. Wholehearted service springs from
the SINCERITY of the heart. Everything we said in the previous section
applies here. Sincerity is at the very
heart of wholehearted spiritual worship.
2E. SIMPLICITY of heart is the
second ingredient of wholehearted
service. Simplicity means we are honest,
faithful, and single-minded. We have
only one aim, one goal, and one
purpose. What is that purpose?
The Westminster Catechism
states, "The chief end of man is to
glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."
You can't state it any simpler than that.
That's what we are all about, isn't it?
Simple, straightforward, sincere, and
single-minded service is our goal.
To introduce duplicity is to
bring hypocritical scheming and doubledealing deception. God wants no part of
that in our service. We are to be
straightforward, honest, and full of
integrity. That brings us to the third
definition of wholehearted.
3E. It means INTEGRITY of heart.
Integrity is the state of being
complete and whole. It is being morally
honest and spiritually sound,. That's a
very rare commodity in our world today.
It is hard to find men and women of real
But Paul says that is one of the
major qualities that should separate the
Christian servant from the non-Christian
servant. That's how you cope when
you're not the boss—through wholehearted spiritual service. That comes
from our second definition of spiritual
2D. It is worshipful service.
We see that in the words of verse 22,
"fearing God."
Webster gives as a second meaning for
the word "fear" "respectful dread, awe,
reverence." That's how it is used here. Paul's
statement in 2 Corinthians 5:11 is a good
illustration. In light of the fact that we must all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ to
receive the appropriate recompense for what we
have done in this life he says, "Knowing...the
terror of the Lord, we persuade men."
We must always keep that in mind. God
is our ultimate Master. He is our final judge. The
bottom-line on how, why, and what we do by
way of service will be revealed at God's throne
of judgment. He reminds us in verse 12 that He
will judge us not on the outward appearance of
our service, but on our heart attitude. That's a
very sobering thought. That is a compelling
reason to serve Him wholeheartedly through
worshipful service. That's how we cope when
we're not the bosses. God is the ultimate
beneficiary of our service. He always looks at
our heart not our outward appearance.
2B. So we need to see The Lord is our SUPERVISOR.
Verse 23, "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to
the Lord and not to men..."
I appreciate the comment of Lloyd Olgilvie. He
says, "We need to ask, 'why am I doing what I do?'
The fact is that we were never meant to find
meaning in our work but bring meaning to our
work. When Christ is our meaning we can work
creatively to praise Him. When our work becomes
too important we make it a false god. That can be
true whether we work on an assembly line or in the
pulpit. Some of us have confused our self-worth
with overwork."
We tend to justify ourselves by how we
perform. I firmly believe that God blesses me on the
basis of my heart and not on my ability. I'm
thankful that He is ultimately my Supervisor. I can
safely do the things He tells me to do and leave the
results to Him. That's how we cope when we're not
the boss.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee has a great way of
bringing things into focus. He says, "Maybe you're
not going to have to report to your boss; or when his
back is turned he doesn't see that you are loafing on
the job, that you're not really giving him a full
day's work. But the Lord Jesus sees all, and you are
going to answer to Him. Therefore you have to give
a good account of your life to Him."
2C. See The Lord is your PAYMASTER.
In verses 24-25 we read, "knowing that from the
Lord you will receive the reward of the
inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he
who does wrong will be repaid for what he has
done, and there is no partiality."
When I was a child we used to sing "Brighten the corner
where you are." That's a good strategy for evangelism. Why did
God put you here? Why were you so blessed? Why were you
born a freeman or free-woman in the most prosperous nation on
earth in the most prosperous time in the history of the world?
Was it because you were so much better than the Arabs,
the Asians, the Africans, and whoever else is out there? No, I
don't believe so. Were you too good to live in the streets with
poverty stricken Indians? No, I don't believe that! Not at all!
Why have Americans been so blessed with such a wonderful
land of opportunity? We just take it for granted. That's the way it
is. We have the habit of looking up instead of down. Why
weren't we born in one of those majestic palaces in Beverly
Hills? I think the answer is in that little song, "Brighten the
corner where you are."
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:20,
"Let each one remain in the same calling in which
he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do
not be concerned about it; but if you can be made
free, rather use it."
Does that mean we shouldn't try to better our
situation? No! Absolutely not! Paul says if you can better your
self, do it! "If you can be made free...use it." If not, brighten the
corner where you are.
"For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is
the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called
while free is Christ's slave. You were bought at a
price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let
each one remain with God in that state in which
he was called."
A slave in Christ is far better off than his master
who is outside of Christ. A slave who is in Christ is free. A
master who is outside of Christ is in the most horrible form
of bondage. Don't even think about changing places with
him. "Brighten the corner where you are!" Christ has called
you. Rejoice in that and serve Him where you are.
Your treasure is laid up for you in heaven. Notice
verse 24, "knowing that from the Lord you will receive the
reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ."
Listen to Peter's commentary on this subject.
Beginning with 1 Peter 1:3 we read:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has
begotten us again to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an
inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that
does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
who are kept by the power of God through faith
for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little
while, if need be, you have been grieved by various
trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being
much more precious than gold that perishes,
though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise,
honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
whom having not seen you love. Though now you
do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy
inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of
your faith -- the salvation of your souls. Of this
salvation the prophets have inquired and searched
carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would
come to you, searching what, or what manner of
time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was
indicating when He testified beforehand the
sufferings of Christ and ihe glories that would
These glorious promises have sustained God's
perst,c ,k0))- people through hard times, through slavery, poverty, war,
fibmumbAirand every hopeless condition of history. As we read in 1
Corinthians 2:9-10:
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have
entered into the heart of man The things which
God has prepared for those who love Him. But
God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep
things of God."
That's how you cope when you aren't the boss. You
know and serve a greater boss—the Lord Jesus Christ. Our
second question is...
2A. How do you cope when you are the boss?
I'll give you the short answer to this one. We see it in
Colossians 4:1, "Masters, give your bondservants what is
just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in
1B. Be just and FAIR to those under you.
The word "fair" is very interesting. Do you remember
what an isosceles triangle is? It comes from two Greek words.
The first word is "isos" meaning "equal". The second word is
"celes", the Greek word for legs. So an isosceles triangle is a
triangle with two equal legs. Paul uses the word "isos" meaning
"equal" to put across the point of fairness. You can easily see the
great ramifications of that. He is telling slave owners to treat
their slaves with equality. They are equal in value before the
Lord. They are brothers and sisters in Christ. And they are to be
treated with equal dignity. America needs to hear that message
again today. We need to treat those who are less fortunate than
we are with equal fairness and dignity just because it is the right
thing to do.
2B. Then Paul reminds the slave owners to be aware of their own
He reminds them that we are all slaves of the Master
who lives in heaven. On this level we are all equals: slaves and
masters, bond or free, rich or poor, we all have a Master in
heaven. That puts us all on a level playing field, doesn't it?
So how do I cope if I'm not the boss? I remind myself
that I am God's servant. I do my work as a service to God. I do it
with sincerity as my spiritual service to God. I see the Lord as
my immediate supervisor and my paymaster.
And how do I cope if I am the boss. I treat those under
my watchcare justly and fairly as my equals before God and
man. I remind myself that I, too, am a man who must one day
answer to God to whom I am ultimately accountable.
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How To Cope When You're Not The Boss
Colossians 3:22-4:1
1A. How to cope when you're not the boss, 3:22-25
1B. Do your work as a Service to GOD, 22
1C. SINCERE Service
1D. More than "eye-service"
1E. Without pretension
2E. Without ostentation
2D. More than "men-pleasers"
1D. Wholehearted service
1E. SINCERITY of heart
2E. SIMPLICITY of heart
3E. INTEGRITY of heart
2D. Worshipful service "fearing God"
2B. See The Lord is your SUPERVISOR, 23
2C. See The Lord is your PAYMASTER, 24-25
2A. How to cope when you are the boss, 4:1
1B. Be just and FAIR
2B. Be aware of your ACCOUNTABILITY