Have you ever had an employee evaluation? In the evaluations I have been through the supervisor usually has different things that they grade you on and they normally can write something either good or bad about your over all performance. After that comes the meeting in which they describe your performance.
Tonight in this passage the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter gives us two tips for us as Christian employees and servants so we can be ready for our future evaluation which will happen at the judgment seat of Christ.
The two things we will learn that will help us to be commendable Christian employees are:
- Your work is commendable to God when you walk in His word.
- Your work is commendable to God when you walk like Christ.
First in verses 18-20 your work is commendable to God when you walk in His word.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.
Peter begins this passage by addressing servants. The word servant I’m told in Greek means household or domesticated servant. In the Roman culture slavery, specifically house servants was common. Paul, Peter and the other New Testament writers wrote to these believers in this cultural context not because they condoned this practice, but because they were concerned about how these pilgrims could most effectively represent Christ and preach the gospel.
Obviously the context is a little different for you and I as Americans employees. Nevertheless there still are some very important precepts we can learn that will make our work commendable to God. People in these verses give us three ways that we an walk in the word as employees.
The first way that we can walk in the word is to work joyfully and with excellence.
Paul in Colossians 3:22-24 says,
22Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.
23And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Whether a believer was a household servant or bondservant they were to recognize that God had allowed them to be in this circumstance for His glory. Wherever the Lord has placed us we are to work joyfully and with excellence.
The second thing that makes our work commendable to God is to be submissive to those who are in authority.
The word submissive means to rank under and to obey. Peter addresses our attitude and motive with which we are to submit, it is to be with all fear.
The fear that we are to have is for God. Since we reverence, honor and love God who has established authority and called me to my job I am to submit to my boss as unto the Lord.
In saying this, because we fear God and His word we can’t obey sinful orders that would cause us and others to sin. Apart from causes us and others to sin we are to submit in all circumstances.
Notice whether the boss himself is good or evil, or whether he or she is gentle or harsh. The character of the person does not determine whether or not we submit to them. Our submission is based on our love for God and our obedience to His word.
19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
Submission to your master or boss in the fear of God simply is commendable to God. The word commendable means favorable, or pleasing.
A third thing way that we can walk in the word is as we just saw submit to your boss even when they don’t deserve it.
Peter gives one example of something that was going on in the work place. Christian servants with harsh non believing masters were enduring grief because they were seeking to follow God and His word. These believers were suffering wrongfully, they did nothing to deserving punishment.
Just like King Saul in the Old Testament did to David their masters did not always treat them fairly and justly.
Have you ever been persecuted at work or treated differently because you were a Christian? Or for some other reason that was not wrong? It’s not a good feeling. Even after a great Sunday it is easy to get angry and revolt against that person in our hearts and actions.
Peter tells us in these verses while our natural reaction is to rebel and revolt yet because of our conscience before God and our witness of Him we are to submit.
Before we move on and look at Christ’s example we have an important public service reminder in verse 20. The reminder is you get no kudos for suffering patiently for something that you did wrong.
Modern examples would be; we can’t rejoice because we suffer at work or our management has it out for us because we come to work late because of a Holy Ghost hangover, or because we took an extended lunch break because of our Bible study, or because you are not doing your job but always standing around and talking to people.
Yes, we should preach the gospel at work but we also must make sure we are a good employee and get our job done.
If we are to be commendable Christian employees and have a good eval at the judgment seat of Christ then we must walk in the word as peter laid out.
Second in verses 21-25 we learn that your work is commendable to God when you walk like Christ.
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
Peter continuing the topic of suffering wrongfully and enduring it joyfully says that we were called to this. This verse is a good reminder that we should not be so quick to flee our job because of persecution or opposition. God has called us to be lights and that requires darkness. We are called to be salt and that often includes decay. We are solider and that often includes warfare.
Because God has called us to this, we can have the assurance that God will empower us and give us peace to remain and glorify Him. As we all know God’s calling comes with His enabling.
Not only is the believer enabled by the Holy Spirit to endure this treatment, but we are given an example to look to, to show us how we are to walk and serve. Our example is no other than the Messiah Jesus the God man.
We are to follow in His foot steps. Just think about that phrase for a moment, “That you should follow in His steps.” This is a good mandate for life, I am to walk like Jesus.
If I am to walk like Jesus then I might have to endure suffering at work to walk in the will of God and to do the work of God.
First I might have to walk in Christ steps and suffer to walk in the will of God.
22 “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
The specific example that Jesus left us was the fact that even though He committed no sin, nor did He speak a lie or anything false, yet He was reviled and suffered. This is illustrated in the gospels at the trials and suffering of Jesus.
While Christ did noting wrong yet He was willing to submit Himself submit to the evil to authorities because as the end of verse 23 says He committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. Jesus placed the will of God above His temporary please because He knew that it was for His good and God’s glory.
The second in walking in the steps of Christ I might have to suffer patiently to represent God to others.
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
Not only did Christ submit during suffering because He recognized the authority of God, but He also realized that there was greater and more important purpose behind His present personal injustice and suffering.
Peter explains that greater and important by describing our great salvation that was paid for in full at the cross at Calvary. Notice how Peter explains Christ’s work of redemption and the blessed state of the believer in Jesus.
Jesus Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree. The tree is a way that Peter refers to the wooden cross of God. In the Old testament a Jew was stoned for their sin, in some circumstances they were stoned and then hung on a tree to show the consequences of their sin.
Jesus was placed on the cross and took the sin of the world. Jesus died for the curse of the law and in so doing died as man’s sacrifice and substitute for sin.
Since Christ paid the price for sin all who come to Christ die to sin and become alive to righteousness. Thorough our faith in Jesus death and resurrection the believer is given the imputed righteousness of Christ and given the indwelling Holy Spirit to walk in righteousness like Christ. All this came about through Jesus’ suffering, by His suffering we were healed of our sins and made alive to God.
25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
As a result of our faith in Christ we are now like sheep who have returned to their Shepherd and the Overseer of our souls. Without Christ people might feel free but they are really foolish lost sheep being stocked by Satan who is a roaring lion.
Only by returning to the Good Shepherd can a person have direction in life, only by obeying the overseer of our souls can we truly be confident that we are where we are supposed to be.
Peter says all this about our great salvation I believe to give us a reminder that if Christ would have act in the flesh which He could not have all this would not have been possible. Our lives were changed because Jesus choose to suffer patiently.
How about you and I? Will be follow Jesus example or demand our rights. Just remember God has you in this circumstance as such a time as this. Glorify your great salvation in front of them so their lives will be changed.
In closing we all have an employee evaluation coming at the reward seat of Christ. Let’s heed Peter tips as Christians employees so we can be commendable before God and hear those words from Jesus, “Well done good and faithful servant.”