18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect.[k] Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered[l] for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
22 He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.[m]
23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
24 He personally carried our sins
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls.
We had such a wonderful time discussing this recently in my small group. It was used in correlation to the verses in Colossians 3:22-25. I have to admit, I kind of got hit alongside the head with the proverbial 2×4 as I thought about those verses in relation to my job. It really made me question my attitude at work. Why do I behave certain ways at work? Quite frankly, my answer was to get along with people and not burn bridges. THAT was my reason for “doing good”! Plus, of course, the more you do the better your review—who doesn’t want that affirmation they are doing a good job. It totally fills my significance bucket! Not once did I think of doing right because it is what we are called to do. Not once did I think of it in light of finding that significance from working for God—especially in a secular place of business. My thoughts were purely selfish and all about me!
There is a verse in Colossians that isn’t included in today’s reading but has the same theme:
Colossians 3:23–Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
One of the ladies in my group stated, “We should work as if Jesus is sitting with us. Because He is!” Wow! Truth spoken in love!
The above verses tell us to do good, even if it means suffering. You mean if my coworker gets that promotion that I think should have gone to me? Yes. You mean if I work for a boss who curses constantly, is always yelling, and will cut you down with his words? Yes. You mean if I have a coworker who takes personal calls all day, is out on the internet looking at Pinterest, and you have to pick up their slack? Yes. Those examples are just ones I thought up as an example. But, what about the time I was called into my boss’s office for my annual review and told I wasn’t getting a raise this year because it is perceived I add no value to the company? Yes, even then! I have to admit I had a big “fail” on that one because it totally changed my attitude about the place I worked. Those 10 minutes in his office undermined an entire career spent pouring my heart into that company. Where I was once a pitch-in, help others, we’re all on one team kind of person, I developed a bad attitude. I let what he said define me even though I knew in my heart the contribution I had made to that company. Instead of trusting God, and believing I am who He says I am, I spent two years in misery. I am sure many would tell me I was justified to feel the way I did, but if I am going to follow Jesus’ example, that is not how to handle it. You see, “He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” What would have been right would have been to continue working the same way I had always worked—with a smile on my face, pitching in to help others, and trying to find ways to make work fun for others. I really had to repent to God over my actions.
One thing about God, I’ve found, is He will give you a second chance to take that test you fail the first time. As an example, after being unemployed for over a year due to the company being closed down, I was finally hired by a new company. I worked beside a lady with the most unfriendly attitude. The boss I had was unapproachable. No one talked to me for almost a year. Yet, every day I came in I said, “good morning” as cheerfully as I could and when I left I said “have a good evening” or “have a good weekend” whichever was appropriate. I got a card for the one lady when her beloved dog died. I picked up work for her when her brother was sick and she had to take off work. I kept reminding myself that God was my ultimate boss and I was there to work for Him! I wanted to quit and find another job so much during that time. But I really felt God had placed me there so I decided to stick it out until He said it was time to find another job. Over that time I managed to develop a rapport with the two people I worked with. At the end of the first year I was there, the company reorganized and I was moved to a different department with a different boss. Because of the training I had in one department, I was the perfect fit for the new department. I have friends now and people to socialize with. I had to patiently endure a little suffering trusting that God is sovereign.
And yet, I still have so much I need to pray about for change in this area! I still grumble and complain when I think things are unfair in regards to work situations or they change some policy that seems ridiculous to me instead of heeding the verses prior to the ones I quoted that say: 13 For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. I have been put in this place to be the representative of Christ. I so want that to be my reason for doing things!
Thank you, Father, that you give us a new day to start over, a new day to look to Jesus as our example in everything we say and do. You are quick to correct us in love when we need it. We are so grateful to you for showing us a better way to live when we look to You. In Jesus precious name, Amen