- Sermon Notes
Working from a Spirit Filled Life
June 19, 2022
The book of Ephesians is a wonderful blueprint for those who want to live a Spirit filled life. We have seen in the first three chapters how Paul laid a foundation of who God is and what He has done for us, the glorious spiritual riches He has in store for us, and our identity in Christ. From chapter 4 he gives practical guidelines of what our lives should look like flowing from these blessings led by the Spirit.
We have seen that those who are leading a Spirit filled life do not live like the world, controlled by its carnal passions, but hunger for the beauty which God’s Spirit works in us.
Now, in chapter 6, he gives practical guidelines on what our work life should look like as Christians led by the Spirit of God. We will see that as we work from a Spirit filled life, it will change our attitude towards and reason for working.
But these also apply in other areas of life. Here are life lessons that are good for us to take hold of and apply to our lives.
I. Work as Unto the Lord
- Many people think the principle of work originated with the fall, but it is important to understand that work was part of the plan from the beginning of creation, albeit from a different perspective.
Genesis 2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
- Adam had the responsibility from the beginning to cultivate the garden. However, this was work done purposefully aligned with God’s will and in relationship with God. This was not done from survival mode, as they had freedom to eat from all the plentiful fruit on the trees.
- The moment man sinned, the focus and purpose changed.
Genesis 3:17-19, Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. And you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face, you will eat bread, till you return to the ground.
- Now the focus was not that work should be purpose driven, but it was driven by stress and hard work to survive.
- When we give our lives to Christ, we see from the context of this section in Ephesians that in Christ work is once again restored to having a greater purpose: that of glorifying Christ.
A. Be obedient as to Christ.
- These verses referred to servants and masters; some historians have said that almost half of the population of the Roman empire was actually slaves.
- Praise God that this practice is almost completely nonexistent around the world today. But the same principles can apply to employees and managers.
- Verse 5 – Slaves, be obedient to masters according to the flesh. A slave in that time was mostly someone who was forced to work, not doing what they wanted to, and not getting paid for it. This could be the perfect storm for unhappiness.
Illus. Can you imagine getting up before the crack of dawn, getting ready for work, having to clock in on time, for if you are late, you might get flogged. Even if you show up on time, your boss may be rude towards you, and you are not allowed to complain or refuse to do whatever you are told to. There are no human rights commission, no fair employment act, no labor court. On top of that you must have a good attitude, and you will not get paid for any work done. Ever.
- Yet Paul is telling them to have a different attitude concerning their circumstances. There are life lessons to learn from this. Firstly, I have met many people who are paid to do a job, and yet still grumble and work with the wrong attitude.
- When we understand that all work we are doing is as to Christ, it will change the perspective of how and why we work, knowing that whatever situation I am in now, I was placed in by Christ for a purpose and /or a season.
- Secondly, he highlighted the fact that their masters were only their masters according to the flesh. In other words, their masters had no power over their soul and the spirit. It belonged to Christ. As such, they had a choice how to react to their circumstances.
- With fear and trembling – this translates to the principle of having a reverence for those who are appointed over you. The Bible teaches us that all authority is appointed by God.
Romans 13:2, Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
- We might sometimes not understand why we find ourselves under certain authority, but we can find peace in the fact that God has a purpose and can use the situation for his glory.
Illus. One of my first jobs after school was as a clerk in an auditing firm. I was assigned to a junior associate I reported to. To say that he was living worldly would be putting it mildly. He openly confessed to being an atheist. Every sentence he spoke was constructed with cusswords. He had a foul mouth when speaking to women or about women. He drank like a fish and was a chain smoker. I sat with him in a little dark room without windows 9 hours a day.
Growing up in a God-fearing home where we loved Christ, I could not understand why God would lead me into this situation. I felt disconcerted, having to sit in this ‘hellhole’ with him, having to endure all this extreme worldly behavior day in and day out. So, I started praying about this situation.
After a while, God prompted my heart to start praying for him. Something changed; not with him, but in me. I started to see him the way God saw him: broken by circumstances, hurt by the past, angry and bitter. I saw my pride; in judging him without knowing his circumstances. I started to spend time with him, asking about his life, having sincere compassion, just trying to show God’s love, and caring with God’s heart.
Eventually, he would speak about his problems and even allow me to pray with him. Although he stayed rebellious, I saw something change deep inside of him. After that, our paths split and I don’t know if he ever found God, but I know that seed was planted. More than that, God allowed this experience to teach me many things and grow me in my spiritual walk and how I saw people.
- Verse 5 – …in sincerity of heart. Once again, the heart is the key. If the heart is transformed by the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit springs forth, especially in our work.
- Most people spend the biggest part of their waking hours at work. Even homemakers and mothers who most people don’t think ‘work’ spend a lot of time at ‘work’.
- It therefore stands to reason that this is the place where our heart needs to be aligned with the Spirit of God the most.
- It is also the place our hearts will be tested and eventually our character will shine through.
- We need the Spirit of God all the more to work His fruit in us and lead us at work.
B. Do the will of God
- If we align our lives with the will of God, it will once again bring us back into purpose.
- If we still see work as a pre-Christ requisite from the curse of Adam, it might be tempting to do work by the way of eyeservice or to be men pleasers.
- Verse 6 – Eyeservice means to work hard if the boss is watching, but as soon as he is out for the day or the afternoon everyone just slacks off.
- Others might work as men pleasers. Doing anything to please people to find my worth in their praise.
- If we understand that we are now “slaves” of Christ doing the will of God, it totally changes our perspective. A slave in this sense is a bondservant. A Bondservant is someone who has been set free, but who CHOOSES to keep on serving at his own free-will.
- Verse 7- As to the Lord and not to men. Work is once again redeemed to the way it was before the fall, where we work to benefit others and for the glory of God for His purpose.
- Verse 8 – knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord whether slave or free. This is such a powerful verse. This confirms that work is redeemed, and just as Adam had freedom to eat from the fruit but work for purpose, we now know that God is the source and supplies all we need. We work for his glory, whether we are paid for it or not.
- We must keep in mind that it is God who supplies the grace and the energy for us to be able to work.
1 Corinthians 15:10, But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
- Not even our success is from ourselves and our hard work. God puts the breath in our lungs, is in control of the next heartbeat, supplies the energy and capacity in every area to make it possible for us to work.
Illus. I once heard a story of a man who came to a pastor with some confusion. He said that he understands that the Bible says that God blesses him, and everything is by the grace of God, but that he worked very hard for his success and as such has some confusion on what to thank God for and what was because of his hard work…
- God even works in us the will to work for His glory and according to His purpose.
Philippians 2:13, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
- This changes our whole perspective. Now I do not say, “I work more than him but are paid less” or “that is not part of my job description”, but I work for the glory of God knowing that He rewards me and I will receive back from Him in due time.
Genesis 15:1, After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.”
Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- The word ‘reward’ in the Hebrew literally means salary. Rewarder means the one who pays wages. He is our salary and our great reward. He is our source. God might be using your current employer or situation to provide for you, but they are not your source.
Psalm 127:1-2, Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even while he sleeps.
- When one understands this, it changes how one works. Not to please people, not to be two-faced to try and get ahead, or for eyeservice, but to glorify God.
- Paul’s point is that Christians should be the best employees a manager has because their work reflects their faith. Because they are working as if for Christ, they should be honest, hard-working, have a great “work ethic,” they should be servant hearted to those around them and respectful to managers. In other words, they are great workers with great attitudes. That is highly valued.
Illus. Chuck Smith used to tell a story of Christian farmers in China…The world should see the difference.
II. Spirit Filled Overseer
- An interesting occurrence in the time that Paul wrote this letter, was that slaves and masters were both part of the same Christian community and church. This could mean that a slave had to be under the authority of his master during the workday, but the slave might be an elder in the church to whom the master would have to submit spiritually.
- Therefore, it was important for Paul to address the relationship between master and slave. We can also apply the same principles to managers, and employees today.
- These are also principles for leadership today.
A. Employers; be under the Lord
- Verse 9 – There is no partiality with God, Paul wrote, your master and theirs is in heaven. All authority was given by God, and as such the ‘master’ has a mandate from God but is also accountable to God on how they treat those God has entrusted to them.
- Give up threatening, Paul wrote. In other words, show respect to everyone, regardless of their position. Don’t look down on others simply because you have a position of authority; that’s the way the world works, but you are to be different. You’re in the kingdom of God now and different principles apply.
- Managers and employers have the ability to break down or build up. Are you creating a godly culture in your workplace? Many times, people think by instituting a devotional time at the beginning of the day it creates a godly culture. It is a great start if it is practical, but it is only a start. The culture of being like Jesus in the workplace comes through the example of the leader.
- Is there edification, or do you break down the staff? Is there grace and understanding, or is it only about the bottom line? Are you a leader your people look up to because they can sense that you genuinely care for them, or do they feel like a means to an end that can be disposed of as soon as the end has been met?
- I once read the results on a business study that has been done. It found that, while remuneration was a great motivator, it was not the best or primary motivator in the workplace. The best motivator was making people feel significant.
- Many employers treat their people just as a human resource. They have the viewpoint that they pay them to do their jobs, and that is all there is to it.
- If, though, one wants your people to be effective and motivated, willing to follow you into any battle, they must know they are significant and important.
- This is a Christian principle of leadership. Jesus made everyone feel significant because they were significant in His eyes. He saw people for their true worth and knew everyone had something important to bring to the table, even if it seemed ‘insignificant.’
- There’s a theme that runs through the last couple of chapters; if you are filled with the Spirit, you have an attitude of humility because you understand that we are all inter-connected and need each other in the body of Christ. The closer you are to God, the more you respect Him and that causes you to see others the way He sees them.
Matthew 9:36, Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited, like sheep without a shepherd.
- Jesus gave us the heart of ‘servant-leadership.’
Matthew 20:28, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
- Being filled with the Holy Spirit causes you to be different from the world.
Mark 10:42-44, “You know that those who are rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… But it is not this way among you, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the servant of all.”
Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
The way we work, whether manager or employee should be infused with the Spirit of God, working His fruit and principles in our heart, to also in this area be Jesus to the world.
We can pray, ‘God, make my life a holy praise unto you. Even if I do not understand this work you led me into, the season I am in, help me see what You see.’ God can turn it around, give us peace and joy in the circumstance, reveal purpose so we can work for His glory. This is a more beautiful way to live your life.
5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your [a]masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not [b]by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the [c]heart. 7 With good will [d]render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
9 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.