Ephesians 6:5-9

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 10, 2006


An ambitious, young executive is working late at corporate headquarters one evening. As he comes out of his office about 8:00 PM he sees the Big Boss standing by the shredder in the hallway, a piece of paper in his hand. “Do you know how to work this thing?” the older man asks “My secretary’s gone home and I don’t know how to run it.” “Yes, sir,” says the young executive, who efficiently turns on the machine, takes the paper from the other man, and feeds it in. “Great,” says his boss, “I just need the one copy...”

Sometimes it seems that we spend our whole lives at work.  And sometimes we might mean well, but things don’t always turn out right at work.  Does my relationship with Jesus actually affect my life at work?

:5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;

bondservantsdoulos – a slave; A slave is a person who has to do what his master says. A slave is a person who has no rights. A slave is a person works all day and earns nothing. In other words, it’s just like work.

fear and trembling – Before you take this too far, keep in mind that Paul used the same phrase to describe how the Corinthians treated Paul’s friend Titus (2Cor. 7:15).  Perhaps this might better be called “respect”

sincerityhaplotes – (from haplous, “single”) simplicity, mental honesty

This is the quality that describes how we are to obey our bosses. Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t talk behind his/her back. Just do your job.

(1 Pet 2:18-25 NKJV) Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. {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.

Don’t just work hard for the nice boss.  Work hard for the jerk as well.

Peter says you don’t get any credit in heaven for putting up with a difficult boss when you’ve been the one goofing up. But you do get credit in heaven for doing the right thing and putting up with a jerk for a boss.

{21} For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

A few years ago there was this fad where Christians would wear these bracelets with the initials “WWJD”, standing for “What would Jesus do?” That phrase came from an old 19th century book called “In His Steps”, and was a novel about a town where the people were challenged by their pastor to always ask the question “What would Jesus do?” before making any decisions. In the novel, all sorts of things changed in that town as people began to seek to follow the Lord better.

That whole concept comes from this verse, that Jesus has set an example for us that we should follow in His steps.

And in the context, Peter is talking about how servants are supposed to act with their masters, how we are supposed to act at work.

Just what would Jesus do?

{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; {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. {25} For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

This is the example Peter lays out for us to follow when we are going through a difficult time with the boss at work.

1. Watch your mouth (vs. 22,23)
2. Put your situation in God’s hands (vs. 23)
3. Lay down your life for others, even sinners (vs. 24)
Jesus laid down His life for us.  He died to pay for our sins. 
When we learn self-sacrifice, it affects those around us.


David was a good example for us to follow. He didn’t have a great boss. Saul was jealous of David and kept throwing spears at David. Finally David had to escape for his life, and his boss still tried to chase him down and kill him. Once David was in a cave hiding and Saul ended up coming into the same cave to rest. David’s men egged him on to kill Saul while he had the chance, but all David could do was cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. His conscience wouldn’t let him kill Saul. He put his situation into God’s hands, and God took care of Saul.
Do you have a bad boss? Have you been tempted to take a corner off their robe? Have you been tempted to take it to the next level and lop their head off? Be careful of what comes out of your mouth around the other employees. Put the situation into God’s hands. And be willing to lay down your life for others.

:6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

eyeserviceophthalmodouleia (“eye” + “serve”) – service performed [only] under the boss’ eyes; people work hardest when the boss is watching.

A tip for getting ahead in life: Do what’s right, even when nobody seems to be watching.  I think that’s a mark of when you’ve really grown up.

men-pleasersanthropareskos (“man” + “to please”) – studying to please man

It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to catch the eye of your boss and make him glad he hired you.  But that’s the wrong motivation.

When our motivation is to please people, we can fall into some bad traps.

(John 12:42-43 NKJV) Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; {43} for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

These rulers weren’t willing to admit they believed in Jesus because they were more concerned about what people thought than what God thought.
Don’t do things just to kiss up to the boss.

heartpsuche – breath; the soul.  This is not the usual word for “heart” (kardia) which was used in verse 5.  This word is seat of the feelings, desires, affections

God’s desire is that we learn to do what the boss says, not just because our mind tells us, but it comes from a little deeper inside, from a conviction that it’s the right thing.

:7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

doing servicedouleuo – to be a slave; This word is related to the word “bondservants”, this is the verb form. In other words, “with goodwill be a slave as to the Lord…”


My real boss

Would you act the way you do, would you respond with the same complaints in your heart, if Jesus was the one asking you to do what your boss has asked?
We don’t obey because of the boss, but because of Jesus.
Howard Hendricks was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He did a lot of traveling and speaking and American Airlines made him kind of an “inspector”, a person who would write critiques about his flights, and give the reports to the managers. He told a story about one flight, where the stewardess did a wonderful job. Rough weather, crying babies, drunk businessmen, nothing stopped this gal from smiling and serving politely. At the end of the flight, he stopped to talk to her, to tell her that he was going to write some good things about her. She replied, “Well Mr. Hendricks, I don’t work for American Airlines.” Seeing he was puzzled, she continued, “I’m a Christian and I work for Jesus Christ.”

:8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.


God rewards faithfulness

There are going to be times when you struggle because you just wonder if it’s worthy it. You wonder if it’s really that big of a deal that you obey your boss. You wonder what good it will ever get you.
Working TOO Hard
Bosses of a publishing firm are trying to work out why no one noticed that one of their employees had been sitting dead at his desk for FIVE DAYS before anyone asked if he was feeling okay. George Turklebaum, 51, who had been employed as a proof-reader at a New York firm for 30 years, had a heart attack in the open-plan office he shared with 23 other workers.  He quietly passed away on Monday, but nobody noticed until Saturday morning when an office cleaner asked why he was still working during the weekend.  His boss Elliot Wachiaski said: “George was always the first guy in each morning and the last to leave at night, so no one found it unusual that he was in the same position all that time and didn’t say anything.  “He was always absorbed in his work and kept much to himself.”  post mortem examination revealed that he had been dead for five days after suffering a coronary. Ironically, George was proofreading manuscripts of medical textbooks when he died.  You may want to give your co-workers a nudge occasionally. And the moral of the story: Don’t work too hard. Nobody notices anyway???
Well somebody is watching you. He’s taking notes. He may not give you an annual review, but He will give you one at the end of your life.
There’s a story about an old missionary couple coming home from spending years in Africa.  They were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt who was returning from a successful big-game safari.  As the ship pulled into the harbor, the crowds were lining the docks to cheer on the President.  But nobody was waiting or cheering for the missionaries.
That night the man was so depressed that nobody seemed to care about how they had spent their life.  The man’s wife said, “Why don’t you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?” A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, “Dear, what happened?” “The Lord settled it with me,” he said. “I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ‘But you’re not home yet!’” -- Ray Stedman, Talking to My Father
I also believe God’s rewards aren’t all at the end of this life.
(Luke 16:10-12 NKJV) "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. {11} "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? {12} "And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?
I was eighteen years old when I sensed that God was calling me to be a pastor. From that time on, I began to pursue a course for my life that would lead me to being a pastor of a church. Initially, I started going the route of a Baptist, going through college and seminary, and then applying at churches and talking to denominational heads. But there came a day when Deb and I decided we weren’t cut out for that particular denomination, and we threw all of our experience and connections away and started going to Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.
I remember going to Costa Mesa and having Pastor Chuck suggest that I teach a Sunday School class. I had a hard time with that. For one thing, I thought teaching a Sunday School class was beneath me. For another thing, I was afraid that I’d get lost in the huge crowd and that nobody would notice what I was doing and it wouldn’t be worth it. I was thinking that Pastor Chuck wouldn’t see me, but I had forgotten that God would see me. We eventually left Costa Mesa and settled into a smaller church, Calvary Anaheim.
A few years later God used these verses from Luke to encourage me while we were at Anaheim. I again was wondering when my time would come, when I’d finally get to be a pastor. God reminded me that He saw me. He kept track of what I did. And He rewards faithfulness.
You may be wondering what good it is to do your job well. You may be thinking that you’re going to save yourself for that one big job you’ve always wanted. Don’t wait to do a good job. Be faithful now. God will see. God will take care of you.

:9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

the same things – What same things are the masters supposed to be doing?

Be serving God, not men.  Serve Jesus from the heart.

giving up threatening – Does this mean that a boss can’t do anything to punish a bad employee?

Paul says to “give up threatening”, not “give up punishing”.

It’s not wrong to punish an offense. It’s not wrong to fire a bad employee. Sometimes these are the very things that a person needs to wake up and get their life together.

Just stop the empty threats.

your own Master also is in heaven – When you as a boss lose the sense that you too will one day be accountable to God, you’re heading for trouble.



partiality –We might call it “playing favorites”.
James warns the church about playing favorites:
(James 2:1 NLT)  My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?
We can get to thinking that one person is more important than another. We might pay attention to the way people dress and treat people nicer if they look nice or smell nice.
Look at some of the Bible stories – who do you think God was most fond of?
The story of Daniel – At one point he became Nebuchadnezzar’s right hand man, when the Persians took over, he became Darius’ right hand man. But it wasn’t always that way. There was a day when Daniel was just another of the young captives hauled to Babylon from the tiny insignificant nation of Judah. It’s one thing to recognize greatness in a person who achieves a high position, but what about when they’re just some young kid who thinks he has the answers?
The story of Joseph – Yes, Joseph became the number two man in all of Egypt. But before that he was just the one of the inmates at the prison. And before that he was just a servant of Potiphar. Was Joseph any less valuable to God while he was just Potiphar’s servant? Of course not.
Be careful with how you handle your employees. What if you’ve got a Joseph or a Daniel working as a mail clerk or a janitor?
It’s not what you think of the person that counts, it’s what God thinks that counts. You will be judged by how you treated this person that God cares about.

I think that some of our best witnessing can be done at work.  Be the best employee.  Be the best boss.  And when people ask why you’re so good, tell them who you really work for.