Tossing Out the Employee Handbook: God's Standard for Leaders and Employers

Colossians: CSI: Asia Minor (Volume II)

As employees and employers, we should view all man-given law as inferior to God's law of love. The way we work and the way we lead ought to astonish the watching world and provide us with opportunities to tell others about the servant King we follow.

Todd WagnerMar 6, 2005Colossians 3:22-4:1; Colossians 3:1; Colossians 3:22-25; Romans 13:1-3; Luke 12:2-3; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Leviticus 19:13-14; Colossians 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Peter 4:12-15; Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 2:20-23

In This Series (7)
Ten to Remember Just When You Thought There was Nothing Left that Mattered
Todd WagnerMay 22, 2005
The Transformed Tongue and How to Maintain It
Todd WagnerMar 19, 2005
Tossing Out the Employee Handbook: God's Standard for Leaders and Employers
Todd WagnerMar 6, 2005
Parenting's Dirty Dozen: How to Exasperate Your Child
Todd WagnerFeb 27, 2005
Marriage and the 'S' Word: How Knowing Jesus Changes Everything
Todd WagnerFeb 20, 2005
How the Head Affects the Body: Demonstrating the Faith We Declare
Todd WagnerFeb 13, 2005
Moving From Reasonable Faith to Necessary Response
Todd WagnerFeb 6, 2005

In This Series (7)

Father, we want to be like Christ. He loved Jew, Gentile, and Samaritan alike. We're not going to apologize that folks respond to who we are, but help us to be sensitive to those who are around us. We have neighbors here who don't like exactly what we like and who listen to different music, eat different foods, or dress different ways.

I pray that we would love them and we would prioritize our lives in such a way that we would make sure we don't say, "As long as you want to do what we want to do and like what we want to like, we'll love you." May we never be those kinds of people. That goes for those of us who like certain kinds of music even here within a certain race. I pray we wouldn't ever define ourselves by our music or by our dress or by our likes or dislikes and instead that we would define ourselves by our love for Christ and, therefore, our love for others.

As we look at this application section of the book of Colossians, I pray that, Lord, you would change our hearts to be more like Christ in every manner so that as we lift up King Jesus, folks who are far from God would come to him or folks who are different than us would gather with us as we celebrate him. We don't need anything else, Lord, but to be faithful before you.

Help us to love well and to break out of our exclusivity and our narrowness and be aware of those who are around us. Help us love those in every socioeconomic status, every heritage, and with every hurt. Make us like Christ, because that's what he would do. Amen.

We are working our way through a little book called Colossians. It's a book written to a bunch of folks who lived in what is now modern-day Turkey who were pursuing this King Jesus. They had come to understand that God had given his final and full revelation. They didn't need to have anything but what God provided through the person of Jesus Christ.

As he had been communicated by his servant Paul to a group of folks in Ephesus, there were some folks in Colossae who heard about it and went back home. Epaphras was his name. He told his friends, "You're not going to believe what I've just found out." There is one God, and he has revealed himself through this one man, Jesus Christ. We know that he was God. Not because he said he was but because his deeds backed up what he claimed, his walk backed up his words, and his witness was confirmed by the things that he did.

Among other things, he was raised from the dead. That has never happened before, that somebody said, "If they want, they can take me, and they can kill me and crucify me and call me a liar and a blasphemer who attributes to God something that is not true of him. If I say 'I and the Father are one,'" as Jesus did, "and you don't believe that God and I are the same thing, then you ought to kill me."

Even as they lead him to that cross, Jesus said, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing, or they wouldn't do it. Lord, you know what you're doing. You're letting the unblemished Lamb of God be sacrificed to pay a debt he did not owe so that those you love might have a price paid for them that they could never pay for themselves."

The wonders and mercies of God, this Jesus, the God who created us has come and lived and made himself known. He has come to deal with our sin and to call us out of darkness into light. So we don't need the best thinking of men to tell us about where we've come from or where we're going. We don't need legalistic behavior to make us appear righteous. We don't need to beat our flesh to show how pious we are. We don't need to go through a bunch of dead rituals. We need to embrace the provision of God and the person of Jesus Christ and let nothing shake us off of that.

That being the case, Paul says, "It's great that you guys have understood that, but we have to now get to the gravy of what happens when you come underneath a new head. You have a new way of thinking. You have a new leader. So let yourself be led by that new head. Your body ought to look different if it now has a new central processing unit. If, in fact, he is your King, then you look like you are his citizen." That's what it says in Colossians 3:1.

If then, you have been raised up with Christ…if you believe that God has positionally placed you already in the heavenlies, that he has accepted you and sees you as holy and blameless in his sight because you are covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ…then you keep seeking the things where you are: the things of God and the things of heaven.

Let the kingdom of God come on earth as it is in heaven because he is your King. As his citizen of his kingdom, you ought to live that way. So don't set your mind on the standards of the earth. Don't you think about how the earth says that you should be successful, about how you should relate to each other, or about how you should marry and raise kids and employ others. No. You live as God would have you live. God is not going have you try and figure that out, but he has pulled back the veil and revealed to you what wisdom, skilled living, and Godly living looks like.

Paul's point is if you have the doctrine right, then what you're doing ought to be different. If you believe this about who Jesus was, then you ought to behave differently. If this is the word of God, then this is the way you walk with God.

We've seen now, these last weeks that it ought to change the way we treat each other as single folks, the way we possess ourselves in purity and honor, the way that we date and relate, and that we have to clothe ourselves with humility, compassion, forbearance, and love and take off those old clothes of anger and malice and wrath and self-protection and self-advancement.

Your marriages ought to be different because you have a new Master, and your new morality ought to affect your marriages. They ought to be very different. They ought to be the way God intended them to be. The way that you mother and the way that you father ought to be different. The way that you are a master over others or employ people ought to be different. There is no aspect of your life that shouldn't be radically changed if it is true that you have come into a relationship with God through Christ.

We are now at the place where Paul is going to introduce us to not just how the home life is different, how individually and in society you relate differently, or how corporately you as a body relate differently, but how in the world that you work in things ought to be different. If you are the master, if you are the employer, it should be different if you know Christ. If you are the slave or if you are the employee, it ought to be different if you know Christ.

That's where we are, in verse 22. Check this out. You're going to find something here that is incredibly relevant for you. Slaves. That's right, slaves. Paul is addressing slaves. Why doesn't Paul say, "Before I go any further here, let me just say there should be no slaves. Slavery is an abomination to God. Thou shall not own a slave"? Why doesn't the New Testament, and why doesn't the Old Testament, come right out and prohibit the institution of slavery? I'm going to answer that for you.

Duolos is the word. Sometimes in some of your translations, it will be milked down to bondservant, maid, or manservant, but it is the word slave. "Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth…" Now watch was Paul is going to say, "…not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart [singularly focused on one thing] , fearing the Lord."

"I don't want you to do this anymore because you have to do it or because it's required from you because you are in some vassal state or some superior over you has oppressed you into bondage. Don't do it because of that. You do it because it's right." "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance." You do it because God is in heaven and he sees men when they do what is right, not what was required and he will repay you.

"It is the Lord Christ whom you serve [not your master] . For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done…" Don't you worry that I have missed what your master is doing if he's an abusive master or if your employee is exploiting you and heavy-handed. Don't you think for a second that's gotten by me, and don't you think for a second that just because you get away with something without your employee or your master knowing, it means you got away with it. "You be faithful, because I see all things."

"Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven." Let me show you the genius of Paul and let me answer specifically the question of why the Bible does not just come right out and say, "Thou shall not have a slave."

First of all, in our economy today, there are individuals who work for "the man." They're called employees. And there are always those who employ others. Individuals in certain positions and privilege who have the ability to create a structure through which others may, in their service, be provided for in a way that their family may have food, shelter, and clothing.

In our society today, we have not done away with classes. We have not said there is no management and no labor force. Of course not. That is ridiculous. There are always going to be bosses and folks who serve for those bosses. Specifically, in Paul's day, there were as many as 60 million slaves.

When we think of slaves, we are rightly a victim of our culture and our nation's history. We look back, and we think about those who have been wrongly kidnapped and stolen from their land by a more aggressive, armed group of people who ticked them, netted them, treated them as livestock, couriered them over on boats, and then sold them as property. That is our only vision of slavery.

The Bible addresses the whole issue about how you ought to treat other humans. It doesn't come right out and say, just as Paul didn't say in his day in age when there were 60 million slaves... In fact, slaves made up as much 50 percent of the Roman population. It was forbidden by Roman law to attire all your slaves in the same kinds of clothes. Certainly, within the community, there was not ever to be an alliance of owners who said, "Let's make sure that everyone knows out there in public who my slaves are and make all of our slaves dress the same way."

They were concerned that those slaves would start walking around the city and go, "There seem to be more folks dressed like me than like them. What are we doing taking orders from them?" They were concerned there would be a revolt. There had been a number of slave revolts throughout history.

The most recent of Paul's time was led by a guy named Spartacus. It was always oppressed. The headship of those different revolts was extinguished, and folks were brought back to a place where the economy continued to operate as it had. What Jesus reveals, what God reveals in the Old Testament, and what Paul reveals in the New Testament is simply this.

"Don't concern yourself or don't bring about persecution and warring because you live as a rebel to a master. You suffer, not because you are a runaway slave. You suffer because you do right by your Master, Jesus Christ." There was already enough radicalness within this new faith, that it made Rome very, very wary of it. This new faith said, "Don't worship local deities (national deities)." It was considered treason in Rome that there was one God, and he wasn't Caesar. He was Jesus Christ. "He's my King, and I will bow to no other."

It was already radical that within this society of Christ followers, people who were in positions of social superiority were not to exploit their position of social superiority but become servants of others. To come right out and say, "All of society is needing to change at this moment," the hearts of the people were not giving to change, and the masses were not in such a place as they could influence the way society operated.

So he said, "Don't try to change society through war or even through law. You change society by taking them captive to the King who will lead them in living in such a way, that the institution of abuse that is American slavery is made absolutely impossible." Let me just give you a quick analogy, and then I'll walk you through this a little bit more specifically.

As Watermark grew with a staff, it became the right time for us to put together an employee notebook (a policy book, if you will). This is the way we relate in our office. This is the way that you can expect to be treated. This is the way the law requires we employ you.

It was rolled out by those who are gifted in that area, by our labor lawyers and others who are members of this body who said, "This is the law. This is the way you have to operate." All that stuff was put in that book including all of the things about how we would compensate them and allow them to have time off and relate to them with sick days, insurance, and how this all would roll out and what COBRA was and all that different stuff. We put it all out there.

As soon as they were done making their presentations, as a leader, I stood up and said, "You guys have your policy notebook? Great. Don't ever appeal to it. Don't ever come to us on the basis of that book. Don't ever 'Section 3, paragraph 4, line 7' me, because I think we can do better." I turned to Jim Wimberly, who was new on our staff at the time and served as Vice President of Human Resources for a Fortune 500 company for a couple of decades, and I said, "Jim, how many laws did I just break?" He goes, "All of them."

I said, "Let me tell you, folks, why I'm saying this. We don't need the state of Texas to tell us how to relate to you. We will always do better than Governor Perry tells me I have to do towards you." The reason that there are labor-management disputes is because of sin. There are labor-management disputes that are out there because there are folks who relate to each other in an abusive way. "I want to exploit you. I want to rule over you. I want more from you. I want to get back at you for the way you treat me." Because of sin in their heart and self-vested interest, there is natural tension in those relationships. I want to say to them, "May it never be that that would define us."

I said, "I want to tell you as your leader that I will always treat you better than the law of Texas requires that I treat you. If there's ever a time you feel exploited, if you ever feel like we're using you up and wringing you up and drying you out, don't have a labor attorney call me. Walk into my office or walk into the office of your direct report and say, 'I am struggling. I am worn down, and I am whipped,' or 'I feel like this is unjust or unfair,' and let us work through that together as a testimony to our love for one another.

Just because I'm in a position of leadership over you doesn't mean I can exploit you and treat you as some pawn or some insignificant person. In fact, my Lord tells me I should not take my position of authority as the Gentiles who don't know God do and use it to exploit you. My Lord tells me the greatness of my name and my love for him will be displayed not by how many men I bring into my service, but by how many men I serve. That's my glory.

If I'm in a position of leadership over you, I ought to make you feel as valued as I possibly can. If somehow, we're falling short of how our world says I should treat you, we want to know that long before you have to appeal to the law."

Here's what it says in Romans 13. Let me show you this very specifically. It says, "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities." I wasn't saying we're not going to do the law because we're a church. I'm going to say that if you want to live by the law, that is not a good way to live. Let's live by love and concern for each other. I can assure you it will never fall below the standard of what the world says. So if you think it's seeping below that, let's talk about it, but I'm telling you that we can relate to each other better than the labor laws of this state say that we can.

"For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God…" We're not resisting what the state of Texas says. I want to do better still. "…and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers [or laws, if you will] are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil."

The reason you need policy books and labor law is because there are godless people who will use their positions of employment of others to exploit them. "If I am your master and you are underneath me and I want to rape you, I'll rape you. If I want to beat you, I'll beat you. If I want to make you work 15 hours a day, I'll make you work 15 hours a day because it pleases me." Rightly, law comes along and says, "No. You will not treat people that way."

This is what Christ is going to do. He's going to come alongside, and he's going to say to you that there is no distinction between slave and free man or between Jew and Greek. What matters is who is your head. What marks you is not your social status. What marks you is who your King is, who your Father is, or whose boy you are. If he is your head, then you are brothers together, and you treat each other like brothers. Look what it says in the Scripture in Luke 12:2-3.

"But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops."

The idea here is, "Hey masters. Just because you think you can get away with something societally or without others knowing what you're doing, doesn't mean you should do it. There's going to be a day when everything is known, and the one that you are accountable to is going to hold you into account."

By the way, this is what is going on in 1 Peter 3. This is the genius of the New Testament. What Paul does when he talks about how believers should act with one another is he starts by saying things that the pagan moralists would endorse. "Wives, God is telling you that you should be living in reverence and subjection to your husband. There is authority and order there. So honor your husband. Don't do him wrong. Do him right." The pagan moralists would say, "That's exactly right."

Look what happens right after that in Colossians 3. Paul came right along and said, "No husbands. Now that we have it clear what that person should do in response to you, I'm going to tell you that you should lay down your life for your wife." It was radical that people who were socially superior should respect, even serve, social inferiors. Once it was established who the King was, and once the King took care of people's hearts, it was the means through which the practice of slavery was made impossible.

God didn't just need to say, "Don't do this." He said, "Love each this way. If you love each other this way, there won't be slavery. But if you associate this new faith with this deeply ingrained social institution, it will be killed with a rebellion against the social institution. The problem is not the institution of slavery. That is a symptom of the hardness and wickedness in the hearts of men. God has come to shatter that and to make those hearts new."

Let me give you an example of this. Robert E. Lee was the head of the Confederate Army. Robert E. Lee, in a letter he wrote in 1856 in response to something he had heard the president say, wrote this. "There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil." Robert E. Lee said this because he was a man who loved Jesus Christ, and he stood against the institution of slavery.

Yet, why did he lead the Confederate forces? He led the Confederate forces for the same reason the Puritans left England. They didn't want somebody else to tell them how they were to live their life based on the law that the king would say is the law. Our government was founded, as we know, with the idea that the Scripture's idea of moral rightness is correct, that all men are created equal. There were individuals though, that were not living as if all men were created equal, and Lee said that is wrong and it is a scourge among the people.

When we exist as sovereign states that unite together for the common good, and these other states start to tell these sovereign states how they should live… He said that's why they left the former land. He doesn't make any excuses for what they're doing as being evil, but the way they're going to change them is not with war, but with doing war with the wickedness that is in their hearts.

Now follow this. He says, "It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages [talking about slavery]. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter [meaning the slaves], my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former."

Among other things, what I think Lee meant by that was, "This is not good right now for [as he used the phrase] the colored race, and I am strongly feeling for them, but even more do I feel for those who live wickedly right now, oppressing them because society will allow them to because they're facing far worse than seventy years of bondage when they are called to an account by their Master."

He says, "Their [the slaves'] emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence [the influence of Christ], though slow, is sure. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist!"

What Lee was saying is that we have a lot of work to do in the hearts of men, and legislation alone is not going to take care of it. I want to say this. We should do everything we can to put men and women into office who will fight for the sanctity of life. But may we never be so naive as to think that just because it's on the books that men are going to start honoring life which is the womb of a woman.

As we fight hard against institutions that are cruel and wrong, we have to make sure that we don't just get lazy because the law says it's wrong. God says that when the law of love (the law of Christ) rules in the hearts of men, that's when you will get rid of management and labor conflict. That's when you will get rid of horrible abuses and institutions like slavery.

You can't call somebody a slave six days a week, and then all of sudden because you go somewhere on Sunday you hypocritically call them a brother. When you come to understand who you are before your Master and see who they were (created by that same Master), your relationship with them will change.

Just because I'm the head, the CEO, the president, the leader, the big kahuna, doesn't mean I can treat the receptionist any way I want because I am more valuable than them. Christ says, "May it never be. You love them, and you use your position to honor them and bless them, and you who are in positions of social superiority should respect and even serve those who are socially 'inferior.'"

In 1 Peter 3, Paul comes along, and he says what the Pagan moralists would say. "Wives, submit to your husbands. Children, obey your parents. Slaves, obey your masters." The Pagan folks go, "Right on. Good word. That's what I think." But each time he comes along he says, "Let me just tell you something husbands. Lay down your life for your wife. Let me tell you something mothers and fathers. Don't exasperate your children. Let me tell you something masters. You'd better not abuse your slave because you have a master too, and you will be held in account before him."

So in 1 Peter 3:1-6 he goes through, and he talks about the husband's responsibility, just like Paul did in Colossians. Then Peter in verse 7 shows up right here. "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman…"

Meaning just because you are physically stronger than her, just because in different ways you're made emotionally different…you can separate different things and move forward, and you know when you get one area of her life all in turmoil, her whole world falls apart…don't exploit the fact that you are stronger than her physically and emotionally. You show her honor. You understand her. You listen to her. Don't tell her to get over it because you're over it. You serve her in your strength.

" … and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life…" Watch this. "…so that your prayers will not be hindered." Married men, I hope that makes your knees buckle. What God is saying right here is, "Don't you tell me that you want me to serve you in my position of glory and greatness and security and to humble myself to minister to your needs as a weak human if you are not going to love those that you have the ability to serve in your strength."

God says, "I will have your prayers, your appeals, and your cries hit the ceiling and bounce right back down to you so you may know what it's like to have somebody who is greater than you that you appeal to say, 'I'm too busy for you.' I'm not going to be sympathetic towards your struggles if you're not a person who is sympathetic toward others." That is true eternally, and it is true temporally (in this moment). He says, "No. This is how you should relate to each other because of what Christ has done."

"…be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."

In other words, I would rather have been a bonded servant in Robert E. Lee's house than I would've been some free man who was a victim of abusive leadership in the North. If Lee was consistent with his faith (and he was by all accounts), those who were in his household (whatever their race or color), would've been treated with harmony, respect, sympathy, brotherly kindheartedness, humility, and not returning evil for evil or insult for insult. It would've been a blessed community.

I'm just going to cut right to the chase and tell you that here's the deal. Here's the application of all of this for you and for me as we make our way through.

1._ If you can't do what you are doing without saying 'I do this in the name of Christ,' then you shouldn't be doing it…period._ If you couldn't say, "In the name of Christ I take you off that ship, and I treat you as property, and because you're my property, if I want to kill you for my pleasure, I'll kill you for my pleasure in the name of Christ," then you should not do it. That's what it means right there in Colossians 3:17. This is the standard that Paul's throwing out.

Don't tell me Paul did not take a stand that if it was heeded to would abolish the wickedness that came to be known, not as the slavery which was most common in that day in age (which is when one warring nation would come and take over another nation and bring those people into servitude for it), but the slavery that became (again) what we're most familiar with in our nation's history. He addresses both of them.

"Whatever you do in word or deed, * do * all in the name of the Lord Jesus…" Here's what I mean by that. If you take somebody's name and say, "In the name of God, I do this," you'd better make sure you're rightly representing God.

In my house every now and then, I will have two little siblings around the corner not knowing that I'm there. One will be playing with something that the other might want, and they have been known to say, "Dad said that you've had that long enough, and you should give it to me now." I hear that, and I walk around the corner, and I go, "Who said? Did you just invoke my name to take away that Game Boy from your brother?"

"Uh, yeah. I did."

"Well, I don't think that's right. Come over here and talk to the one who owns that name," and we will talk. Now, especially if I go around that corner, and I hear somebody say, "In the name of Dad, I'm going to bludgeon you about the head, kick you in the shin, slap you in the face, pull your hair, and then take the Game Boy just because I'm bigger and can." How do you think I'm going to react to that? I'm going to react with a little bit more haste and with a little bit more consequence.

A standard that Paul sets out for us right here is if you can't say to somebody, "In the name of Christ, I shepherd you this way. In the name of the Christ, I tell you don't do what I do, do what I say, boy. In the name of Christ, don't speak unless you're spoken to. In the name of Christ, I leave your mother because it's easier and more fun for me over here.

In the name of Christ, I want to speak harshly to you and call you names. In the name of Christ, I'm never going to validate your effort and behavior because you might somehow think that I think you've arrived, and you'll become lazy and not strive as hard. So I'll never let you know I love you in the name of Christ."

How do you think God feels when somebody says, "I am God's agent over you, and in the name of God's authority I treat you this way," if it is abusive? God goes, "You know what? They're going to think that I endorse that behavior. They're going to think that I'm like you, and I don't appreciate that much." So all these folks who wanted to quote and say, "There's nothing in the Scriptures that prohibits slavery," I beg to differ.

Now, listen. There is nothing in the Scriptures that does anything about saying that there some who will be masters over others and others who will be employed by them and be their servants as a means to how they provide for their family. He's just saying, "Make sure those of you who are in a position of influence don't exploit those who are in a position of servanthood underneath you."

2._ Your relationship with God through Christ ought to change everything, no matter what society allows._ In other words, just because society lets you have slaves doesn't mean you should have a slave that you treat as property and not as a person. That was acceptable for hundreds of years in this country, and it's been acceptable for thousands of years going as far back as recorded history. Just because the world says it's okay doesn't mean you should endorse it. You have to ask yourself…Is this the way God would have me act and behave?

I mentioned last week that my father was an official in the NFL. There was a time when they were officiating with their crew. Their crew would get together the day before the game and review the film from the week before and get ready for the next day's game. They would get up real early. In certain towns, there were churches that would meet very early in the morning, so some of those guys in the small group of men who officiate would try and go to them and have some attempt to worship spiritually together.

There was this one town that they were in where a Hall of Fame coach, whose name I'm not going to mention because it's not really important, was at this particular place of worship and was in leadership at that particular place of worship. That morning when they went and received Communion, this particular coach offered Communion to these gentlemen.

Later that day, some four hours later… It was a 7:00 service, and kickoff was noon. They all had to be at the stadium three hours before kickoff. They were there, and about an hour and a half into that game there was a call made by a certain official. This same coach came up, pulled his headset off, and starts to undress this official, letting him know every blue word in the book, and tearing him up and down, just like you see happen on TV.

The official is looking straight ahead just like they're asked to do. Finally, that official got so sick of it, he turned over and said, "Hey coach. I just wanted to tell you I really appreciated getting Communion from you this morning," and then turned back over here. That coach got really hot and called the league office. They disciplined that official.

They told him. "Nuh-uh. Don't you drag what that man does in his personal life over there, and don't you get in an exchange with him in that way. Our society allows coaches not to touch you but to let you know what they think about you and your performance on that field. Don't you take him on, and certainly don't invoke his religion as means through which he can't do that."

Let me ask you a question. Just because society allows that kind of behavior, does that mean that coach should do that if he loves Christ? I don't think so either. And just because we laugh and think that guy had a pretty cutting statement to that coach, should he return insult for insult? I don't think so either.

Just because society says it's okay to work 65 hours a week and then play golf on the weekends and abandon your wife and family, do you think you should? I don't think so either. Just because society says you can continue to build up for yourself wealth in storehouses and not be concerned with the good of others and the advancement of the kingdom, should you do that? I don't think so either.

Don't tell me that what society endorses is what's okay. Don't dumb yourself down to the level of the godless. You rise above it, and you let your relationship with God change everything. You set your mind on his standards, not the world's.

3._ Your relationship with God through Christ ought to change everything. No matter what anyone sees._ In other words, if society won't let you beat or rape your slave, it doesn't mean that you'd better not do it in public but just do it over here, and in fear and intimidation keep them quiet. Look what it says in Leviticus 19. "You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning." Whether anybody knows it or not, if you have it, you give it.

"You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind…" Why does he say that? It doesn't matter if that guy hears your cursing. It doesn't matter if that guy can know who made him trip. "I know who cursed him, and I know who made him trip, and you should reverence me." The point is that what changes everything is not what is known. Everyone is a slave to Christ. Let that rule you. Not the rules of society or what society sees.

Going back to Colossians 3, look at verse 22. This is great. Sometimes the Greek language is so descriptive. It says, "Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service…" If you have the King James version it says, "…not with eyeservice…" That word external in the NASB version is made up of two Greek words. One is ophthalmos, which is the word for eye, and doulas, which I told you is the word for slave. So ophthalmodoulia is the word external right here.

The idea here is don't serve what the eye can see. You serve what your Father, your Master, can see, which is everything. Then it says, "…with sincerity [or singularity] of heart, fearing the Lord […] It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."That's who you serve, and that's who sees, and that's who you should fear. Your relationship with God through Christ ought to change everything no matter what anyone else sees.

4._ Your relationship with God through Christ ought to make you a better husband, wife, dad, mother, son, daughter, employer, and employee, and if it doesn't…look out._ What I mean by that is exactly what I just referred to. If you don't fear the Lord, if you can get away with a certain standard of living as a master or as an employer, and the world doesn't think it's a problem, that isn't your only concern.

Look what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:10. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

In other words, you ought to be a better slave because you know you're going to eventually be compensated for the good that you do, whether your master or your employer ever sees it or not. You live in light of eternity. Yes, it's unjust now. Yes, it's wicked right now. But you don't take persecution because you are a rebel. You take persecution because you live rightly before God and you trust in him to do good. God will take care of that master.

Don't ever let that master make you do wrong that you know God wouldn't have you do. You suffer for that, but don't worry about your societal status. You worry about your stand before your King. Look at Romans 2:9. "** There will be **** tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek…"** I don't care what your heritage is. You have to stand before God.

Ephesians 6:9, "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." Just because you're a father, you can get away with that with your son? Just because you're a husband, you can get away with that with your wife? Just because you're the employer, you can get away with that with your employee, whether the state of Texas says you can or not? You have a Master too, and he will hold you into account.

5._ Don't be surprised if you're going to have the opportunity to endure things on the earth that provoke the wrath of God and prove the worth of your faith._ This is really important. The Bible does not condone persecution. It does not promote persecution. It doesn't prescribe persecution. It doesn't in any way endorse persecution. It just acknowledges it. It's a broken world.

The Bible doesn't endorse slavery. It doesn't prescribe slavery. It doesn't promote slavery. It acknowledges that it exists in a broken world and that there are abusive people in authority. What he says is, "Endure it, and don't seek to change that abuse as much as you seek to be faithful in the midst of it."

First Peter 4: "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing…" Is your faith real? Can you trust that there is a God who will one day make it right? Can you really sing, "As long as I have King Jesus, I don't need anybody else"? That's real easy for us today, isn't it? But there were some folks who the worth of their faith was made eternally known when they lived in an abusive society and there were abusive men who said, "In the name of the Lord I own you and treat you like dirt."

There were some great spirituals who came out that field. Oh, man. "Swing low, sweet chariot. You take me out of this. Meanwhile, Lord, let me be faithful, not to this wicked man, but to you, doing what I should do today. Let me suffer persecution. Not because I'm rebel, not because I'm a runaway, but because I'm doing right by God. I pray that my doing right by God will bring this joker to repentance. Lord, if he doesn't come to repentance, it is worse of him than it is for me, and this is pretty wicked."

He says, "…as though some strange thing were happening to you…" It's not strange. Sinners sin. Fallen worlds act like they're fallen. "keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."

Make sure, however, you're not reviled for these reasons: that you're a murderer or a thief. Stealing from your master because you think he should give you more food. If you die, you get to glory quicker. "That's easy to preach, Pastor. Those aren't your babies crying over there in that back room."

Sometimes I scratch my head at why God doesn't come pouring through the clouds and deal with stuff. He said, "You can be sure of this. There will be a day, and I will not miss anything, and vengeance is mine. You let me execute vengeance. I will do it better and more thoroughly than you." Therefore, if you are in a position of authority, make sure you're not doing the persecution and you're not the slave owner.

6._ Your relationship with God through Christ ought to encourage you and enable you to live a life that makes absolutely no sense apart from the reality of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection_. In other words, people ought to look at you and go, "How do you live this way and love this way and act this way? It makes no sense. How can you love that man? How can you serve that man? How can you be the best slave here, with integrity and an ethic that doesn't just work when the whip's around but that works faithfully when his back is turned?"

"This is why. I don't serve him. I serve my Master. I don't worry about getting caught surfing the 'net, I worry about doing the right thing all the time. I don't worry about coming early when the boss is going to be early. I worry about getting here on time all the time, because that's what people do when they're doing the right thing." You might suffer still. Look what it says in Matthew 5:10-12.

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when * people * insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great…"

Y'all believe that? You see, you can't live that way unless you believe your reward in heaven is great, unless you believe there is a heaven, and unless you believe Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected as the firstfruits for others to follow after him who faithfully know and follow his way.

7._ When we realize that we have a husband (a head, if you will) who does not exploit us, a father who does exasperate us, a master who does not abuse us, it is easy to sing_. We are free. We ought to be encouraged and empowered to emulate him with all of our heart. We ought to be people who live differently, marry differently, father differently, employ differently, and are employed differently.

It doesn't matter. Everything on us ought to be completely changed, and we ought to live with an economy that the world goes, "That is the way it ought to be. That is divine." We ought to say, "You know what we're doing? We're just becoming conformed to the image of our Father, who although he was God himself, he did not come to call men to serve him but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. We're just following after him." This is what says in 1 Peter 2:19-21. This is the example that Christ gave for you.

"…if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly [that's no big deal] . For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer ** for it **** you patiently endure it, this **** finds **** favor with God.**

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting * Himself * to Him who judges righteously…"

If we want King Jesus to be lifted up and glorified, then the world ought to know that working for us is the best place in the world to work. Working for you in your law firm. Working for you in your bank. They ought to say, "This is the best place in the world to work because these people apply principals. They honor me. They don't treat me like some worthless piece of meat just to crank out some profit for them. They care for me. They love me. They value me. I want to be around them."

Then you tell them, "Let me tell you why I treat you this way as your employer. I'm just following in the steps of my Father, who loved me, who left his place of security and privilege to come and serve me." If you work for somebody, you ought to be the most faithful employee in the stock. They come and say, "How come everybody else we know cheats on their expense accounts? If they hear there's a clampdown coming, then things just shore up. You're different. Yours didn't change. You were acting this way already. Why are you that way?"

"Because I don't work for you. I work for Christ. I know he knows about my expense account all the time. That's why I'm here early. That's why I work hard when you have me. I'm not taking pens home. I'm not making copies for my son's birthday party in the copier unless I ask you. I don't work for you. I work for my King, and I'd love you to know him."

When you love as a husband should love his wife, when you father as a father should love his son, or when you employ as a believer should employ, you have a built-in mechanism for evangelism that the world cannot resist, and you follow on the path of the one who though he existed above all, he thought of you and lifted you up through the sacrifice of his Son. That's worth emulating. That's what believers do.

Father, I pray that we would not dumb ourselves down to the acceptable levels of societal standards, but that we would be salt and light in society, and through our love for others for using our positions of authority or our societal status of being a servant of another, that we would serve faithfully, that we would lead lovingly, and then in doing so, when people demand from us an explanation, we give them an account of the Lord Jesus.

We get to tell how you did not come to be served but to serve and to give yourself as a ransom for many. And that we could talk about how you, who were above all, came down here and loved us all. We would talk about King Jesus, and they would come to know that they need him as well.

We thank you for your grace that has placed us at the right hand of God in Christ. May we now live as if our hearts are set there singularly, and we don't do what the world says we should do or what the world notices; we do what you say we should do, reverencing you for what you notice, knowing that you will reward us in the day. Amen.

About 'Colossians: CSI: Asia Minor (Volume II)'

From a book that is 2,000 years old comes evidence that has been preserved about the greatest truth the world has ever known and how it can transform our lives. The book of Colossians walks through the radical change that happened to some in an ancient east Asian city, revealing the struggles they faced, the resistance they met, and the transformation they found as a result of the hope they had. Join Todd Wagner as he studies the Colossians scene to discern how their journey can reveal truths that can change us.