December 4, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 6)

Submitted by James K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:5-8

  • Reflect on the charge to servants.  Note the perspective and heart shift that the gospel makes possible in this context.  What would have been the impact of such a shift in how servants viewed themselves and their work? 

The perspective change for a servant would be significant, as to serve their earthly masters as they would Christ elevated their service.  They would no longer just be doing the bare minimum of what was expected of them, but rather serve out of love and devotion to Christ.  The day-to-day acts of service they would perform would not simply be to appease their earthly masters while they were in sight, but they would work hard and diligently, having integrity in what they did regardless of the physical presence of their earthly masters, for God is ever present.  This charge elevated their service to their earthly masters to “doing the will of God from the heart”.  That’s a huge difference.

The impact that this shift of how the servants viewed themselves would have affected everybody around them.  Fellow servants, their masters, as well as other people they interacted with as they went about their duties.  This switch from serving out of being enslaved to serving out of doing the will of God changes one’s attitude toward whatever task.  The quality of the work would be raised.  Their attitudes would be of joy rather than of reluctance over the same tasks they were responsible for.  And their relationships with those they were called to serve would change as well, as all of these things would then be rendered unto the Almighty Most High God of the universe, rather than just tending to the requirements of their position.

  • What are some principles from these verses that can apply to me at school, home and work?

The application of the principles from these verses is that I, too, ought to see what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis as things rendered unto the Almighty Most High God of the universe, because it’s no longer the work in-and-of-itself that is the point.  It’s the attitude I take on and the relationships that I have with those whom I interact with as I carry out my responsibilities.  Being a software engineer, there are things that aren’t as enjoyable to do.  For the most part, these tasks get evenly distributed at my workplace.  But I should be willing to take on those less enjoyable tasks and be faithful to them, and strive for excellence as I do them.  That affects the kind of reputation that I have among my coworkers, since most of my coworkers know that I’m Christian, and those of us who attend the same church.  And so all the more, the work that I do, how I deal with issues and problems, how I interact with others, etc.–all represent Christian work ethic, whether I like it or not.  And so when I go about my duties, I have this opportunity to demonstrate how my commitment to Christ impacts the kind of work that I do at the workplace.  I can’t take on a bad attitude as I fix issues or point fingers at other people when problems come up.  The rest of the world will do that.  That is not how I would serve God, and so that is not how I can behave at my workplace.

“Non-Christians don’t read the bible, they read Christians.” The way that I live should bring them to take notice.  My faith needs to be “spoken” through my life without ever having to necessarily speak a word: my character, my decisions, behavior and attitude.  If the only indication of my followership of Christ is my verbal profession, and I don’t have a life that shines among those who do not know Jesus, then there is something wrong.

Ephesians 6:5-7

  • Reflect on the words “as you would Christ” (v. 5) and “as to the Lord” (v. 7), and the contrasting descriptions—“way of eye-service,” “people-pleasers.” (v. 6)

When I am living in a way to serve Christ, my Lord, then there would be integrity, wholeness and consistency in what I do.  God is ever-present and he calls me to a life of not just doing things, but a life of “being”.  The values that I hold need to be consistent through whatever situation or circumstance I am in.  But living in such a way as of “eye-service” or being a “people-pleaser”, I’d only do what is beneficial to me given the context of those around me.  It would be a way to illegitimately gain popularity or acceptance and approval from others by doing things in their presence that would earn me such.  When they aren’t present, or if I’m among a different group of people, then what I do and how I live would adjust accordingly.  It would be living entirely selfishly, seeing others as some audience that would give me something as long as I’m jumping through the right hoops.  It’s political and lacks integrity and consistency.

Living for the approval of people can be tempting, even when it comes to service within the church.  But at the end of the day, the kind of life that I’m called to live, if the approval of man is what I’m living for, that just won’t be enough.  And the more somebody does that, the further he is from the heart of God.  The heart of God is for others, to love and care for others, to tend to their needs.  But the heart of somebody living for the approval of people is for the self, and what service is done for others would extend only as far as it benefits the self, especially in terms of reputation.

  • How do these verses challenge how I approach work and service in my ministry context? 

What I do, I do before the eyes of God.  If I am going to be a people-pleaser, then I am not going to take the opportunities to shape and to mold the people that God has entrusted into my care, for doing so is difficult and could very easily make me very unpopular.  I ought to strive for excellence in the work that I do for the company I work for so that I might properly represent Christian work ethics.  I don’t want them to regard Christians as people who half-hearted or half finished work, but rather upstanding citizens who do things well out of personal integrity.

These verses challenge having an attitude of being satisfied with subpar standards.  What standards I am satisfied with will be used to represent God and my faith.  I need to be helpful in all areas of my life, which include my workplace, a context in which others still need to be ministered to.

In my ministry context, I need to carry out the duties of the entrustment that has been given me, again, striving for excellence.  I need to be consistent in what I preach to the people I’m ministering to and the life that I myself live.  I take that duty and responsibility very personally and seriously.

Ephesians 6:9

  • Reflect on the words “knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven” (v. 9) and the radical implications on human relationships this implies.  How does this challenge me in my approach to people? Are there some people who I need to see differently based on this reminder of who their master is?

We are all sinners at the mercy of the same Master, and so I can relate to others as such.  I am a sinner alongside every other person that I might be tempted to think I am better than in my life as well.  In all things, everybody is equal before God… sinners in need of mercy.  My approach to people should, then, always be with a humble acknowledgement of that fact.

As I’m in a position of leadership, I need to remember that the people I lead belong to God, and are not there simply for me to get things done.  They have entrusted their service into my care, and I take that burden of responsibility very seriously.  I received many Thanksgiving cards from the Kairos staff recently for Thanksgiving.  Reading every one of their cards humbles me at the privilege that I’ve been given of people who trust me so much.  And I carry that as a steward, knowing that they do so out of their trust in God.  I want to carry that entrustment and guard it and steward it well for their molding and shaping, never putting myself in a position where I can take from them, but rather to lead them and raise them up to be leaders for the sake of the gospel.

Submitted by David W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:5-8

  • Reflect on the charge to servants.  Note the perspective and heart shift that the gospel makes possible in this context.  What would have been the impact of such a shift in how servants viewed themselves and their work? 

The charge to the servants is to obey their earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as they would Christ.  They are to do so not just to gain the favor of the masters but as a service to God doing the will of God.  This is the perspective and heart shift that the gospel makes possible in this context.  Whatever good anyone does, he will receive it back from the Lord, whether he is a servant or not.   They are not relating to man primarily anymore, but they are relating to God.  It is all in relationship and in context of a relationship with God.  The impact of such a shift in how servants viewed themselves and their work would be a change in attitude, perhaps from an unwillingness to a willingness, from a begrudging attitude to a willing attitude, from a bitterness to a joy even.  It might even be possible to win over the master through the life and actions and attitude change of the servant as a witness for God.  It would also transform the servant’s identity from a servant of man to a servant of God, and give them a sense of dignity, a sense of identity.

  • What are some principles from these verses that can apply to me at school, home and work?

Some principles from these verses that can apply to someone as school might be to obey the rules and regulations of the school, of the teachers and authority figures, in the classroom and on the campus not to gain their favor or to just fool them in some way or even for one’s own personal benefit or to be some kind of teacher’s pet, but because it is right before God, because it is one way we can honor God.  At home, I can obey my parents in the Lord, like verse 1 says.  Of course, if they tell me to do something that is conflicting with God’s will, God’s will takes precedence, but as much as possible, I can obey my parents, with a sincere heart, to honor them and to show respect and love to them.  At work, I can obey my manager and my bosses, to do what they ask me to do, to work with integrity and honor and not try to take advantage of work, not cut corners or do a poor quality job, not be a sour, negative, difficult person who argues and gives pushback, not just because their could be consequences to keeping my job or not and that I should be doing what I am told at work, but because my excellence and integrity can be a witness to my manager and bosses, that they would see the effect that being a Christian has on a person.

Ephesians 6:5-7

  • Reflect on the words “as you would Christ” (v. 5) and “as to the Lord” (v. 7), and the contrasting descriptions—“way of eye-service,” “people-pleasers.” (v. 6)

The words “as you would Christ” and “as to the Lord” instruct how we are to carry out our tasks, our actions, and how we are to treat others, our relationships.  We are to carry out our actions as we would if we were doing it to God, and treat others as we would treat God.  It is before God, before the audience of one.  It is to please God.  This is contrasted with the words “way of eye-service” and “people-pleasers”.  To act or treat people in such a way would be to just do things when in the sight of others, so as to make oneself look better, to gain favor or attention, instead of being genuine and honest and how you would really be if no one were looking.  It is to be enslaved to the opinion and approval of others, and to just be motivated to do things so that others can compliment me and praise me, to the boost of my own ego.

  • How do these verses challenge how I approach work and service in my ministry context?

These verses challenge how I approach work and service in my ministry context to work and serve others, the college students and my interns and the church, as I would work and serve God.  It is to be motivated by proper reason, so serve and please God, and not to serve or please man.  What I do wouldn’t be to please my leaders, to gain their favor so that I might be praised and complimented by them for being such a good leader.  I wouldn’t be loving the college students, praying with them, leading them in LIFE group, Course 101, talks, answering their questions, bringing them soup and orange juice when they are sick, remembering and celebrating their birthdays, taking them out to dinner, having difficult conversations, and so on just for human approval or just because my leader told me to.  I would be doing all of that because that is how I can honor and serve God and it would be how I can treat others as I would treat Christ, and it is what I would do as to the Lord.  And it would challenge me to serve faithfully, cheerfully, persistently despite circumstances, how tired I am, and other challenges and difficulties in life that come up.  And it would be so that one day I can hopefully hear from Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Ephesians 6:9

  • Reflect on the words “knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven” (v. 9) and the radical implications on human relationships this implies.  How does this challenge me in my approach to people? Are there some people who I need to see differently based on this reminder of who their master is?

Apostle Paul points out how that we should all know that He who is both their master and mine is in heaven.  Basically, God is not just my God, but He is the God of us all.  Before God, before the cross, we are all equal.  Before God, there is not one better than another, one above another.  We are all sinners.  This is pretty radical, especially in that time, to the audience of masters and slaves, when that is so prevalent and considered so normal and natural.  It has pretty radical implications on human relationships even now, in the present day, where we relate to each other based on what we can get out of one another, how we can benefit from the other person, how useful that other person is, where people compare with one another their appearance, their intelligence, their status in society, their jobs, how much money they make, how much power they have, and so on, to compare who is better and who is worse.  But instead, these comparisons and categories of classification and motivations are nothing before God.  This challenges me in my approach to people, to not be biased against them or judgmental against them in any way.  Personally, I strive to be competent and useful, and this is an area in which I can approach others, judge others, compare with others and demand from others.  This is very dangerous and very ugly, devaluing people and not seeing people as God sees them, each as precious sons and daughters no matter what they can do, how competent and useful they are.  It can very easily turn into a utilitarianism, which taken to an extreme becomes horrifying.  And as I see myself more clearly and my sinfulness, I see how I am not always so competent and not always so useful.  As God is their master and mine, I need to see everyone and treat everyone not based on their competency and usefulness.

In another sense, as I have grown older and served longer in ministry, I have been able to not give in to that view of people, and to instead grow and try to see people as God would see them, to see them as helpless sinners who are in need of the gospel, in need of forgiveness and salvation, in need of be being restored to God, and I have been able to see myself more clearly, as how God sees me, as one just the same, a helpless sinner who through God’s grace and mercy was found by Him and brought back into relationship with Him even though I don’t deserve it and didn’t earn it.  This is how I need to see people, college students that I am ministering to, coworkers, friends, family members and relatives, as God is my master and theirs.

Personal Prayer

Dear God,

You show me and instruct me that the proper way to live, the proper way to relate to others is to view them, treat them, act as I would treat Christ, as I would do to You.  In situations where I have to answer to other authorities, You call me to obey in fear and trembling, with a sincere heart.  I know that I can often fall short of this in so many ways, in so many different areas.  I pray that in all the areas of my life that I would be consistent, a man of integrity and a witness to You through my life and actions, especially in ministry.  As also, I can tend to treat and view and compare with others, particularly in the area of competency and usefulness, help me to fight against that, to see myself clearly and know that we are all the same, equal, sinful people in need of salvation.

In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

Submitted by Will W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 6:5-8

  • Reflect on the charge to servants.  Note the perspective and heart shift that the gospel makes possible in this context.  What would have been the impact of such a shift in how servants viewed themselves and their work? 

Paul’s teaching to servants is not an easy one.  His charge is to obey their earthly masters with fear and trembling, with sincerity, just as they would Christ.  He’s telling servants that these people who very well could be mistreating them are to be treated like Christ.  Paul’s saying, don’t just treat them well on a superficial level, but really as one would towards Christ, doing what they’re doing with good will.  I can only imagine how hard this call must have been for some servants, who probably really hated their masters.  Some of those servants may have been getting persecuted for years, beaten, spit on, tortured, mocked, and generally treated very poorly.  So for a servant to obey this urging by Paul, it’s not easy.  For people to be able to have this heart shift towards their cruel masters would have taken a lot.  Yet that’s the impact and power of the Gospel in people’s hearts.  The power of the Gospel allowed servants to really try to serve their masters and to see that as if they were serving the Lord.  I think the impact of such a shift would be on multiple levels.  On the first level, the servants, though maybe still mistreated would still see themselves as people of dignity.  Their value no longer came from what they did or what society said they were worth, their value came from what Jesus said about them.  The power of the Gospel told the slaves that they were equally valuable before God’s eyes so even if they were doing some pretty painful, menial, and “lowly” tasks that others might not want to, they could still obey their masters, knowing that their obedience would allow them to receive back from the Lord.  Another impact of such a shift in how servants viewed themselves and their work, I’m thinking, might also even affect their masters.  Their masters might then ask, “Why is this person working so hard and not hating me?”  I wonder how many of the people in the early church were slave owners transformed by the Gospel through seeing the witness of their slaves and servants.  One thing we know is that the early church community had people of both high status and low status.  That such relationships could exist in the context of the church was something that would change the Roman world.

  • What are some principles from these verses that can apply to me at school, home and work?

I think in a lot of ways these verses can apply to me directly with regards to my context at work.  The whole slave/master dichotomy is not so apparent in the world today, but I guess the closest thing might be between someone and their boss.  The passage says to obey them and to render service with good will.  The passage doesn’t say only render service with good will if you enjoy your job or that it’s okay to not render service with good will if the job doesn’t seem all that exciting.  The exhortation is the same to all, to do good as if that work is being done towards God.  It’s not to promote the self and be a people-pleaser to the boss, but simply doing good work because doing good work pleases God.  Because the fact is, even though there might be a hierarchy at work, there is none in God’s eyes when looking at us.  And for me as a Christian at my workplace, the way I approach work, the way I interact with my co-workers, that could potentially impact them.  The way I handle myself in tough situations, not getting angry, not cussing, not blowing a fuse, not blaming, not brown-nosing the boss, that is something so different than what others might do.  And maybe just like the early Christians who were slaves that might have saved their masters in sharing the Gospel with them, maybe my Christian witness and work can affect even one person.  No matter what context I’m in, I must serve with a sincere heart.

Ephesians 6:5-7

  • Reflect on the words “as you would Christ” (v. 5) and “as to the Lord” (v. 7), and the contrasting descriptions—“way of eye-service,” “people-pleasers.” (v. 6)

These words “as you would Christ” and “as to the Lord” stand in such sharp contrast to the words “way of eye-service” and “people-pleasers.”  One thing I noticed about these things is where the focus is.  When one does things “as you would Christ” and “as to the Lord,” the focus is on Christ and pleasing him.  And while offering “eye-service” and “people pleasing” can on the outside seem like serving others, such names imply that someone is doing those things to gain something out of it.  When people do things towards Christ and to the Lord, the proper attitude is to do things out of love for Christ.  Looking at what Christ did for us, for me, the only appropriate response would be to do things as to the Lord in a very genuine and sincere way.  People-pleasing, offering eye-service, is simply to draw attention to oneself.  It’s to garner other people’s attention and favor.  So two people could be doing the exact same thing, one person could even objectively be doing a better job.  But the motivation behind actions, the heart makes all the difference.  Because God knows the heart with which we do things, our actions can either fulfill his will or not fulfill his will.

  • How do these verses challenge how I approach work and service in my ministry context?

These verses, especially those phrases above are very applicable then to how I approach both my work and service in my ministry context.  Specifically with how I approach ministry, I think the words “as you would Christ” and “as to the Lord” are an apt reminder to the heart with which I approach ministry work.  There have been times, I admit, where my heart in ministry was more of “eye-service” and “people pleasing” than doing the work unto the Lord.  When I don’t think about why I’m doing ministry, it can get so easy to just think in terms of tasks.  It can get so easy to just do things because my leaders recommend it or because others are doing it.  And I think this can be especially true of service in “ministry” for the kinds of tasks that might go unnoticed or just the more background kind of things.  Whether it’s something like cleaning the bathrooms when we do church cleaning, there’s two ways to do it.  There’s one way, just getting the task done to please the person who is supervising the cleaning, or there’s the other way of seeing doing a good job as being done unto the Lord.  Two people doing the exact same thing might have very different hearts behind what they’re doing and only God will know.  But that’s the whole thing Paul is trying to tell the Ephesians, God knows.  Whatever good work that one does, the passage says, “this he will receive back from the Lord.”  Not all ministry work is fun, get a lot of attention, or even feel like you’re doing all that much, but it can be done unto the God. That’s the lesson for me because I know that it’s in the little tasks or the lesser seen tasks that I’m most prone to take shortcuts.  So whether I’m doing something like HB cleaning, helping with setup or takedown of something for Kairos or for church, or even cleaning up at someone’s house after using it, I can approach these things as things I work hard at, rendering service to the Lord. And like Pastor Andy taught us when we were in Taiwan, it’s in doing those secret acts of service where I know I can avoid doing things out of a heart to people-please or offer eye-service.  In looking for such opportunities that’s when I know the service will be rendered to the Lord and not to man.

Ephesians 6:9

  • Reflect on the words “knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven” (v. 9) and the radical implications on human relationships this implies.  How does this challenge me in my approach to people? Are there some people who I need to see differently based on this reminder of who their master is?

The radical implication on human relationship the verse 9 implies is that we’re all on equal playing field.  Whatever our earthly status or position, what really matters is our master in heaven.  So whether I’m some entry level worker at a company or a CEO, before God we’re all the same in terms of our position in relation to him.  And as I approach others in my life, it means I’m to also think about others in such a light.  The person that might clean the building at my workplace is just as important before God as the CEO of my company.  As I approach people, be it peers, leaders, younger people, or co-workers, all are equally important in terms of me offering my respect and being a good person towards them.  I’m to relate to them with the same kind of love, concern, and care to all people in my life.  As I think about the various people in my life, I think the people I am most challenged to see differently based on the passage right now would be my peers.  I think it’s easy for me to treat my peers a little more roughly or even not try as hard to love them because they’re my peers.  These are the guys I should be closest with and we live together, yet there are times this past semester since living with them where I haven’t been relating to them on a very spiritual level.  And while that’s been something that has been changing, we share the same master and I’ve seen recently how I really need to grow with them on a more spiritual level. On my part I know I’ve been challenged much more this past semester to really cherish these relationships and see how we can really build one another up spiritually.

Personal Prayer

Dear heavenly father, I just want to thank you for the ways that you spoke to me in today’s DT.  I thank you especially for once again challenging the way I approach work that I do, whether it’s at my day job or the ever important work of ministry that you have given me to do.  Father, I pray that in my head, the way with which I approach doing such work I can remember the words of this text, to really strive to “do the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not as to man.”  It’s so easy for me to want to please man, but to please you is so much more valuable.  Father also help me to think of the people you’ve placed in my life on a more spiritual level, seeing that we indeed share you as our master in heaven.  You call me to have godly relationships with the people around me and to elevate those relationships because you are our master.  Thank you Lord for your precious words.

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