This article first appeared in the Sept.1, 1984 issue of the Standard Bearer (Vol.60, #20) and was written by Rev. Arie denHartog.
Servants of the Lord in our Daily Occupation
We are the servants of the Lord. We believe that God is the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. He is our Lord for He is our creator and redeemer, and it follows from this that we must be His servants. We have been made the servants of the Lord bi His wonderful grace. We were by nature the servants of the devil and of sin. But through His wonderful grace in Christ Jesus we have been redeemed in order that we might serve Him all the days of our life. It is indeed a great blessing and wonderful privilege that we are the servants of the Lord. We have a most glorious and blessed master. He has given us all things. We have nothing of ourselves. All that we have belongs to the Lord first of all. Even our very soul and body and all that we are belong to Him. We must therefore serve Him in love and gratitude. We must consecrate our whole life to Him. To do anything less is a great sin. We must present our bodies a living sacrifice unto the Lord, for this is our reasonable service. To serve Him means that we seek to do His will. It means that we seek to promote the cause of His kingdom in this world. It means that we seek in all our life to bring glory unto His name. To serve Him means that in every area of our life we live in righteousness and truth according to our Lord's commandments. God is our supreme Lord and Master. Though we may serve earthly masters, our real and only Lord is our God.
Even as we must serve the Lord in all areas of our life so also we must serve Him in our daily occupations. In fact, of course, for most of us our daily occupation takes up most of the time and energies of our life. We must not imagine that we need to serve the Lord only in church. Our service in the church is of supreme importance. Without serving the Lord in church we cannot serve Him in any other area of our life. That we are servants of the Lord must have a tremendous effect on how we conduct ourselves in our daily occupation. The apostle Paul speaks of this most beautifully in Ephesians 6:5-10.
Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye service as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing that any man doeth, the same shall receive of the Lord whether he be bond or free. And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your master also is in heaven; neither is respect of persons with Him.
In our daily occupation most of us are servants and some of us are masters. We believe that the employee-employer relationship of our modern day parallels in almost all essentials the relationship of master-servant of which the Bible has so much to say. The only real difference is that as employees we are free, whereas a servant was usually bonded to his master.
In order to understand what it means that we are the servants of the Lord we must first of all be profoundly conscious of the fact that also in this area of our life all that we are and all that we have is the Lord's. He created us. All our members are written in His book. He determined all our talents and abilities. He gave us our life, our strength and health. He gave us opportunities to get a certain amount of study and training in preparation for our occupation. In His wonderful providence He provided an occupation for us. If we are in business and our business has prospered, that is only because of the Lord. God the Lord of heaven and earth and of all men did not make us all equal. He gave varying powers of intellect and ability to men. He gave different opportunities. One can become a doctor or a lawyer or a company executive or hold some other occupation that has great esteem among men. Another can advance no further than a common laborer. The business of one may so prosper that it develops into a great and wealthy corporation where millions of dollars are turned over every year. The business of another might continue small and struggling. If we are Reformed Christians who believe in the absolute sovereignty of God over all things then we believe that all these things are of the Lord.
As long as we are on this earth we have a calling to labor in an earthly occupation. Our Lord ! despises the sluggard and the man who refuses to work. It is through laboring with our hands the thing that is good that the Lord blesses us with material things. Through these things we are enabled of the Lord to raise up a Christian family and to provide a home and provisions for such a family. But our earthly occupation is secondary. It is only temporary. Above this we are called to be the servants of the Lord in His everlasting kingdom which is manifest here already on this earth. We must use our earthly occupation even for the purpose of seeking the kingdom of our God and the glory and righteousness of that kingdom. We must in our earthly occupation live righteously and holily before the Lord, for this is our highest calling.
If we consider the ungodly man of the world we can see so much evidence of how he refuses to serve the Lord in his daily occupation. Therefore the world is filled with violence and corruption. Wicked men are filled with greed and materialism. Their only concern is to agradize themselves and amass to themselves greater and greater fortunes. They care not about the law of God. They care not about the God-ordained order for society and the servant-master relationship. Therefore laborers rise up in rebellion against their employers. They use violence and the united power of unions to accomplish their ends. There is no limit to their greed and lust. They care not that in that violence and greed they destroy the property and even the life of their fellow man. In their lust for material gain and earthly glory and power they care not if they lie and steal and cheat in order to deprive their fellow man. They are ready to impoverish their fellow man only that they themselves might have great wealth. The masters or bosses of this world are no better than the servants or employees. They will build bigger and bigger kingdoms for themselves on this earth. In order to do this they will engage themselves in all sorts of corrupt practices. The larger and more sophisticated the modern corporations become the greater becomes their potential to practice fraud and corruption. The bosses of this world will use their employees only for their own advantage. They refuse to pay them their just wages. They care not if their employees languish in poverty. They consider their employees but ignorant and lowly servants who are unworthy of any more than mere subsistence and minimal wages. Both the servants and the masters of, this world are evil. They are both an abomination in the sight of God. Though they accuse and excuse one another, both stand condemned under the judgment of God. It is not true that one evil justifies another. It is not true as the world reasons that when a master refuses to pay a just and equitable wage to his employee that this gives the right to the employees to band together in wicked and rebellious unions to destroy the property and even the life of their employees. Neither does the employer have the right to take advantage of the weakness and situation of their employees to pay them absolutely the smallest wage that he can get by with. Who can measure the violence and wickedness that there is today on the part of both evil masters and wicked rebellious servants!
The Christian lives in the midst of this evil world of violence. He surely may not have any part in that wickedness at all. It is for this reason that our churches have always insisted that a Christian may not be a member of the wicked labor unions of this world. This position is clearly based on Scripture. Though it is increasingly difficult for the Christian to maintain this position in this ungodly world, as a servant of the Lord he must maintain it.
Because the Christian is the servant of the Lord he submits himself to the ordinances of the Lord. These ordinances are absolute for him. God has stated clearly in His word that servants must be in subjection to their masters. Employees must be obedient in all things to their masters. Though the Christian employee is free to change his place of employment, as long as he is in a given company he must submit to his employer. He must do this not only to the good and gentle but also to the forward (see I Peter 2:18). Christian servants are subject to their masters for the Lord's sake. In doing this they honor the Lord.
The Christian employee who is the servant of the Lord does his work heartily. Paul tells servants in Colossians 3:24, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not unto men." The faithful Christian servant does his work well. He uses all of his abilities and energies in the employment of his master. He does his work willingly and cheerfully and not grudgingly. Very practically that means the Christian puts in a good day of hard and faithful work. His work shines with excellence according to his abilities.
The Christian servant performs his work in righteousness and truth. He is honest in all things and above reproach. He labors in the thing which is good. Constantly he is faced with the wicked corruption and deceit of this world. He may even see the evil men of this world advancing in material prosperity and position through corruption and violence. He may find that his very working colleagues advance above him through wickedness. Though he may be tempted in his sinful nature to follow corruption for material gain he remembers that he is a servant of the Lord and therefore he resists this temptation. Though the Christian servant may properly seek for material gain upon the labors of his hands, he never pursues material gain at the expense of righteousness and truth.
The faithful employee brings honor unto his Lord. It is not his desire to be a men pleaser but rather to please his true Lord and Master. Indeed, when the Christian labors faithfully as before his Lord he bears a good testimony. The lazy and slothful servant brings great shame to his lord. Though the world often accuses the Christian and mocks him for his adherence to righteousness and truth, he faithfully labors to please his Lord in heaven. The world often persecutes the Christian, but when the Christian labors faithfully in his occupation he puts to silence the accusations of wicked men. We have many examples of this is Scripture. Consider the examples of Joseph and Daniel and Nehemiah. Though they worked in heathen courts they were a great testimony through their diligent and faithful labors as servants. History has repeatedly proven that though the world may make all kinds of accusations against Christians, they remain to be the best and most faithful workers.
Because the Christian in his daily occupation realizes that he does all things unto the Lord, he can find joy and satisfaction in even the most tedious and, laborious of tasks. His great joy and satisfaction is in doing all of his work faithfully and righteously before the Lord.
The servant of the Lord does not make materialism his idol. It is not the great concern of his life only to get richer and richer. He knows that it is harder for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. He is aware of the great danger that the love of riches will lead him away from his Lord. The Christian servant is thankful when the Lord prospers him. He sees that whatever the Lord gives to him is also required of him. He stands under the solemn obligation to be a faithful steward of all which the Lord has given to him. To whom much is given much is required.
The servant of the Lord works with his hands also in order that he might have material possession to give for the support of the cause of the church and kingdom of God and for the relief of the poor. Because he knows that he is the servant of the Lord and all of his possessions are first of all the Lord's, he gives liberally and cheerfully as the Lord has prospered him.
If we are Christian masters we also have a great calling before the Lord. Though we are masters over our employees we must never imagine that we are supreme and sovereign lords who can do as they please. Christian masters are also servants of the Lord. To be a master involves a greater responsibility than a servant. Men have been entrusted to your care and oversight. This is very serious. The Christian master must show himself to be an imitator of his Lord in heaven. The servant of the Lord who is a master of men gives to them their just dessert. He pays to them a fair and just wage. He forebears threatening. He is good and kind and gentle with his servants. He is deeply sympathetic to their needs and situations in life. He honors his employees for the service they have rendered to him and never despises them. He knows that his Lord in heaven is not a respecter of persons. He realizes that before the Lord there is neither bond nor free. All God's people are brothers in Christ Jesus. God does not regard the master of this world more highly than the servant. He does not regard the great and glorious, the wealthy and the mighty of this world. For the most part His people are found among the lowly and despised of the earth. The master of this world will often find that his very servants are greater in godliness than himself, and this is occasion for humility on his part and reason for dealing in deepest respect and love with his servants.
Whether we be servants or masters in this world we must all give an account for what we do unto our Lord in heaven. He will judge us all. Both the faithful servant and the faithful and godly master looks unto the reward of his Lord in heaven. This motivates both employer and employee to labor with fear and trembling, doing that which is good, that they might be found pleasing in the sight of the Lord of heaven, and bringing glory to His name.
Rev. Arie denHartog (Wife: Sherry)
Ordained: October 1974
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1974; Foreign Missionary, Singapore - 1979; Randolph, WI - 1987; Redlands, CA - 1990; Minister-on-Loan, Singapore - 2001; Southwest, Grandville, MI - 2005; emeritus, Dec.31, 2016Website: www.southwestprc.org/
Address4895 Ivanrest Ave. SW
State or ProvinceMichigan
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