Colossians 4:1

Dr. Steve Viars February 18, 1995 Colossians 4:1

- this morning we're going to continue working in the book of Colossians
   on the subject of the Christian Work ethic.

- this is our third week on this subject, and part of the reason for that
    is that Paul gives this topic a lot of emphasis.
     - in fact, if you judge this based on the number of words used, Paul
        gives the topic of employer//employee relationships more emphasis
        than that of husband/wife or parent//child.

         - of course, that’s not saying that employer//employee
           relationships are more important than the others, of course
             - but the fact is -- Paul gives this matter a lot of

- today, we're going to study "God's Word to Employers"

    - I realize that many here today are in this role.
    - thats true either because you actually own your own business, or
       because you've been given the responsibility to manage a group of
       people where you work.
         - in either case--these verses apply to you.

- now I realize you might say, wait a minute--I manage a group of people
    - which makes me an employer
    - but I also work for someone else in that job--which makes me an
          - are you saying I have to apply "both sides" of this passage?

- the answer, of course, is "yes"
   - at least with the husband//wife verses---you were either one or the
       other -- so you sort of got a "week off" when we looked at your
       spouse's role.

- but when it comes to this subject---many are at the same time both
   employees and employers --- there's truth to apply on both sides of
   the equation.

- now, just like the other verses in this passage, our verse for today is
   very straightforward.
      - read Colossians 4:1

- God's word for employers is:

I. You Are Responsible For How You Treat Your Employees

    - this passage clearly spells out an employer's responsibilities to
       his employees.

    - before we look specifically at what the verse says--it might be
       helpful to say that we need to stay out of two ditches on this

    - Ditch #1 - Employees who think their employers owe them the world.

        INPUT - characteristics of folks who are in this ditch?

            - regardless of what I do, how long I've done it, or how well
               I do it---I deserve full benefits.
(characteristics of ditch #1 continued)

    - unlimited sick days -- (and never question me on the way I use
    - holidays for every reason under the sun
    - company car
    - cf. Glen Robinson's contract
        - at one point in the proceedings, in desperation the owner of
            the Milwaukee Bucks said, "I'll take your contract and you
            can have my team" (because the team's net woth was less than
            what Robinson was demanding for his contract)
               (by the way, the last time I checked, the Milwaukee Bucks
                 were in second to last place)

- Ditch on the other side?

    - employers who say things like:

        1) I'm holding all the cards

        2) take it or leave it

        3) I don't answer to anybody

        4) If you don't like this job, there's a line of 10 people behind
            you who will gladly take it.

        5) No one else in this industry does any better--so like it or
            lump it.

- the point of this passage is -- as a Christian employer, you have
    responsibilities to your employees...
       - not because it will impact your bottom line (because it may not)
       - not because the guys down the street are doing it and you need
          to be able to attract workers...

       - but because its right.

- according to the passage, every Christian employer is responsible to
   treat his employees with fairness, and justice.

- now let's work on that together:
   on the white board, let's list examples of fair/just treatment, and
    unfair/unjust treatment.

    Fair/Just treatment                        Unfair/Unjust Treatment




- an important aside to all of this--if you're listening to this from an
   employee point of view--let me caution might not be in a
   good position to make a good judgement of what's fair/just.

- cf. Larry - mechanic at lawnmower shop -- angry about his wages
        - all day long kept a running total of the repairs he did and
           what the customers would be paying the business

INPUT - what was he forgetting?

    - overhead
    - cost of tools
    - value of reputation//customer base
    - what about days when business wasn't as good?
    - insurance
    - benefits

- point is -- this lesson is to employers---if you can't help but view
   this from an employee side---remember - "just because you say its
   unfair doesn't make it unfair."

III. The Reason You Should/Must Obey

    INPUT - what is the reason given in verse 1?

      (because you have a master in heaven)

      INPUT - Why do you think Paul would find it necessary to remind
              employers of that fact?  (easy to get a "Mister Big
              Britches" mentality.)

      - under this point, we're talking about the omnipresence of God.

      - let's look at some other passages that teach that important

         - Psalm 139 (read 1-12)

         - let me ask those of you who are employers to think about how
            you're doing in that role in light of this point.
              - How conscious are you, as you work with your employees
                that God in heaven is your master---and that He is

                  - thinking back to the different areas we listed on the
                     white board earlier--is your belief in the
                     omnipresence of God apparent by the way you handle
                     those areas?

        - let's develop this argument a little further---please turn to
          Genesis 39.
             - here's the story of Joseph -- who by the time we reach
               this passage has risen to being the number 1 man in
               Potiphar's house.
                 - please scan verses 1-12 - find as many examples as you
                   can of God being "with Joseph," or Joseph realizing
                   that God was with him.

- another passage that goes along this line is Hebrews 13:5 - "...for He
    hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

- Some theologians have described this doctrine with the phrase "God is
    our environment." (develop from More than Redemption)

- for our purposes here, this doctrine can be a great blessing, but it
   can also be a great challenge.
     - does the way you treat your employees demonstrate that you are
         conscious of God's omnipresence?

       (you need to remember two things--there is a God, and you're not

- in addition to the principle in this passage, we can also get:

III. Help from The Context

    A. Preceeding verses

        - many Bible students have discussed whether chapter 3:24-25 goes
          with the verses about employees (22-23) or employers (4:1).

        - INPUT - any opinions?

            - please look over at Ephesians 6 for a strong argument to
               view verses 24-25 as applying to both groups.

            - INPUT - what do you see in Ephesians 6:9 that might cause
                you to conclude that Col. 3:24-25 is a transition
                passage that could apply to both groups?

                ("the respect of persons" statement is attached to
                    employers in Ephesians -- it's in the "transition"
                     verses in Col)

         - the point is -- what Paul said to employees about rewards and
             punishments in Col. 3 is equally true of employers.

             - God will reward those who obey his word in this matter,
                 and punish those who don't.

- another way to look at this subject would be to ask -- How would you
   like it if God treated you the way you treat your employees?

   - that kind of an argument is clearly made in other places in the
   - Do any examples come to mind -- where the Scripture says -- God will
       treat you (in a particular area) the same way as you treat someone

       - Mark 11:25 - And when you stand praying, forgive, if you have
            anything against any, that my Father, who is in heaven, may
            forgive you your trespasses.

       - James 3:13 - For He shall have judgement without mercy, that hat
           shown no mercy.

- thats the same kind of argument being made in Col. 3
     - remember, those of you who have masters----that you have a master,

- cf. Barry Poll trying to get me to pay the guys less so I would have
     more (didn't believe that was right--in the end, God blessed)
    B. Parallel passage

        - we mentioned Eph. 6:9 a moment ago.

        - INPUT - what does this passage add to our discussion?
             (employers should not threaten their employees)

        - INPUT - how might an employer violate this principle?

- now, remember we said a couple of weeks ago that the man who was
   carrying the letter to the Colossians was also carrying another
   book (letter) -- what was it?
     - Philemon

     - who was Philemon?  (wealthy man in Colossian church)
     - who is the book of Philemon about? (Onesimus - his runaway slave)

     - How did Paul know Philemon? (led him to the Lord)
     - How did he know Onesimus (led him to the Lord)

     - read Philemon 8-18

       - let me ask you a question from these verses
           - as a master, was Philemon obligated to forgive Onesimus?

       - but what is Paul appealing to? (the fact that he is a believer)

       - what's the principle (believers are held to a higher standard)
           - that’s a very important principle to remember in this matter
               of employer/employee relationships

               - its not a matter of "what the market will bear"
               - it's not a matter of "what the guy down the street is

               - believers are held to a higher standard

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video