By Becoming an Excellent Testimony at Work

Rob Green September 30, 2018 Titus 2:9-10
Outline

We recognized that if we do not have the proper character and we do not have the proper convictions, then we will not build the right character nor will we build based on the truth.

3 truths to help us have an excellent testimony at work

I. Be Excited About Your Current Job

A. Bondslaves share common ground with modern day employees

B. Remember that living for Christ is better than changing your circumstances

1 Corinthians 7:20-21- Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

 II. Develop Godly Character at Work

A. Submissive to his/her boss

Colossians 3:22-24 - Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  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. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

B. Well pleasing to his/her employer

Romans 12:1 - Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 

2 Corinthians 5:9 - Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

1. Doesn’t this contradict not being “man pleasers”?

2. Should I just seek to please teachers and bosses that are nice?

1 Peter 2:18-19 - Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.

3. Can I take advantage of my boss who is a Christian?

1 Timothy 6:2 - Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.

C. Not argumentative or contentious

D. Not stealing from your employer

E. Demonstrating trustworthiness

III. Proving that the Gospel Changes Lives

verse 10 – …so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect...

A. You are wearing the gospel message

B. It directs the attention to the Savior

C. Seek to do this in every respect

Our annual theme is Being Careful How we build. The words are taken from 1 Corinthians 3 where believers were encouraged to build their lives focused on the Lord and his priorities so that they would receive a reward at the judgment seat of Christ.

We adopted those words as our theme not only because we were building the NCC (thank you for coming out for the grand opening … it is amazing how many people have been in the building since it opened), but because it represents the kind of work that has to take place in our lives and in our families.

Our current series, Building from a Foundation of Grace, is a verse by verse study through the book of Titus. Titus is going to communicate to us that our behavior and our focus on good works to the world around is built on the foundation of the grace of God.

  • It is God’s grace that will motivate you to live consistent with that grace.

Paul sent one of his protégés, Titus, to the island of Crete. It was a tough job because the people were known as liars, evil, and lazy. He sent Titus and told him that he had two primary tasks to accomplish.

  • I want you to set in order what remains
  • I want you to appoint elders in every city
  • Imagine that you were told to go to your job – fire every lazy people and appoint people to leadership positions.
    • People were questioning your authority.
    • It is then that you pull out the orders from the president of your company or the CEO of the corporation.
  • Otherwise the elders would not be able to exhort in sound doctrine or refute those who contradict.
  • Older men are not to be grumpy, irritable, and putting down everyone around them because they lived in the days when men were men and when you walked uphill both ways.
    • Instead, they are to be men who are sound in their faith, loving, consistent, and wise.
  • Older women are not to be boozing it up or gossips.
    • Instead, they are women who teach others what is good and help a younger generation of women invest in their families.
  • The younger need to be mentored. Sowing your wild oats is like giving Satan several years of your life. The reaping process is painful.
    • So young men have to control their tongue, to be wise, and thoughtful.
  • When you contemplate the goodness of God for a few minutes, you are motivated to then go out and live consistent with God’s goodness.
  • If we add your school career (which we should because as long as you are a student … school is your job!), then that number climbs to 125,000+ hours.
  • I am glad that you are awake enough to ask that question. It is an important one.
  • Because it could sound like I am playing loose and fast with the Bible and making it say what I want it to say rather than allowing it say what it does.
  • We have older men just like they did. We have older women just like they did. We have younger men just like they did. Those groups make perfect sense.
  • Bondslave sounds different. What was a bondslave?
  • First, in the Bible bondslave was not a racial comment. Anyone could be a slave regardless of their skin color.
  • Second, some slaves were highly educated and performed very significant societal functions.
  • Third, while some became slaves through war, many sold themselves into slavery for some of the protections that the institution afforded.
  • Fourth, many slaves were able to either earn or buy their freedom.
  • They are bored
  • They believe their skill set is so much higher
  • They believe their boss is a fool and life would be much better if their boss would do what they want.
  • Maybe God cares about what you are doing right now.
  • Maybe that is why he addressed this group of people.
  • I know two men who were in a lab locked up together for months. It was long and tedious work. Yet one man was used by God to win the other to Christ. Both men are now employees of Faith.
    • God might want to accomplish some specific things in your current workplace.
  • To draw closer to Christ because you need his help to respond in a godly way to others who might not respond so well.
  • To point out character flaws that have to be addressed now. Hard jobs are like the refiner’s fire on your character. They reveal your weakness and ways you have to grow. If you take advantage of those character building opportunities, then God may give you new opportunities.
    • If not, you will take those same character problems everywhere you go.
  • I will explain more detail later, but to adorn yourself with the doctrine of God our savior.
  • There may come a time when God gives you the opportunity for a change.
  • In the meantime, followers of Christ should be energized about accomplishing God’s plan in their imperfect work environment.
  • It is the exact same word that is used in the Bible to describe a wife’s submission to her husband...
  • It is used for those in the military term
  • In human relationships, there has to be some kind of chain of command...

That would be a hard job anywhere … but to a group of lazy and evil liars --- are you sure?

Paul gives an extended explanation of his ministry and calling so that Titus has the authority to do what he is asked.

Then we saw that elders had to fulfill certain character qualifications and had to have a strong conviction regarding the truth of God’s word in order to serve in that office.

We recognized that if we do not have the proper character and we do not have the proper convictions, then we will not build the right character nor will we build based on the truth.

Beginning in Titus 2, Paul explains that sound doctrine has very specific implications to the way we live our lives. There is a behavior that is consistent with sound doctrine and there is behavior that is inconsistent with sound doctrine.

It is very clear that the Lord is encouraging his people that sound doctrine is not just sitting in your comfortable chair and contemplating the goodness of God.

Today our task is to consider “Becoming an Excellent Testimony at Work.” With that in mind please turn in your Bibles to Titus 2:9.

As you are turning there I would like to run a couple numbers this morning that might slip a few of you into mourning.

  1. I am going to assume that you began working full time by the time you were 22. You graduated from High School and College and you got busy with your life.
  2. I am going to assume that you will retire at age 67. I realize you might retire before or after that time, but just for arguments’ sake you will retire at age 67.

That means you will have a 45 year career doing something. If we assume that you will work 40 hours every week except for the 2 weeks you have off for vacation each year, then you will spend 90,000 hours at work in your career.

I cannot think of too many subjects that would have more applicability then a passage telling us what a person committed to Christ and sound doctrine does at work.

This is the word of the Lord … Read 2:1-10. I would like us to consider three truths to help us have an excellent testimony at work.

I. Be excited about your current job

This idea joins the historical issues, like the word bondslave, together with the purpose of the passage which is the opportunity we have to adorn or wear the gospel message at work. Let’s get to the details …

A.     Bondslaves share common ground with modern day employees

You could say, “Rob, this passage uses the word ‘bondslave.’ How can you apply this to the concept of work today?”

In the Bible we often see the writers address different segments of the population. In Titus 2 God speaks to the older men, older women, younger men, and bondslaves.

First, bondslaves shared one characteristic that is true of all slaves regardless of time and culture. A bondslave cannot leave on their own terms. They were slaves in the sense that they had to have permission for their freedom.

However, the associations of the word “slave” in our culture are not the same as the associations of bondslave in the first century.

In our day the word slave is normally associated with (1) being sold against one’s will or forced to be a slave; (2) it was along racial lines – those who were black; and (3) a slave’s job required little education and many were not allowed to be educated.

Those associations are not the proper associations when one reads the Bible. There was still ill-treatment and the bondslave could not leave of his/her own accord. However,

These associations are much closer to our modern day workforce. So what God decided to do what help each of us understand that our work would have a very significant role in living out sound doctrine.

B.      Remember that living for Christ is better than changing your circumstances

In other passages Paul will encourage people to seek their freedom. For example …

1 Corinthians 7:20-21 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.

However, neither in 1 Corinthians or here is that the primary focus. In fact, if Paul had spent most of his time talking about the days when this system of bondslavery would be over, then he would not have been addressing the current needs of the people.

Sometimes God tells us that we have to change the culture, sometimes how to serve the culture, and other times how to live Godly lives in the midst of the culture.

Yet there are so many people who are dissatisfied at work.

Some people are always talking about what they are going to do. I am going to get this degree and go work as a ______ and life will be awesome.

Let’s just say that you have a difficult position at work. Let’s assume that you are right and that you have a challenging boss.

Isn’t is possible that God has you right where he wants you?

There is an alternative to thinking about the future. You could get excited about the opportunity you have right now.

God wanted each of us to connect a very important dot. There is a significant connection between sound doctrine and the way you do your job. That is one of the reasons I went back and read all the way from v. 1.

125,000 or so hours of your life will be committed to your workplace. Will you be the grump who complains about his or her work and talks about the day when you are going to do this or that? Or will you be the person who “whistles while you work?” The actual lyrics say “When hearts are high the time will fly so whistle while you work.”

In addition to accepting and being excited about our current job, let’s consider a second way that we can have an excellent testimony at work.

II. Develop Godly Character at Work.

Since work is such a significant part of our life and there is a close connection between the sound doctrine that we believe and the way in which we behave Paul explains 5 characteristics that followers of Christ must develop to be an excellent testimony at work.

A.     Submissive to his/her boss

This concept is found in many places in the Bible.

Submission

  • Has nothing to do with intellect...it’s not that your boss is smarted...maybe he/she is...maybe not...
  • It has nothing to do with intrinsic value as a person...
  • We’re not talking about situations where you’re being asked to specifically displease God – Acts 5:29...we ought to obey God rather than men...
  • That all of us have a stream of rebellion that runs through our hearts
  • We don’t always like to follow leadership
    • Let me speak to all of you in school. You might be in elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or even grad school.
      • Students seem to have all sorts of opinions on what assignments are valuable and which ones are not. Students seem to know how to do things much better than their teachers.
      • There might be some truth to these statements on occasion, but what you need right now is learning to listen, learning to follow directions, and learning how to be submissive even if you personally think your teacher is a descendant of Attila the Hun.
        • When asked for your opinion, you can kindly express your opinion AFTER you have everything you were asked.
  • We don’t always like to listen to somebody else
  • We don’t like to do it somebody else’s way
    • It is very possible that at your job there are multiple ways to get to a similar end... but we choose to do it our boss’ way because that person is our boss.
  • The unbelievers in your workplace might blast the boss. They might explain all the ways this place of employment is worse than the place they just left.
  • But Christians, followers of Christ, committed to sound doctrine are known for their submissiveness.
  • This Christian employee does not need a lot of additional supervision and accountability
  • It is done and it is done to the best of their ability … period.
  • Because you have another boss, a higher boss, who’ll never leave you or forsake you...
  • As a Christian, you are a submissive person whether the boss is present or not
  • Christian employees are supposed to be pleasing employees. They are supposed to be easy to lead and easy to keep motivated, and easy to ensure they are being productive.
  • Not just a matter of doing the bare minimum or just enough to get by … but thinking about how they could take their job to the next level.
  • Having a commitment to excellence without being bogged down by perfectionistic standards.
  • Certainly not being so stubborn that they do the exact opposite of what the boss wants
  • Working at different speeds depending on who is watching.
    • If you have a person who works much better and much faster when being watched then it is clear that they are not focused on the Lord nor are they all that interested in being pleasing to their employer
      • They want to manipulate them into thinking that they are super productive employees.
  • If you are the type of person who has the “C is a degree mentality when you are capable of far more, the work place will not want you unless you change your attitude.”
  • Part of the joy of school is that you have the opportunity to learn to do your best. Turn off your video games and learn to do more than you have to do.
  • But because you understand that sound doctrine in your heart translates into clear and discernable actions by your hands.
  • Absolutely not. It is because we know that sound doctrine in our heart translates into clear and discernable actions by our hands.
  • It was the most boring job in the world. The training was terrible and my boss was amazingly self-absorbed. I think he hired two students just so he could have more direct reports. After a couple months I decided that I had to find something productive to do.
    • So I went into the closet and learned what was then a new way to extract data (it was called SQL). I was playing around with various things (I worked late into the evening) and one day I told my boss what I learned to do. Over the next several weeks he wanted me to create some stuff. I would do whatever programming was necessary and run the reports and put them on his desk. Occasionally, he would ask for something else.
  • One day I was in the president’s office making a delivery for something and I found the reports I created.
    • Turns out he went to a meeting with all the big shots and explained all this work that he had done. 
    • At first, I was like “you dog!”
  • I was never recognized. But God saw it. Through an amazing chain of events gave me a job that I would have never received any other way and those skills I learned have served me well ever since.
  • The issue here is to person who is...argumentative...they are very difficult to talk to, or give direction to...
  • Everyone around them is thinking, “enough already.” It is not because they want the meeting or class to end.
  • It is because they are tired of this pointless argument that is going nowhere.
  • Take office supplies --- in most cases the business would not even know it.
  • Inflate expense reports or mileage reports or per diems
  • They could be lazy and steal through productivity
  • They could use company possessions in ways that the company does not want to use it.
  • I deserve it.
  • The company will not miss it.
  • They don’t pay me what they should.
  • Your hard work should demonstrate to your employers that you are dependable, that they can rely on you accomplishing to task, and if they really need something done that they can trust you to finish the job.
  • Second, that we would exhibit the 5 characteristics of a godly worker (submissive, pleasing, not argumentative, not stealing but showing that you can be trusted). Finally …
  • When a believer functions in this way … they are wearing the doctrine of God our savior.
  • Older women are not belly up at the bar nor are they gossips so that they have the opportunity to teach younger women the skills of life.
  • Younger women live out these skills so that the Word of God will not be dishonored
  • Young men do not live like “boys who can shave,” but rather have a maturity and wisdom about them that even the opponents cannot argue about.
  • We workers have the kind of character and focus at work that we display the gospel in our work.

Instead, submission is willingly placing ourselves under the authority of another. Frankly, we all need this. We have to recognize …

Followers of Christ are to be known for their submission...

Think of the testimony to the boss and other people around you if the boss asks his/her Christian employee to do something...that’s the way it’s going to be done...period...

Paul wrote in Colossians …  

Colossians 3:22-24 - Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  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. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

That is why your boss doesn’t have to be standing over you all the time...

One question you might want to ask yourself …  Does my boss know that I will fulfill my responsibilities even when he/she is not physically present because I want to be in submission?

The second aspect of developing godly character is …

B.      Well pleasing to his/her employer

The word is acceptable or pleasing. It is used in some of our favorite places in the Scripture...

Romans 12:1 - Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 

2 Corinthians 5:9 - Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.

The Bible often uses this word is used to speak about wanting to live in a way that is acceptable to God, in a way that pleases Him.

But now it is being used to speak about the way Christian employees should relate to their employers.

Here are a few more practical ways that we can be pleasing to our employers

Let me speak to the students again …

There is a sermon from Matt Chandler that has received some attention and I want you to listen to 90 seconds. It speaks to men in particular and addresses more than work … but work is a crucial component. Listen in.

[Chandler video]

There is no excuse that a person can put on the table that can allow them to be lazy, just get by kind of student or worker.

  1. Doesn’t this contradict not being “man pleasers”?

It is true that we should not live in the fear of man. It is true that we should not work merely for the praise of men. Colossians 3 made that point perfectly clear. Pleasing men, even our boss, is not our first and primary goal.

However, when a person is this kind of person. When they are exhibiting the characteristics found in this text … and working hard to please God at their place of employment … then they will often be pleasing to their boss.

So listen students … there should be a little part of you (not your primary aim) but a little part of you that ought to want to be a “student of the month,” that ought to want to be on the honor roll,  that ought to want to be the “captain of your team” that ought to want to be the “MVP.” It is not for your glory or for people to think about how awesome you are

The rest of us … we ought to want to earn a promotion, we ought to want to be the employee of the month. Why? So we can become more self-centered and egotistical than we already are?

  1. Should I just seek to please teachers and bosses that are nice?

 

Peter wrote to that issue specifically …

1 Peter 2:18-19 - Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.

If your boss is one of those people who is never satisfied, then you put that in the hands of the Lord and let him figure that out. Sometimes God grants favor in surprising ways.

One of my favorite work stories happened when I was in my final 18 months of my college career. I got a part-time job as tech support for an IBM mainframe for a company that made drainage pipe (some of it was at the NCC).

I can testify first hand that God knows how to reward even if your boss is hard to please.

  1. Can I take advantage of my boss who is a Christian?

1 Timothy 6:2 - Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.

If you have the privilege to work for a Christian boss then you have additional reasons to be pleasing. He/she is not only your boss, but also your fellow believer in Christ charged with the same tasks as you (to be pleasing to their boss).

We have seen the characteristics of submissive and pleasing. The third is …  

C.      Not argumentative or contentious

We are talking about being mouthy....contentious...a difficult person to work with...in some cases just for the sake of being disagreeable....

 

Many bosses have opportunities when it is appropriate for you to share concerns or even disagreements....that is not the point of this section.

 

This person is fairly easy to spot. They are ones in the meeting or in the classroom that talk a ton and do not move the conversation forward.

Four …

D.     Not stealing from your employer

There’s a lot of ways a person can rob his/her employer....

It is often not hard to justify this kind of activity in the mind.

Here is just a little tip. Money will not solve the character issues. If a person is stuck in the cycle where they believe they are mistreated, deserve more, and begin stealing to make up some of the difference, money will not solve that problem.

The raise will work for a short period of time, but eventually the raise will wear off and the person will go back to their old ways.

The final characteristic in Titus 2:9 is

 

E.      Demonstrating trustworthiness

This is similar to being pleasing in that it is obvious that you are a good and faithful worker. Your testimony comes through loud and clear... You are a person that can be trusted.

It is not like God wants you to put on a major show. He does want your doctrine to come out in clear and obvious ways.

I have suggested that if we are going to have an excellent testimony at work that we need to be excited about our current job rather than focus on a freedom or position that we do not have.

III. Proving that the Gospel Changes Lives

In Titus chapter 2 we have seen 4 times that God explains the purpose of what he is saying (so that in vv. 4, 5, 8, and 10). Verse 10 includes the last one …

verse 10 – so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect...

 

A.     You are wearing the gospel message

To adorn or to clothe is the picture. What do you wear when you go to work? Sometimes you might dress up, other times you might go casual, or maybe you have a uniform.

Your life becomes a living testimony of the gospel message itself. 

B.      It directs the attention to the Savior

Living in this fashion directs people to the savior because your life is so evidently transformed, by the way you function at work. Your life says that Jesus is our savior and not only does his forgiveness and redemption offer a future eternity with him, but it offers living transformation for the here and now.

That will open up more opportunities to talk to people about the Redeemer...

 

C.      Seek to do this in every respect.

 

 Friends, as we look at this section of Titus we see that sound doctrine is not just something for the mind. A person who genuinely believes sound doctrine in his or her heart then functions in certain ways in their life.

Each purpose clause connects the behavior back to the theology.

Let me close with three questions …

1)  how would you evaluate yourself in these areas?

 

2)  what needs to get better?

Can you see yourself getting fired up and excited about growing in the way you function as an employee even if your boss, your co-workers, your company never changes?

 

3) do your vocational deficiencies reveal a greater need, that of a personal relationship with Christ?

Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.