Our Attitude Towards Work

It is to God's glory if we suffer for doing good while at work. Let God work out the problems we may face when working with others.

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:17, Acts 4


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? You know, when I give that little corny greeting, which is now I guess become kind of a trademark, people expect me to, to use it even when I’m speaking in churches and other meetings. (Laughs) How in the world are you? Oh they like that. But you know, when I use that greeting, I have in my mind, photographs of many of you on the wall of memory; dear, dear people who have become part of my own life and experience. And so you may be sure that I’m thinking of you when I say, “How in the world are you?”

You don’t get much inspiration talking into a piece of hardware, the microphone. But oh, what an impact it makes when I think of those precious folk now by the hundreds, and maybe up into the thousands, that I’ve met during many years of ministry. And I do care how you are, bless your heart. I hope it’s a good day for you. Or if you’re just finishing the day, as many of you are, I hope you’ll have a restful night. And if you fall asleep while I’m talking, don’t worry. I’ve spoken in many people’s sleep. (Laughs) Go right ahead, God bless you. Thanks for being there.

We talked about, “Honor the King.” And then servants, if you’re a domestic in the house — is the word that Peter uses here doulos. If you’re a, a domestic in the house, if you’re a servant… And we broadened the expression to mean ‘employees in our days because we don’t have slaves as such, do we? “Employees, be subject to your boss, with all fear.” And that’s the idea of respect and awe. Not only to the good and gentle boss, but also to the froward boss. That word ‘froward’ means ‘impossible’, ‘cranky’, ‘crabby’, ‘critical’, ‘can’t be satisfied’, everything’s always wrong’, ‘why didn’t you do it better’, and ‘why don’t you do more’ — that’s ‘froward’, all right?

Are you working for that kind of a person perhaps? They do exist in this world. I’ve seen and, and had experiences with some of them. There are people whom you absolutely cannot please it would seem. And you think to yourself, “There must be an easier way to die, let me get outta here!” Well it may be that God in His wisdom will give you another position somewhere. Pray about your job, God has ways of doing things.

It may also be that God wants you to be where you are as a witness to His grace, had you thought of that? “Commit thy work unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established,” the Bible says. And I’ve often told people who were upset with their jobs, “Pray about your job and God will change your attitudes and your feelings toward it.” I’ve had letters back from people who did that very thing and found out that the changed attitude was reflected in a changed relationship with the boss whom they had despised. So pray about your job and you’ll find that God is changing your own thoughts and attitudes God-ward, even under the pressures of a froward, impossible boss. “Be subject to your masters, not only the good and gentle, but also to the ‘froward’. For this is thankworthy.

I’ll stop here just long enough to remind myself of what a, a doctor said to me many years ago when I was still pastoring in Philadelphia. That would be back in the 1930’s — the late 1930’s. And I was visiting a patient in a mental hospital near Philadelphia. And I was talking with the, with the physician in-charge. He had a moment and he sat down. He felt like chatting with somebody, and so we talked for a moment. And I said, “Would you, would you say that there’s any one overriding cause why many of your patients are here?” “Well,” he said, “for one thing, lot of folk go through life expecting to be appreciated, and they aren’t.” And he said, “That has contributed to their condition as they arrive here. Nobody seems to appreciate them.”

And said the other reason that, that crops up is that they try to be true to two sets of ideals at once. And he, he spoke of the patient that I had been visiting. He said, “That’s what’s wrong with your young man there. He just tried to be true to two sets of ideals at once, and it wouldn’t work. And his mind got sick with the pressure of it.” That’s what he said. I’m not a physician, and I can’t verify whether or not he was correct, although I suspect he was.

But you, you aren’t going to get thanked by people. This is what this all grew out of — thankworthy. You’re not going to get thanked by people every time you think you should be. And if you go through life reaching for appreciation, you will have an underlying malaise and a sense of ‘nobody really appreciates how hard I work’ feeling that certainly won’t contribute either to your happiness or to the glory of God.

Have you ever had anybody say, “I hope you appreciate that I did this for you.”? How did you feel? (Laughs) You felt in your soul, “I wish you hadn’t bothered.” (Laughs) Isn’t it true? If you go through life constantly reaching for appreciation, not only will you be disappointed, but it will produce a, a negative effect in your own personality which, which telegraphs itself unfortunately, to other people in societal relationships. Do watch out for that, shall we?

“This is thankworthy, he said, “if a man for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully…” Because I serve God, I’m not going to explode. Because I’m serving God, I’m going to let Him handle this situation. I’m not going to go back and try to correct people. Now I’ve lived long enough and been in positions of responsibility long enough to be the recipient of backhanded criticisms from people for whatever reason. And always when I hear something, particularly that might blame me for something that happened years ago, you know, that my tendency is that I’ll call that guy up and straighten him out. (Laughs) You know that’s the first, that’s the first impulse.

Well then if I have the sense to pray about it, the gentle spirit of God reminds me, says, “Don’t do that. You don’t have to do that. Vengeance is mine. I will repay,” said the Lord. Let God straighten it out. And so in times when I’ve had the good sense to pray about some of these things that ruffled me, God has kept my mouth shut — hallelujah. (Laughs) And the time went on, and lo and behold, things straightened themselves out. And the, the, the criticism that I thought was unjust gets reversed, and the truth comes out.

That’s happened more than once — it took 20 years in one case. But God works, give Him time. Give God time with people and your relationships with them. “This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God…” See, you’re dealing with God, not with other people or with your feelings. What other people say and do and how I feel about it, has to be secondary to the fact that I belong to God. “We are His witnesses,” said Peter. Even under the threat of death there in that story you’ll find in Acts 4. We are His witnesses. We belong to Him. “Whether it be right in the sight of God to harken unto you more than unto god, you have to be the judge of that. We can’t but speak the things we’ve seen and heard. We, we’re, we belong to God.

That was Peter. And so he’s reflecting that here, now. Incidentally, what a change from Peter the, the, the blusterer and the blow hard, and the, and the blurter, huh? Peter answered and said, — you find that through the Gospel records. Nobody ever asked him anything, but he answered and said, always speaking up. Well, he’d learned his lesson evidently and the, the gentle Spirit of God had worked in his heart since Pentecost. And so he said, “This is thankworthy.”

You’re dealing with God. Even though you’re under pressure, even though you’re criticized, even though you’re suffering, he says, “Wrongfully…” I don’t deserve this! Well, all right, let’s agree you don’t. So what. You’re working for God. Does He know about it? Yes. Has He forgotten about you? No. Is He going to work in the future to straighten things out? Yes. If you stay sweet under pressure, God changes people around you. You want to remember that, beloved? If you stay sweet under pressure, God changes people around you.

Dick Hillis, a good friend of mine through the years, told this story in my hearing, about a time when he was traveling up in the mountains of what they then called Formosa. It’s now of course Taiwan. And he didn’t know the… he was adept of course in, in Mandarin, spoke it as though he had been born in China — very fine linguist. But he didn’t know the mountain dialects. And he wanted to evangelize up in the mountains, out in the back country.

So it was that he found someone who knew the mountain dialect and also knew Mandarin. And he engaged this man as his interpreter. He said he did so with a good deal of trepidation because he wasn’t at all sure that the man was a Christian. But he wanted to get the, the message out. And so he hired him to go along with him and interpret his message. Well, they went from place to place, and enjoyed a degree of success. Many times they had very rough accommodations or no accommodations at all. But still they kept on day after day, preaching the Gospel in the different villages, and to the farmers in the countryside up in the mountains.

One day this man concerning whom my brother Hillis had, had great doubt about his Christianity, this man said to Dr. Hillis, “I am now a Christian. My god is your god. My Savior is your Savior.” Oh he was delighted. He said, “Oh that’s wonderful. When did this occur?” He said, “Do you remember a while back when we got to such-and-such a village? It was just at nightfall and we had no place to stay.” “Yes,” he said, “I remember.” Well he said, “You remember we went from one place to another and, and, and finally we found a farmer who said, ‘You can sleep in our barn.’?” “Yes,” he said, “I remember.” “You remember it got cold during the night?” “Oh yeah,” he said, “I remember.” “Do you remember we had just one blanket between us, your blanket.” “Yes,” Dick Hillis said, “I remember. My blanket was the only thing we had.” He said, “Do you remember that when we woke up I had the blanket and you were shivering with cold? And Hillis laughed. He said, “Yes, I remember.” He said, “That’s when I became a Christian.” “Why, why was that?” He said, “Because I had your blanket and you were frozen, and you didn’t even get mad.”

Patient under pressure, the little pressures of everyday life, the things that irritate and nick you, the little abrasions of interpersonal relationships. Patience. This is thankworthy. God is going to thank you some day for being patient under pressure because you love Him.

Dear Father, today make us patient under pressure. Help us to honor the God whom we love so that some day when we see You we’ll be able to say ‘thank you’. In Jesus name. Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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