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Respecting the Unreasonable

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1 Peter 2:18-20

3693 Seated Next To Butcher

In the Talmud, the rabbis tell of the time when …

Rabbi Joshia, a pious teacher of the Law, was sleeping. A voice came to him in a dream. “Joshia, rejoice! It had been decided that you shall sit next to Nenes the Butcher in Paradise.”

Rabbi Joshia awoke in tears. “How terrible! So this is to be my reward for a lifetime in the Lord’s service. I have not ceased to study the Torah. I have enlightened 80 disciples. Yet, I am reckoned to be no better than Nenes the Butcher. Rabbi Joshia vowed not to return to the House of Study until he had found Nenes the Butcher and discover what was behind this startling revelation.

After searching through many towns, Rabbi Joshia finally came to the small village in which Nenes lived. When he asked about Nenes the Butcher, the people were surprised. “How is it that a learned and eminent man like you should come searching for such an ignorant and insignificant person?” But he persisted in questioning “What sort of man is this Nenes the Butcher?” They replied that there was nothing to tell. “You must see him for yourself.”

Messengers were sent to the house of Nenes. “No,” replied the Butcher, “a great man such as Rabbi Joshia would not want to see me. You must be mocking me. I cannot come with you.”

Greatly embarrassed, the messengers returned to tell Rabbi Joshia what Nenes had said. “But I have vowed not to set foot again in the House of Study until I have talked with Nenes the Butcher. If he will not come to me, I shall go to him.”

Nenes the Butcher was frightened when he saw him approaching. “Why do you wish to see me?” “I must ask you a question—what good have you done in your life?”

“I am no one of importance. I am just an ordinary butcher. I have no time for study or for performing good deeds, I work hard to make enough money so that I can care for my weak and aged mother and father.”

When he heard this, Rabbi Joshia embraced him and kissed him on the forehead. “Blessed are you, my son, and blessed are your deeds. I am exceedingly happy that I have been considered worthy of being your companion in Paradise.” – Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations

Sometimes people think that our occupation is meaningless especially if we are stuck doing something that we don't like and if we work for someone who is difficult to work for. It is not what work you do but how you do it and for whom you do it that makes it pleasing to God. Our work can be meaningful and sacred to God if we follow His instructions. Today we will learn to respect even the most unreasonable employers and how it elevates our work to a spiritual plane and gives glory to our precious Savior.

I. Who We Should Respect (18)

The particular Greek word translated “servants” indicates that these were household slaves. They were Christian slaves serving for the most part in the homes of pagan masters. The fact that Peter singles them out for special admonitions indicates that slaves, as a class, formed a large part of the early Christian community. Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Pe 2:18). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

A. Good Superiors

Good = morally upright, honorable, having your benefit in mind.

Gentile = fair, patient.

1 Timothy 6:2

[Eliezer's service to Abraham in finding a wife for Isaac.]

B. Unreasonable Superiors

Unreasonable = crooked, unfair, perverse, dominating. Think of what this would have meant for the slaves that Peter was speaking to. Here were Christian slaves who were serving pagan Roman masters who hated them because they were followers of Christ but these masters also didn't want to sell these Christian slaves because they knew that they could trust them. These slaves had to walk a fine line of obedience to their masters without compromising the righteousness of the Lord Jesus.

We too as employees might find ourselves working for athiests, cult members, pagans, or even people who think they are Christians. We must respect them even if they are crooked, perverse, or dominating. What does this mean? This means that you do what your boss tells you to do the way he or she tells you to do it, unless it directly goes against God's written commands in His word. if you have a problem with your boss you don't talk about how horible they are to other employees. You don't joke about them. You don't complain about how unreasonable they are, or how you could do a a better job if you were in their position. If your boss does something that is against the company rules, then by all means you should confront the infraction through the proper channels but it should always be done with humility as a inferior to a superior. You also must keep your heart in check so that you don't find yourself thinking evil thoughts about your boss.

1 Corinthians 7:21

II. When We Should Respect Them (19-20)

A. When We Suffer for Our Faults

If a slave made a mistake he should be expected to be punished for it especially if his master was a dominating sort.

Likewise, when we fail to do our jobs properly, our superiors have the right and responsibility to point out our mistakes and may even make us "suffer" for it by docking pay, sending us home early from work, an extended leave, demotion, or even a reduction in salery. [Michael Vick]

Peter says, "what credit is there if you endure under these cercumstances"? And the obvious answer is none. That is the natural consequence for our actions and we should endure those consequenses with patience. Even those in the world can do that.

But...

B. When We Suffer for Our Lord.

How would a slave suffer for the Lord? Some slaves were put into positions where they were commanded to do something that would directly contradict the righteous character of our Lord Jesus as revealed in the Bible.

These slaves may also have been subject to masters who belittle them and treat them harshly just because the were believers in Jesus. They might get the most difficult jobs in the household, or have to work longer hours than the other slaves, or recieve less food than other slaves, just becuase their masters didn't like them or their Christian God.

[Joseph suffering because Potipher's wife wrongly accused him.]

Modern employees will sometimes be persecuted for their faith in different ways. It may take the form of not getting a raise even when you deserve it. It may be a boss that demands that you work extra hours that will interfere with your family or church responsibilities. They may make fun of believers and promote a work atmosphere where others employees are encouraged to look down on you for your faith. They may even blame you for something that you didn't do. Whatever the circumstance we as followers of Jesus are to patiently endure it, not returning evil for evil to anyone.

III. Why We Should Respect Them (19)

  • "For this finds favor with God"
  • We will be Rewarded by God
    Ephesians 6:5-8
  • It is a testimony to the character of God
    Titus 2:9-10
    patient endurance can be described as: “the odor that flowers breathe when they are trampled upon.”

Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations

We also as employees must work for our employers as we would for the Lord Jesus Christ. We can't choose to be good employees based on whether we like our employers or whether they deserve our respect. We must choose to be good employees because we are working for our Lord Jesus; He is worthy of our respect and He is worthy of our diligent work.

Colossians 3:22-25

3489 Job Wasn’t Big Enough

The Standard Oil Company was making preparations to establish itself in Indonesia. Company executives were seeking a manager for their Indonesian operations. They were informed that the man best qualified for the place was a certain missionary. The company approached the missionary in reference to his availability for the position. Their offer was large: $30,000 yearly. The missionary declined. Those seeking his service raised the offer. Still he declined. Finally they said, “Just name your salary. We’ll pay it if the salary we have named isn’t large enough.”

“Oh,” replied he, “the salary is big enough, but the job isn’t big enough!”

—Al Bryant

Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations

What a good attitude to have! God had called him to missionary work, not oil work and he would have made a terrible oil man because of it. But what if God has called you to oil work? Then you will make an awful missionary. We are to be doing what God has called us to do. If God has called you to the work that you are doing, no matter what it is, then He has a purpose for you in that job and there is no job on the earth that is more important to God for you than what you are doing. This also means that God has placed you under those who are your superiors. You may think that you are in your job to make money, and that certainly is a benefit, but He has more eternal reasons that are far more important than the salary that you make. He wants to display His glory through you to your fellow workers, your bosses, custormers, and who knows who else! Pleasing the Lord Jesus is our motive for working; not a paycheck, not respect, not advancement, good retirement package, 401K plan, profit sharing or anything else, just Jesus. Pastor's joke about the fact that being a pastor doesn't pay much but that the benefits are out of this world, but the same is true for anyone who is obeying God's calling in their work, no matter what occupation you have, it is a sacred occupation and the work is sacred work with benefits that truly are out of this world. Will you commit today that when you go back to work on Monday that you will work as if Jesus is your boss, for ultimately, He is!

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