The Respectful Employee – 1 Peter 2:18-25 – Pastor Eric
Do you think respect must be earned? We might easily answer this question by saying, “Of course, respect must be earned!” We believe this, because it is what the world teaches us. In our American individualistic culture, we have been conditioned to believe that you earn everything in this life even love and especially respect. We also believe this, because we live in a world full of disrespect, where people are hungry for respect like never before. So, we come to believe you must earn my respect.
Scripture challenges our culture and our perspectives on this topic of respect. We are challenged to see as Christians that we can give respect freely and without conditions, because we have been given the highest respect by God even when we didn’t deserve it. So, we ask, how is a Christian to work in a world of full of disrespect? How is a Christian to show respect even when it is not given?
Truth #1 - The respectful worker strives to do the right thing for the glory of God, not the man. The Christian’s goal is not to please one’s earthly authority, but to please God, who is the supreme authority. The Christian shows respect to others by doing the right thing and the responsible thing for God’s honor. (1 Peter 2:18-20) The Apostle Peter informs the believer, the Christian employee, to be subject to their masters with all respect. We are placed there under our earthly authorities by God’s authority. Peter makes it clear not only to the good ones, but the bad ones too.
So, Peter exhorts the Christian worker by saying, then be mindful of God and have a godly perspective, so that you don’t sin. Don’t respond with anger, retaliation, or slander. For it does nothing to gossip or bad mouth the other person. It does nothing to insult them. Because when you choose not to respect people, and you disrespect someone, then you rob them of their God given dignity. You take away the fact that they are made in the image of God. You put yourself above them. Thus, you rob God of His glory. You sin!
Peter says instead, “But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” You can respect the other person by doing what is the right thing for them and for God. This is how a Christian is to handle disrespect by honoring people with the goodness of God, which means to work with honesty and integrity even calling out sin, abuse, or mistreatment. As a Christian, we live for a higher standard in life and for a higher authority, Jesus Christ.
Let us then be change agents in this world, where we can help to raise the levels of righteousness and respect in a world full of disrespect. Let us not shrink back into our cubicles, but let us stand firm on the solid rock of Christ to respect people with dignity and grace. Let us honor others, because we have been given highest honor to serve our God.
Truth #2 - The respectful worker sacrifices self for the sake of the gospel. Our work has a kingdom purpose beyond any earthly right or privilege. Our respectful work bears witness to the gospel even at the sacrifice of ourselves at times.
(1 Peter 2:21-25)
Peter doesn’t give you a soft and gentle perspective of the Christian life. Peter is upfront that the Christian life and calling of the Christian will include suffering, sacrifice, and self-denial. This is the way of the Christian, because suffering was the way of Jesus. That’s exactly what Jesus did, and that’s exactly the life He walked. Jesus committed no sin. He was perfectly 100% innocent. He didn’t do a single thing wrong, but He was scorned, mocked, and crucified. Yet, Jesus never spoke a bad word. He never disrespected another person. He called out evil for what it was, but never in sin.
Rather Jesus did the opposite, He choose these words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” It is mind blowing! Rather than talking back, Jesus used words of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, because He understood His mission. Jesus knew exactly what He came to do on this earth to die for ugly, disrespectful, and hideous sinners. Jesus know that His Father was going to judge people justly and accordingly to either His sacrifice or His Father’s eternal judgment. So, Jesus entrusted Himself into the Father’s sovereign Hands, because He knew His Father was going to render His perfect and righteous judgment for all.
We too can resist the temptation to fight back, to talk back, and ridicule someone else, because we can entrust ourselves into the Sovereign plan of God. As believers, the sovereignty of God becomes one of the most vital and crucial doctrines of our faith. We can’t live without the sovereignty of God. There is no way around it.
The great theologian Charles Surgeon said it this way, “When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head on.”
God secures us both now and for an eternity. God cares for us even in the worst persecution, suffering, and disrespect. So that no person, no word, or no action can crush us, because we are held firm in the arms of the Guardian and the Savior, Jesus Christ. Know this, God has a hold of you, and He will never let go of you!!! No matter the hurt, no matter the pain, and no matter the suffering, the Shepherd has you in His loving arms.
As we jump back into a world full of disrespect on Monday morning, a world full of prejudice, sexism, racism, and persecution, but our next step can change that broken world. Our next step of love and forgiveness can soften a hurting heart. Our next step of goodness and respect can alter a life eternity. This is not for our honor or respect, but for the honor and the respect of the one true authority, Jesus Christ.
Let us remember to never forget the gospel, let us remember we never deserved any respect or notice from God as disrespectful sinners. Yet, we’ve been given the highest respect from God, a crown of life and eternal salvation, so that we might respectfully give others respect for the sake of the gospel even at the cost of ourselves.
All Creatures of our God and King, Reign in Us, From the Inside Out, Doxology
We welcome our supported missionary family, Daryl, Sun and Hannah Young, serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Cameroon, Africa. Abby and Caleb are off at college and were not able to be with us. This is SanLo’s 19th partnership year with the Youngs. Daryl pilots a single engine fixed wing plane, transporting missionary workers over the difficult distances to travel by ground. Wycliffe’s challenge is to translate the Bible into languages that have yet to be translated. Sun teaches missionary children so their parents can stay in the field serving. Please pray for security as there is political unrest in the area now. Pray for the Youngs as their family is in transition with two in CA colleges as they return to Cameroon in May.