Colossians gives us a picture of God’s standard for work. As employees, we serve our employers with integrity, giving a full measure of work for the wages we are paid (Col. 3:23). As supervisors, we treat those under us as God treats us—with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col. 3:12). God intends that our work be done in reciprocal relationships, in which each party contributes to, and benefits from, the overall work. But even if the other parties fail in their reciprocal duty, Christians fulfill their obligations (Col. 3:22–4:1). Following Jesus’ example, we offer forgiveness in the face of conflict (Col. 1:13) and we lay aside our power when necessary for the good of others (Col. 1:20). This does not mean we lack rigorous standards or accountability, or that Christians in business and other workplaces cannot compete vigorously and successfully. It does mean that we offer forgiveness. It does mean that Christians cannot always go along with what their workplace culture deems acceptable (Col. 3:1–3), particularly if it would lead to unfair or unjust treatment of a co-worker or employee (Col. 4:1). We see this illustrated in the case of Onesimus and Philemon. Whatever our work, we strive for excellence, for we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, not merely for human masters, knowing that we will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward (Col. 3:23–24).
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