“Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” (Ephesians 6:9 (ESV)
Many of us, even as believers in Christ, probably make better employees than we do employers. The responsibilities for our own work is often much easier than having to be ultimately responsible for the work performance and work ethic of others.
Being an employer can be frustrating when workers do not want to work but want to be paid for non-working. As one boss recently said, “I don’t pay people to stand around.”
What should be the biblical attitude of a Christian boss, or employer, in their relationship with their employees? Should it be any different from that of non-Christians? The Apostle Paul turns his attention to masters, or employers, in today’s text from Ephesians.
“Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening.” The word masters (κύριος; kurios) means owner, ruler or lord. It is the same word used when referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the immediate context, Paul was specifically referring to earthly slave masters, but his attention is equally applicable to today’s employers.
The phrase do the same to them (ποιέω αὐτός; poieo autos) is a present active imperative command from God. Employees are to obey, respect, be sincere, not be people-pleasers, are to do the will of God from the heart, and render service unto God and not primarily to man (Ephesians 6:5-8). Employers are to do the same with respect to their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, especially in their treatment of their employees. Paul states that the Master of slaves and employees is the same Lord of slave owners or employers.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Masters were to treat their slaves in the same way, that is, to please the Lord in their dealings with them. Slaves owners were not to keep threatening them but to treat them justly and fairly (cf. Col. 4:1; James 5:4) because they themselves were servants, with a Master who is an example to them. This, of course, is the Lord and He is the Master over both earthly masters and slaves. He shows no partiality, regardless of one’s rank (cf. Eph. 6:8).”
Employers are also to stop your threatening (ἀνίημι ἀπειλή; aniemi apeile). This means to forsake the verbal warning of doing someone harm. Christian employers are not to formally and verbally make threats to their workers.
Dr. R. C. Sproul adds that, “Christian leaders may warn those in their charge of the potential consequences of their actions, but leaders should also show grace to those laborers under them, encouraging their volunteers, staff members, and so forth. They have the same Lord as the Christians whom they supervise; consequently, they must lead by example, setting high but not impossible standards, and, insofar as they are able, they must endeavor to make it easy for others to serve them gladly.”
President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower once observed that “leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
An employee’s work is often hard. An employer’s work is often much harder. Let each of us, regardless of our status and responsibilities, pray and encourage each other by having a biblical work ethic. Have a blessed day at work.
Soli deo Gloria!