Bosses & Workers
Having worked in Scottish shipyards and Canadian railyards I am personally aware of the tensions that sometimes arise between bosses and workers. Try being on strike and on outdoor picket duty during a Winnipeg winter! Why the tension? Isn’t it usually because either or both contracting parties are (perceived) to be failing to uphold their end of the bargain? Unlike the Egyptians demanding the Israelites “make bricks without straw” debacle, which was slavery, bosses and workers in Western nations are obligated to fulfil the terms and conditions of their agreements. Sometimes bosses lock out workers and sometimes workers go on strike in times of failure. Right, what does the Bible have to say? First off, we should note that ‘work’ is not a curse. Even before the Fall God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden ‘to work it and take care of it’ (Genesis 2:15). Sure, after Adam rebelled against God we would ‘through painful toil’ and ‘by the sweat of our brow eat our food’ (Genesis 3:17&19). However, ‘The worker deserves his wages’ 1 Timothy 5:18.
For the Christian (and indeed for all mankind) God is the Boss and we are His workers. He has given us a contract with terms and conditions. One of the places the terms and conditions are spelled out is in the much neglected 4th Commandment: ‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy’ Exodus 20:9-11. Sure, people have disputed with the Boss over His Commandment, (e.g., over which day, and whether Christians should keep it at all!). However, surely we can see the principle that the Boss wants us to work six days and rest (i.e., sabbath) with Him by setting one day a week apart from the others – just as He did on Creation week. God is telling us to rest. He’s the Boss! We are the workers. As a Christian minister I have been accused of breaking the Christian Sabbath by working on it (e.g., preaching etc.). This is to completely miss the Boss’s terms and conditions. Works of mercy and necessity permitted, such as cooking meals and helping donkeys out of ditches etc. It’s as Jesus says, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ Mark 2:27. Why go on strike by becoming either legalistic or antinomian about the Sabbath? Why picket at the gates of the Garden of Eden? Why not accept the fact that God wants you to have one day off every seven? And by the way, this doesn’t mean that you have to work in the factory six days a week. Grocery shopping, doing the laundry on Saturday is still work. We’re to do everything, even work, to God's glory.
So, bosses ought to emulate God and reward the labours of their workers. And workers ought to emulate God by being worthy of their wages. And both bosses and workers ought to emulate God and have a day of rest. Don’t be wicked, for you know the old saying. ‘There is no rest for the wicked’ (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21). But don’t think you can earn Heaven. For the Boss says, ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Romans 6:23. Gracious Boss!