The Bare Soul - April 10, 2011
Working for the Lord

Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.

Last week, the United States Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate fell to a two-year low of 8.8%. This is certainly good news for a global economy that has been struggling for years to gain the upper hand on this world-wide recession. Hopefully, better times are ahead when folks can be a bit more choosey about where they work and what benefits they receive. While many Americans, as well as those around the world, are working in less than ideal circumstances regarding their pay and perks, we undoubtedly have it far better than at any time in the history of mankind. Those of us fortunate enough to live in the western world enjoy lifestyles incomparable to many in third-world countries. We are regarded by the majority of the world as rich in comparison. And, indeed, we are. Many of us just don't have the eyes to see this.

During the Christmas season, my wife and I usually watch Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". It is by far one of my favorite movies, probably because it is so redemptive at the end. Of particular interest to our study today is the life of Bob Cratchit, one of the main characters in this morality play. As most of us know, poor Bob was a clerk for Ebenezer Scrooge, a covetous miser of the worst degree. Scrooge paid Cratchit a mere 15 shillings a week, barely enough to provide for his family and certainly not enough to attend to anything else such as medicine for their crippled child, Tiny Tim. Yet, through all this disparity between Scrooge's great wealth and Bob Cratchit's poverty, there was never a happier, more jovial soul than the latter. Bob continually employed the attitude of charity and grace to all those around him. Never, in either the narrative of the book nor in the many screenplays, will you see an ungracious act or hear an unkindly word from this impoverished clerk. Certainly, this man was the epitome of Christian charity. Climaxing his gracious heart toward all, we see the Ghost of Christmas Present allowing Scrooge to witness Bob Cratchit's toast of Ebenezer Scrooge at the Christmas table. Bob raises his glass in honor of the one who provided the food on their table, his boss, Ebenezer Scrooge. Cratchit's wife and children protest that he should not give him an ounce of charity in lieu of the way he is treated. Even Scrooge, by this time beginning to see the error of his ways, agrees with the family to his ghostly guide that he is unworthy of such praise. However, Bob Cratchit does a remarkable thing. He disregards everyone's advice and holds true to his Christian love within in his own heart ... to love all, to bless those who despitefully use you, and to pray (or to praise, as in this case) for one's enemies (Matthew 5:44). As he insists to hold Scrooge in a high regard, the family acquiesces and joins him in the salute, albeit somewhat grudgingly.

How often we can set the attitude of others by our own insistence to do the next right thing? In this case, for Bob Cratchit, it was blessing a miserly, unreasonable boss. It would have been easy to take the "low road" and to curse Ebenezer Scrooge along with the rest of London. However, this fictitious character Mr. Cratchit lived by a different set of principles, as so shown by Mr. Dickens. Undoubtedly, this was  a Christian family as they referenced the scripture and their love for the Lord in several instances. Bob Cratchit was merely a doer of the word and not a hearer only. If indeed this was a real person in Victorian London, it might be safe to say that he knew the Lord not in word only, but also in deed. Possibly if there ever was a person like Mr. Cratchit that Mr. Dickens created, then maybe he read the following verse from the book of Colossians: Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord (Colossians 3:22). While we don't have slaves, per se, in our westernized world today, many sometimes "feel" they are slaves because they live under the negativity of their own thoughts and actions towards their bosses. Attitudes such as this inevitably make them a prisoner to their own misgivings. They seek vainly by their own attempts to redeem themselves from their seemingly unjust situation, rather than looking at that person they work for in a different way. Paul tells us that we are to regard our work as being done for the Lord and not for man. We must rise above our petty feelings of injustice and become those who work with cheerfulness for the Lord. You say, "That's impossible! I could never work that way for my boss! You don't know what they've done, how they've been so unfair in so many instances!" You're right. It is impossible. It's impossible to live as a servant to the Lord rather as a slave to our employer unless we have that attitude that we see exemplified in Bob Cratchit. He had learned the secret of doing his work for a Heavenly Employer rather than a cruel taskmaster on earth. He surrendered his own misgivings for the giving of Christ's love which he thereby accepted into his heart.

Possibly, God will not redeem those of us who struggle with our jobs and our employers like Bob Cratchit. The miracle may only come for us and not for that supposed "Scrooge" in our lives. The miracle of whom we work for, either a Just Lord or an unjust taskmaster, can be our choice as we give them to God and believe He can give us a heart of love and respect as He did for Bob Cratchit. Whether or not our bosses' see the difference and a great epiphany happens to them is yet to be seen. However, the miracle and the change in us will be extraordinary and divine if we will give ourselves to it in a place of surrender to to the Lord. Shall we be Christ's servant or man's slave? The choice is ours, beloved.

Heavenly Father, help us to do our work for You, no matter what the job before us. Help us to regard those over us as those You've appointed. Give us hearts of gratitude for our employment as we seek to glorify You through our daily tasks. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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