Table of Duties
CERTAIN PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE FOR VARIOUS HOLY ORDERS AND POSITIONS, ADMONISHING THEM ABOUT THEIR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
To Workers of All Kinds
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. [Eph. 6:5-8]
In this passage, as with the following one from Ephesians 6.9 dealing with “Masters” – Employers – both those who are in the role of servant and master are summoned to live in healthy fear and in joyful trembling before the face of God. As with husbands and wives and children, workers and employers are to see in each other that the other is a blessing from the hand of a gracious God.
For the worker, whether household slave of the ancient world, indentured servant, or modern paid employee, his work is not ultimately just for the employer/master. It is to work for Christ Himself, and to see your reward for your good work as being from Christ. And it is to see that this work and the wages earned are how Christ provides the daily bread willed for us from Our Father in heaven, bread for the worker and the family God has entrusted to him.
On the other hand, Luther in his Large Catechism has a lot to say on workers doing honest work in his commentary on the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not steal” – you are to help your neighbor “improve and protect” his property and income, or livelihood. This is to “obey… with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart…” Luther lists this as a sin for servants: treating entrusted property carelessly and thoughtlessly. Do not neglect and waste the goods of your employer, do not be an employee who is paid properly but robs his employer by “repaying” him with bad or shoddy work. Our holy and zealous God watches over our human community, especially the economic sphere, and protects the possessions of our neighbor against infringements of our greed, both by having the Law preached to us, and by the enforcement of civil law by the appointed government.