August 13, 2017 – Ephesians 6:5-9
Lesson Date: August 13, 2017
Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 6:5-9
AIM: To lead students to discover the Bible’s instructions for Christian employees and employers, and to confess any sins in those areas and make commitments to be the very best Christian employees or employers possible.
Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 6:5-9 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the following scripture references on index cards or small pieces of paper: Colossians 3:23; Colossians 4:1; 1 Peter 2:18. Ask some class members who are comfortable reading aloud to look up the verses and be prepared to read them to the class when called upon. Enlist one of your class members to do a role-playing activity in which they complain about their job and their boss. The student can use the story of Greg on page 40 of the Sunday School Member Quarterly as a source of ideas for their “complaints.” Be sure they let it be known that they do as little work as possible, unless their boss is watching. When the boss is around, however, he or she is a model employee.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Have the previously enlisted class member launch into a tirade of complaints about his or her boss and job. When he or she finishes, ask the students if they’ve ever heard a fellow employee speak like that. Ask if they have ever complained like that.
Tell the class in today’s lesson they will discover the Bible’s instructions for how Christian employees and employers should behave at work.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of Ephesians. Locate Ephesus on the map.
- Remind them that chapters 1, 2, and 3 are primarily doctrinal, while chapters 4, 5, and 6 contain very practical instructions for living the Christian life.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (God’s instructions for Christian parents and children).
- Ask if any volunteers would be willing to recite last week’s memory verses (Eph. 6:1 and Eph. 6:4).
- Remind the students that the foundation for the last several lessons is the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), which enables us to submit to one another in the fear of God (Eph. 5:21).
- That is the only way wives can truly submit, husbands can truly love, children can truly obey, and parents can truly nurture their children.
- Christian Employees Should Obey their Employers.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 6:5.
- Explain to the students that slaves, bondservants, and hired servants were common in ancient times. The best modern-day application whenever the Bible speaks of “servants” or “slaves” is to substitute the word employees. The best modern-day application for the word “masters” is employers, bosses, or supervisors.
- Ask: “According to this verse, what are employees supposed to do?” (obey their earthy masters).
- Tell the class the rest of the verse describes how Christian employees should obey their employers or supervisors.
- Ask them what they think “fear and trembling” means (reverence and respect).
- Ask them what they think “singleness of heart” means (giving single-minded devotion and attention to doing a good job).
- Ask them what they think “as unto Christ” means (serve your employer just as you would serve the Lord Jesus Christ).
- Ask: “Are you this kind of employee?”
- This is the standard expected of Christian
- Tell the class that it is a shame and disgrace for a Christian employee to be anything less that respectful toward his or her boss, or to be a lazy and unproductive worker.
- Ask: “Do you think this instruction only applies if the employer or supervisor is a Christian?”
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read 1 Peter 2:18.
- Explain that the word froward means cruel, harsh, overbearing, unjust and unreasonable.
- Ask: “Are Christian employees only required to be obedient and respectful if their boss is good to them?” (no, the Bible requires that they serve both good and bad employers in the same way).
- How and Why Christian Employees Should Obey.
- Tell the class verse 5 clearly commands Christian employees to obey their employers. Verses 6-8 explain more about how and why they should do this.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 6:6.
- Ask: “What does this verse reveal about how Christian employees should NOT work?” (with eye service).
- Ask the students what they think “eye service” means (only working diligently when the boss is watching or only doing so to make yourself look good in hopes of receiving praise, promotion, or pay increases).
- Ask: “When we work at our secular employment, who are we actually serving?” (Jesus Christ).
- To reinforce this point, ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Colossians 3:23.
- Referring back to verse 6, ask the students what they think “doing the will of God from the heart” means (doing it whole-heartedly, with all their heart).
- Read Ephesians 6:7.
- Ask: “Who does this verse say we are serving?” (the Lord, not men)
- Explain that we don’t really serve our earthly employer. Regardless of how bad our earthly boss might be, our Heavenly boss is righteous, true, honest, and treats us better than any human being ever could. Remembering this fact will make us better employees.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 6:8.
- Tell the class this verse says if we do a good job we will receive a reward.
- Ask: “From whom will we receive that reward?” (the Lord).
- Review verses 5-8 by asking the following questions.
- “What does the last phrase of verse 5 say about how Christian employees should serve?” (just as you would serve Christ).
- “According to verse 6, whose servants are Christian employees?” (Christ’s).
- “According to verse 7, who are Christian employees actually serving?” (the Lord).
- “According to verse 8, who will reward the faithful Christian employee?” (the Lord).
- Those verses tell us three times that as Christian employees we are actually serving our Lord. In response, the Lord will reward us for our faithful service. We shouldn’t work to receive praise or reward from men; instead, we should work to please the Lord.
- Christian Employers Should Treat Their Employees Well.
- Tell the class that the next verse contains instructions for how Christian masters (bosses, employers, supervisors) should treat those who work under them.
- Read Ephesians 6:9.
- Ask: “Why should Christian ‘masters’ treat their workers well?” (because they have a Heavenly boss who is watching over them and will reward them for doing what is right).
- To reinforce this point, ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read Colossians 4:1.
- The Spirit-filled Christian “master” will realize that he is under a higher Authority – the Lord Jesus Christ.
- (Since slavery was common and accepted in the First Century, it is amazing to consider that this command was written to Christian slave owners. They were required to treat their slaves fairly and justly – even though those slaves were their property. Christianity brought an unprecedented change to the social order of the First Century world!)
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Remind the class that in Ephesians 5:18 we were told to be filled with the Holy Spirit. When Christians are filled with (controlled by) the Holy Spirit, they can be submissive to one another. Spirit-filled Christian wives can be submissive to their husbands, and Spirit-filled Christian husbands can love their wives. Spirit-filled Christian children can obey their parents, and Spirit-filled Christian parents can properly raise their children. Those things are only possible when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Conversely, if we can’t do those things that is a sign that we are NOT filled with the Spirit.
In the same way, Spirit-filled Christian employees are commanded to be obedient and respectful to their supervisors, and to be good, faithful workers. Spirit-filled Christian employers and bosses are commanded to treat their employees kindly and respectfully, remembering that they have a “Boss” in heaven. The only way Christians can be good employees or employers is to be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Ask: “Are you the kind of employee God expects you to be? If you are a supervisor, do you treat your workers the way God wants you to?” Tell the class that since God clearly commands these things, any shortcomings in these areas are sins. Urge the students to be honest with themselves and with God, confessing their sins of poor behavior at work. Lead a closing prayer, allowing students time to privately confess their sins and make new commitments to the Lord.
After the prayer, tell the students if they have not been good, faithful, obedient employees in the past they need to ask their employer to forgive them. They should tell him or her that God has convicted them of sin and they will do better from now on. If they have complained to fellow employees they need to ask forgiveness of them, also. If they are employers and have not treated their employees well they should confess that to their employees.
If Spirit-filled Christians will act right at work, their place of employment will never be the same again and they will probably have some wonderful witnessing opportunities.
CONCLUSION: Tell everyone to follow through on their commitment this week. Tell them to apologize and make new commitments to their employers and fellow workers. Next week’s lesson is about the Christian’s warfare. Ask everyone to read Ephesians 6:10-17 this week and to do the learning activities in their Sunday School Member Quarterly.
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