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When the Powerful do the Right Thing





For thirty years, Johnson had arrived at work at 9A.M. on the dot. He had never missed a day and was never late. 

Consequently, when on one particular day 9 A.M. passed without Johnson’s arrival, it caused a sensation. All work ceased, and the boss himself, looking at his watch and muttering, came out into the corridor. 

Finally, precisely at ten, Johnson showed up, clothes dusty and torn, his face scratched and bruised, his glasses bent. He limped painfully to the time clock, punched in, and said, aware that all eyes were upon him, “I tripped and rolled down two flights of stairs in the subway. Nearly killed myself.” 

And the boss said, “And to roll down two flights of stairs took you a whole hour?” 




Bosses often get a bad rap these days. The word boss brings along with it all the “bossy” connotations. When we just hear the word boss, we probably bring an image of a cranky person with a scowl on their face. I suppose the same would have been true in Bible times, where slavery was a way of life. Bring up the phrase “slave master” and others would probably have had the same image pop into their brain. Now, I know that is not true of all of us, but it is likely for many of us.


So, what does God have to say about all this slave and slave master stuff or boss and employee stuff? Well, quite a bit. Where to start? Well, remember, there are basics of the Christian faith and in the example of Christ that are true for all of us no matter our title. We can begin with the Great Commission.


“…he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36


This verse creates a perspective for us that should reign over everything that we do in all the relationships we have. This is a starting point and ending point. This verse is the 10 Commandments summed up into one verse…Jesus style. Jesus really wants our lives to be governed by this principle. We need to love God with everything we have. He’s the creator and either makes or allows everything to happen within our lives. And likewise, we need to love others as ourselves. Everyone else is a crowning creation of God as well…and God’s plan doesn’t change for them. It is the same for every other person as it is for us. God wants us to be in Heaven with Him someday.


So there’s the principle we need to carry all the time. Bosses and Masters who are Jesus followers are bound by this principle as well. Not sure if the word “bound” is a good choice, but I hope it pulls the weight that is relevant to Steve’s message this Sunday.


Paul, in his letter to Philemon, is addressing a dicey subject in his day and time. A slave, names Onisemus…a runaway slave of Philemon at that, has become a Christian. Philemon is a Christian slave owner. Paul gently, but succinctly, writes to Philemon that he is sending the “runaway” slave back to him. He lets Philemon know that he/Paul, is confident that Philemon will do the “right thing”…Great Commandment style. Forgiveness will be necessary. Some type of grace will need to be given along with the obvious words that would be necessary to come from the “Principal’s” mouth. Onisemus has to go to the principal’s office, but Paul is reminding that certain principal (Philemon) that he needs to act as a Christian brother to Onisemus first. It’s what Christ wants. It’s what this Kingdom is all about.


Being a leader that has authority gives power. How someone uses that power is all up to them. Will the power come from God’s spirit or a “self” spirit? It’s up to you if you are in that position. But just think of what can happen if you tap fully into the Holy Spirit to lead when you have been given authority over people’s lives, jobs, duties. You could end up leading them to a change in their life that will be eternal…and might touch an untold number of others as well.


We are blessed to be a blessing no matter what role we play.



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