Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Eph. 6:6a “Not with eyeservice,. . .”
As far as we know, the term “eyeservice” was used by no one prior to the Apostle Paul. He evidently coined it. The word is so descriptive that it tells its own meaning. “Eyeservice” is service done to please the eye, labor rendered “only under the compulsion of inspection” (Moule).
Workers guilty of “eyeservice” take their rule of conduct from the eye of their master, and labor only when the boss is watching. They are diligent in the boss’ presence, dilatory in his absence. They look busy and dependable when watched, but are idle or careless when the boss is away.
Christian workers and students should not need to be checked up on. They ought to do their best whether anyone is watching or not. Joseph was dependable. His master Potiphar “left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat” (GN 39:6a).
To labor with “eyeservice,” to do well only when watched, is a beggarly way to work. Such oversight is for little children in kindergarten and for mere hirelings. One never thinks of overseeing noble-spirited workers. Did anyone have to supervise Raphael, Michael Angelo, or Beethoven? Did someone have to keep a time-chart on Luther or Calvin? Christian workers should not need the governance and stimulus which comes from the oversight of mortal men. We have a higher calling. God’s Spirit impels within us. Thus, a Christian should never have to wait to be compelled into action by mere mortals.
Eph. 6:6b “. . .as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ,. . .”
“Menpleasers” seek only human applause, not God’s. They try to make a good impression on others solely to promote their own selfish welfare. Politicians who seek only the applause of multitudes and neglect the true welfare of a nation are “menpleasers,” as are preachers who discuss only popular topics people want to hear while avoiding unpopular truths people need to hear.
Christians do want to make a good impression on their boss and fellow workers, but for the right reasons. “Menpleasers” seek to impress only in things seen by people, and do so in order to gain selfish or undeserved favor.
Christians, though, deem themselves “servants of Christ.” We do well not primarily for our own advancement. If a Christian worker receives a raise or a promotion, this is well and good, but only secondary, incidental to our primary motive and desire of being “servants” who honor and glorify “Christ.”
Eph. 6:6c “. . .doing the will of God from the heart;”
God wants Christians to work well, to be motivated from their innermost being. Outward service is not enough. God wants to see something in “the heart” the boss cannot see. Jesus looks for fervor and zeal in our inner quadrants. To God, the spirit of the work is as important as the output of the work.
“I hate my job” is a grumbling akin to Israel’s murmurings in the wilderness. As a believer, one must come to grips with the burning question, “Is my present job in God’s will for my life?” If yes, then “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (EC 9:10). If no, then why do you work there?
If convinced your job is not in God’s perfect will for you, seek a transfer, for a Christian’s work must never be done only outwardly and formally. We must give wholehearted effort to our jobs. Labor heartily, from the depth of our being. God wants us discontent with formal, perfunctory, bored discharge of duty. Let Him give us an inner compulsion which drives away listlessness.
Please do not be a laborer who, between glances at the clock, looks for ways to get out of work. Take your allotted lunch hour, enjoy your morning and afternoon coffee breaks, but the rest of the time, work with all your heart.
Always keep your heart right, for if it ever turns bad and sour, temptations to slack off increase in number and intensity. The heart is our most powerful source of inner motivation. Our best labors are those thrust into motion by a willing, vigorous heart. As the stroke of a piston drives a huge machine, even so a throbbing heart empowers activities and gives zest to our work. The worth of our productivity often depends on the heartiness we throw into each detail. Wholeheartedness helps us work hard, work happy, and work well.
Eph. 6:7a “With good will doing service,. . .”
Christian workers are to labor not only wholeheartedly, with readiness and eagerness, but also with “good will,” with a disposition which wishes others well. “Good will” involves a loyalty to employers, company, and fellow-workers.
This was Paul’s way of speaking against “the suppressed indignation which swells the bosom of slaves” (Calvin). Slaves by and large hated their masters, and usually responded to their commands with lethargy, doing only the bare minimum to get by. This is never acceptable for the Christian worker. We labor “with good will”–no griping, no criticizing the work of others, no being disruptive. We neither work in a grudging manner, resenting the profits made by our company or its owners, nor resent promotions co-laborers receive.
Eph. 6:7b “. . .as to the Lord, and not to men:”
Christian laborers, never yield to the temptation of working badly because paid poorly or treated cruelly. By serving others, however difficult they are, we serve God, and wed the work of earth to the worship of heaven.
Christians are only incidentally the servants of an earthly boss. “Beyond their master they see their Master” (Hendriksen). We are not our boss’ or our own. Bought with a price, we belong to Jesus. What we do is done for Him.
Henry Ward Beecher told of a poor immigrant stonecutter. Homeless and friendless, ashamed to beg bread, yet hungry, he took a job in Brooklyn for room and board. Each day, from sun to sun, he was given stones on which to carve ferns and flowers. The stonecutter did not know what his carvings were for, but did his very best on each one. One day, he paused to admire the city’s new Art Gallery. There, all along the front of this edifice which was the beauty of the neighborhood, were his carvings. As tears dropped from his eyes, he said, “I am glad I did it well.” When doing the work itself, he did not realize how important his job performance was, but each day he passed the Art Gallery and looked up at his work, he was always glad he could say, “I did it well.”
“Though the work which you are doing seems small, put your heart in it; do the best you can wherever you are; and by and by God will show you where He has put that work. And when you see it stand in that great structure which He is building you will rejoice in every single moment of fidelity with which you wrought. Do not let the seeming littleness of what you are doing now damp your fidelity” (Beecher).
Laborers and students, work “as to the Lord, and not to men.” Cease being ho-hum drones. Lift yourself to a height where you say with conviction, “I am glad I did it well.” Let it never be said a Christian did only enough to barely stay out of trouble, or tried solely to do “the minimum for the maximum reward” (Lloyd-Jones). Always do your best wholeheartedly, “as to the Lord.”