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16. Living as a Christian at work

The Master's instructions about everyday life. (1 Peter 2:11-21).

Peter told the early Christians that they should expect to be different from the majority of people in the world around them. In 1 Peter 2:11-21 we can see how this difference is brought about. The Christian is to ‘abstain’ from ‘sinful desires’ which ‘war against your soul’.

To abstain means to deliberately choose not to do something. It means to say ‘no thank you’ when something is offered. It means to keep going steadfastly forward when invited to turn aside.

The ‘sinful desires’ could be almost anything from pride and passion to

greed and godlessness. The ‘war’ indicates very strongly that this is a

fight for your Christian survival.

Peter says that the world around us may react in two ways. Some people

may say that we are wrong to take Christianity too far. They may say

that we will prejudice the position of others at work if, for example, we

fill in an honest car mileage allowance on a journey taken by others as well

as ourselves.

Other people, or perhaps even the same people at different times, may

say that they can see the difference God has made in our lives. Often

what is said in public and what is spoken privately are two very different


These key words sum up our responsibility as a Christian at work:

1. Submit to all who are in authority (vv.13, 18). Remember what the

Bible says about trying to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and

also about being unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).

Beware of putting yourself into any position that will stop you taking a

Christian stand.

2. Show your Christianity by good works rather than by boastfully

speaking about it (v.15). It is remarkably easy to provoke anger by

being ‘holier than thou’ in what you say but not what you do!

3. Serve God by doing your job well (v.16). He wants you to bring Him

honour in your job. He knows your witness will count for nothing if

you are lazy, careless or unconscientious.

4. Show respect for other people (v.17). You may not like what they do,

what they say or what they stand for, but you are nevertheless

responsible for loving them just as our Lord Jesus loves them.

5. Suffer and be wronged if needs be rather than argue, defend or

guard your own rights in a way that would harm your Christian

witness (vv.18-21). Keep in mind that ultimate reward comes from

God and not from man.

Don’t attempt to impose Christian standards on non-Christian people.

These are standards for you to live by and for them when they are born

again. You live by them and they will speak for you without a word passing

your lips. If you receive abuse, then learn to react as Jesus did (v.23).

Never compromise your testimony by telling a lie, for example, ‘He’s not in

at the moment,’ or by stealing time, paper, allowances, etc, or by

exaggerating in order to sell, or by promising work that cannot be done,

or by deliberately hurting another person. God wants to use you as His

representative right where you are. Make 1 Peter 2:12 your aim.

Christian service can be in the local office or factory as well as on an

overseas mission-field.

Other scriptures to read: Ephesians 6:5-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13.

Discussion guide on ‘Living as a Christian at work’

Reading 1 Peter 2:11-21.

1. Why is it not enough for the Christian to “abstain from sinful


2. What is the positive side of this process of Christian growth?

Verse 12.

3. “Doing wrong”, verse 12, and “doing good”, verse 15. How should a

Christian respond to the comments and criticisms of those around

him or her?

4. How can a Christian live “conscious of God”, verse 19? How will this

help him or her live a Christ-honouring life at work?

5. Verses 17-18 urge Christians to submit even to harsh rulers. How

can Christians do this? Is it easy or difficult? Share some examples

you personally have faced. Does verse 20 help you at all?

It says: “this is commendable before God”.

6. How does the response of Jesus to His own sufferings influence

your reaction today? Verses 23-24. What changes should you make

in your life in the light of Jesus’ example?

7. “Christian service can be in the local office or factory as well as on

the overseas mission field”. Discuss what is meant by this sentence.

8. Read Ephesians 5:8-10 and discuss how they help our understanding

of ‘Living as a Christian at work’. In one sentence, describe what it

is to live in a way which “pleases the Lord”.


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