The majority of our time each day and each week is not spent at church, reading the Bible, praying, singing songs of praise, or doing other things that we might consider “spiritual.” Instead, most of our time is spent at work, at school, caring for others (children, grandchildren, parents, etc.), taking care of chores around the house, or doing other things. Since we are made to worship God and called to put Him first, do our daily responsibilities get in the way of our purpose and actually hinder us from truly serving God as much as we could?
A number of years ago I came across an excellent book by Pastor Tom Nelson called Work Matters that addresses this very issue. In it he seeks to show that our everyday lives and activities, the work we do at our jobs and the work we do around the house, does not get in the way of our faith but actually is the context through which we live out our faith and serve God. It is a great book that I recommend to you, and it can serve as a great resource to dig deeper into some of the concepts we are discussing at Faith Church in our current sermon series called ReFrame. As a way to encourage you to read it yourself, let me share some of its main points that have encouraged and challenged me.
Work and the Great Commandment
Without diminishing the call of God upon some to be engaged in ministry as a vocation nor the call to share the good news with others (often called the Great Commission), Nelson explains that our work is a place in which we get to live out the Great Commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. This happens through doing our work ethically and excellently, doing all things for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and also working in all things as to the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Doing excellent work — that is at the fullness of our potential — honors God, and work must be done in ways that reflect God’s laws and ideals (e.g., not cheating others). We love our neighbors as ourselves by treating our coworkers with the dignity and respect they deserve as people made in the image of God, and we also love our neighbors in doing or making things for people (customers) that enhance their lives and bring them joy. We work for the common good or the good of others, not just our good.
How Work Helps Others
All types of work provide some sort of service or goods that are needed by others. We need to recognize that whatever field we have been trained and/or gifted in, we are in it to help others. Construction workers build buildings that will house families or businesses which provide livelihood to people. Accountants serve people by helping them understand their finances, bringing order to the chaos (and guiding people through the tax code!). Nurses offer care for people who are sick and hurting. Entrepreneurs create goods and services that make life easier and businesses that will help people provide for their families. A homemaker helps provide an environment of rest and nurture for the family.
I tried to think about some of the jobs I have had or have considered. At one point, I considered a job in the financial field and realized that this job would be to help people make smart investments for their family goals and future living. I worked at a movie theater — this industry seeks to give people entertainment and an escape from the realities of the world and/or inspiration by telling good stories; my job was to get them there. I have been a referee for middle school and high school wrestling; this job was to facilitate this athletic activity among youngsters and help them develop physical and mental skills by offering accountability to the rules.
The Good Origins Of Work
Work is not punishment; there was work to do before the entrance of sin to humanity. God calls for us to work, to fill and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). In fact, the same word that is used for work in Genesis 2:15 is used for worship; our work is worship because it honors and glorifies God when we do it in the manner that God designed for us. Therefore, when we work, we are fulfilling God’s design for us.
Errors to Avoid in Approaching Daily Work
While we are called to work, we need to make sure it does not become an idol, something that we worship instead of God. Work is not to be our god, but our God sends us to work. Nor should we confuse the Great Commandment (to love others) and the Great Commission (to tell others about Jesus and invite them to believe), as if doing good works for others is all God calls his disciples to do; we need to share the gospel with others. However, we must not think that the Christian life is only about doing “churchy” things and the only way we serve or honor God when we are doing our daily work is by explicitly telling people about Jesus. All work can be seen as God’s work (unless the profession is fundamentally unethical or immoral).
Worship God on the Weekend and Throughout the Week
Hopefully, this perspective gives us hope that the everyday tasks of life are not meaningless but actually meaningful. The goal of your job is not just to make money to provide for your family and to support ministry endeavors (though those are good things); the goal of your job is to honor God by doing good work, working for the common good, and being good to those you have contact with, just as God is good to us (even when we don’t deserve it). We should not be working for the weekend, but rather see how what happens on the weekend in worship helps you at work during the week so that you can serve and worship God each day in all that you do!
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