by Andy Mills, co-chair of the Theology of Work Project.
The Bible makes it clear that work matters to God. Whether you're a parent, a bus driver, an artist or an engineer, CPA, salesman, or trainer – God cares about your work. Here are ten key points about work drawn from the Bible. They provide a practical foundation for Christians asking what the Bible says about how we should approach our work.
- Work is part of God's big picture.
- Our actual work matters to God, now and eternally.
- God provides us with unique skills, gifts and talents, and calls us to particular roles and activities.
- Quality, character, and ethics are foundational for our work.
- Our work is yoked with Christ.
- Our work should be centered on service to others.
- A rhythm of work and rest is essential to life.
- The use of wealth and our investments should be directed by God.
- God's work multiplies through relationships and through the local church.
- Work is a gift from God.
Used with permission - Check out the Theology of Work Project's Calling and Vocation Overview
- How does God’s creative and entrepreneurial character empower me to emulate Him?
- Is my work as an entrepreneur and creative really as God-honoring as that of a pastor or “full-time missionary”?
- What are the right questions to ask when discerning where God has called me to work?
- What does it look like to create not in order to make a name for myself but to glorify the One who has called me to create and love others?
- How does recognizing my work as a calling from God change my motivations for creating, what I create, and how I create it?
- What are the challenges unique to or especially acute for those who are called to create, and what’s the proper way to deal with them?
- What is the purpose of profit? How can I use my work as an entrepreneur to fulfill Jesus’s command to create disciples?
- While my work may matter today, will my creations live on into eternity?”
Here's a long excerpt...
“Jeremiah's life when, worn down by the opposition and absorbed in self-pity, he was about to capitulate to just such a premature death. He was ready to abandon his unique calling in God and settle for being a Jerusalem statistic.
At that critical moment he heard the reprimand: "So, Jeremiah, if you're worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can't keep your wits during times of calm, what's going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?" (Jer 12: 5).
Biochemist Erwin Chargaff updates the questions: "What do you want to achieve? Greater riches? Cheaper chicken? A happier life, a longer life? Is it power over your neighbors that you are after? Are you only running away from your death? Or are you seeking greater wisdom, deeper piety?"
Life is difficult, Jeremiah. Are you going to quit at the first wave of opposition? Are you going to retreat when you find that there is more to life than finding three meals a day and a dry place to sleep at night? Are you going to run home the minute you find that the mass of men and women are more interested in keeping their feet warm than in living at risk to the glory of God? Are you going to live cautiously or courageously?
I called you to live at your best, to pursue righteousness, to sustain a drive toward excellence. It is easier, I know, to be neurotic. It is easier to be parasitic. It is easier to relax in the embracing arms of The Average. Easier, but not better. Easier, but not more significant. Easier, but not more fulfilling.
I called you to a life of purpose far beyond what you think yourself capable of living and promised you adequate strength to fulfill your destiny. Now at (another) sign of difficulty you are ready to quit.
If you are fatigued by this run-of-the-mill crowd of apathetic mediocrities, what will you do when the real race starts, the race with the swift and determined horses of excellence? What is it you really want, Jeremiah?
Do you want to shuffle along with this crowd, or run with the horses? It is understandable that there are retreats from excellence, veerings away from risk, withdrawals from faith. It is easier to define oneself minimally (" a featherless biped") and live securely within that definition than to be defined maximally (" little less than God") and live adventurously in that reality.
It is unlikely, I think, that Jeremiah was spontaneous or quick in his reply to God's question. The ecstatic ideals for a new life had been splattered with the world's cynicism. The euphoric impetus of youthful enthusiasm no longer carried him. He weighed the options. He counted the cost. He tossed and turned in hesitation. The response when it came was not verbal but biographical.
His life became his answer, "I'll run with the horses." “
To that end, work like it depends on God.
Quotes from book
“According to the Bible, we don’t merely need the money from work to survive; we need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives.” - 52
“Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives. We learn not only that work has dignity in itself, but also that all kinds of work have dignity.” 66
If the point of work is to serve and exalt ourselves, then our work inevitably becomes less about the work and more about us. Our aggressiveness will eventually become abuse, our drive will become burnout, and our self-sufficiency will become self-loathing.”-90
“But if the purpose of work is to serve and exalt something beyond ourselves, then we actually have a better reason to deploy our talent, ambition, and entrepreneurial vigor—and we are more likely to be successful in the long run, even by the world’s definition.” - 90
Click for full printout
The "Message" says You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from them the life you say you want.
Not more Bible study. Not programs. But life. Life living with Christ. The word, in the word is him and in him is life (John 1: 1-4)
Dependence on a program, another study, another book, draws away from Christ.
How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of "accepting" Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him. - page 11, A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
What's the song, "I see clearly now....." ?
I don't. Not yet.
Onward through the fog.
To that end....
Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, furthered this derogatory notion of work as he perpetuated the dualism of Greek thinking. He also categorized life into two realms, which he called Grace and Nature. Revelation, which gave understanding to theology and church matters, operated in the upper realm of Grace.
In the lower realm of Nature, man's "natural" intellect stood squarely on its own. Business and occupations, operating in the lower realm, didn't require revelation.
According to Aquinas, they survived quite well on a diet of human intellect and reasoned judgment.
Now we bring this dichotomy up to the present. Francis Schaeffer, one of the modern era's greatest thinkers, wrote on the more recent impact of dualistic thinking. In A Christian Manifesto, he speaks of the flawed view of Christianity advanced through the Pietist movement in the seventeenth century.
Pietism began as a healthy protest against formalism and a too abstract Christianity. But it had a deficient, 'platonic' spirituality. It was platonic in the sense that Pietism made a sharp division between the 'spiritual' and the 'material' world—giving little, or no, importance to the 'material' world.
The totality of human existence was not afforded a proper place. Christianity and spirituality were shut up to a small, isolated part of life.
The result of such a view is that the activity of work is removed from the sacred realm and placed squarely in the secular—making it "impossible" to serve God by being a man or woman in business.
To me, this is a startling revelation!
Now here's a question for you. Has this view affected you, as it has me? Second-Class?
I can now see that the perspective of the Greeks, established so many years ago, continues alive and well to the present day, influencing and distorting our perception of work.
For years, I thought my involvement in business was a second-class endeavor—necessary to put bread on the table, but somehow less noble than more sacred pursuits like being a minister or a missionary.
The clear impression was that to truly serve God, one must leave business and go into "full-time Christian service." Over the years, I have met countless other business people who feel the same way.
The reason is clear: Our culture is thoroughly saturated with dualism. In this view, business and most occupations are relegated to the lower, the worldly, the material realm. As such they are perceived to lack dignity, spirituality, intrinsic worth, and the nobility of purpose they deserve.
Schaeffer, looking back over the legacy of nearly three millennia of Greek thought, proposes this radically different view of true spirituality: It is not only that true spirituality covers all of life, but it covers all parts of the spectrum of life equally. In this sense there is nothing concerning reality that is not spiritual.
Indeed, there is a dramatically different way to view the world and our work—a view that liberated me to see business as a high calling. But to find this view, I had to look through a different window.
If your vision in life is to become as rich as possible, hoard every penny you make, and indulge your every whim - your vision is not from God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your vision for my life – help me prosper in it for You and others You would want me to serve. In Jesus' Name, Amen
The above devotion was written/compiled from multiple sources by Tim Hetzner, President of Lutheran Church Charities and author of WORD Bible Studies.