Working It Out

Working It Out

Our “God at work” series is done… but here are a cluster of thoughts that didn’t quite make it into the sermons.

1/ Motivations matter. The hard working person is normally commended. But what if our industry has ulterior motives? Seeking personal glory, greed for money or avoiding domestic responsibilities might all be underlying reasons for grinding out those extra-long shifts. It is likewise ever so easy to mask our laziness under the guise of ‘self care.’ An audit of our work and rest habits should examine not just our calendars, but our hearts too.

2/ Secular work. There really is no such a thing as secular work. Quite apart from the language being unscriptural, it suggests a view of the world where God is distant and detached. Yet the biblical perspective contradicts this deistic notion. God is involved in the farmer’s work (Isaiah 30:23) while Christ is the boss of every employee (Col 3:24). While a small number of Christians may devote themselves full time to pastoring and evangelism (1 Cor 9), this doesn’t in any way devalue other forms of work. Work is inherently good, whether I’m a plumber or a preacher. As a student, a nurse, a bricklayer or a busy mum, I’m just as much ‘working for God’ as someone on the mission field. (For more on this point, read this article about Martin Luther).

3/ A lifetime of work. To be human is to work. With only a few obvious exceptions¹ we are called to be productive. Whether we’re school children, young mothers, paid employees or so called ‘retirees’, we are meant to be busy and fruitfully at work. Of course, what our work looks like will vary significantly depending on life stage and circumstances. The retiree’s work, for example, will take a different form to a younger person in their 20’s. In the former case, ‘work’ may take the form of labouring longer in prayer, giving a few hours on weekdays to a church ministry, spending time with a lonely fellow believer, baby sitting grandchildren, or taking out a Christian neighbour for a coffee. The question isn’t if we should work, but how.

4 / Don’t let your diversions become your deities. We should enjoy God’s world and ‘edifying diversions’ from our usual tasks is something we need. Exercise, photography, watching the rugby, gardening or music – these are all good gifts from our Creator to be enjoyed. It is important, however, that we don’t lose sight of God in our diversions. In the words of CS Lewis we are to “look along the sunbeam” to the source of the light. We are to enjoy the things of this world as an expression of our Creator’s love and goodness. We don’t rest by taking a break from Jesus; we rest by coming to him, even in the midst of our leisure.

5/ Self control is a fruit of the Spirit. According to the spirit of our age it is much more fashionable to express yourself than control yourself. Growing in self-discipline is an area in which all Christians need to mature. Whether it’s getting to work on time, putting in our allotted hours, or getting ourselves to bed at a seasonable hour, we cannot avoid the call to self control. We should start to see self control as a spiritual issue. It requires attention, prayer and accountability!

¹ ie. physical or mental incapacity.

“God at Work” series

Is work good? (Alan Guy)

Why is work hard? (Andy Macdonald)

How should a Christian work? (Stephen Gamble)

Why should I take a rest? (Colin Adams)