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DOES MY WORK HAVE ANY MEANING?
Frequently, I have someone ask me, "Does my work have anything to do with my being a Christian", or, "Should I really expect to enjoy my work?" These questions seem to imply, Is it just selfish to expect to enjoy my work? Isn't it just part of life to have to work and probably not to enjoy it? Many of us grew up with a strong American work ethic -- we were expected to work on farms, factories, or other labor-intensive businesses without questioning whether it was something we enjoyed. It was our duty -- we just had to do it. But look at what has happened by adopting that frame of reference. We began to take less pride in the work we were doing, looking forward only to getting off. -- We hear frequently, Thank God It's Friday -- and people seem to live for the weekend. Just recently I overheard a conversation in the grocery store: “How you doing?” “Oh, I’ll be great in about 45 minutes.” You know the message. I’ll be fine as soon as I get away from this stinking job.
This attitude about work has undermined our American society. We do the work because we have to -- thus we are satisfied with shoddy work, treat customers like impositions, and look for excuses to stay home. Consequently, even as Christians, we have developed a dualistic lifestyle -- We tend to compartmentalize our lives -- We are Christians on Sunday, concerned about integrity, character, kindness, and goodness, but then the rest of the week, well, that's just work. This compartmentalization won't fly Biblically.
The Bible makes no separation of the different areas of our lives -- everything is spiritual.
Ps. 34:1 I will bless the Lord at all times.
I Thes. 18:17 In everything give thanks.
Look at how our Jewish forefathers viewed work. There is a Hebrew word -- AVODAH -- that means physical work, service of God and Worship of God. The same word is the basis for work and worship. The Jews saw no distinction between their work and their worship. What they were doing on Thursday morning or Tuesday afternoon was just as much an expression of worship as being in the synagogue on the Sabbath.
The Bible reinforces this idea. The Bible gives dignity to any work. There are no non-sacred occupations. In Exodus 36, Moses is talking about building the Tabernacle.
In Verse 31, it says, "And Moses told them, Jehovah has specifically appointed Bezalel as general superintendent of the project. He will be able to create beautiful workmanship from gold, silver, and bronze; he can cut and set stones like a jeweler, and can do beautiful carving; in fact, he has every needed skill. And God has made him and Oholiab gifted teachers of their skills to others. God has filled them both with unusual skills as jewelers, carpenters, embroidery designers in blue, purple, and scarlet on linen backgrounds, and as weavers -- they excel in all the crafts we will be needing in the work."
Do you know that any skill God has given you can be used for ministry?
Jesus -- stone mason, carpenter
Paul -- leather goods
Disciples – fishing
If you are a truck driver, God can use that. If you are an artist, your art should be an expression of your ministry. If you are a farmer, do it with excellence.
I once counseled a young man who worked in a manufacturing facility making refrigerators. He hated his work. And yet he stated that he wanted to be a Christian witness “where it mattered”. When I questioned him about his witness at work, he was immediately defensive. “Everyone knows these aren’t Rhodes scholars I’m working with. Why should I care what they think of me?” With that attitude, how much of a Christian witness do you think he was anywhere else?
Never separate your work from your worship. See what you do during the week as a form of ministry. If you are not able to see it this way, then you need to consider changing your work. Use the gifts God has given you as a form of ministry just as completely as if you were on the mission field in Africa.
I once heard it said that the true measure of a person is not what he does on Sunday, but rather who he is Monday through Saturday. Plan to start the week with a Thank God it’s Monday attitude. Remember, if you're not in full time service for Jesus, for whom are you working?
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