This is the one-hundred-twentieth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
In recent lessons we’ve looked at a biblical view of work, how it comes from the nature of God, and what happens if we work too little or too much. And what the biblical view of rest is.
Whatever corrective we need for our attitudes toward work or the way we go about it, there is one biblical principle that defines and shapes work in such a way that it becomes a noble and rich part of our experience: We work for Christ.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 2:23-24).
How tempting it is to read such a biblical principle, give it a casual nod, and then—never thinking that it might actually make a profound practical difference—go right on with whatever attitudes we’ve always harbored about our work: resentment toward the boss, jealousy of other workers, bitterness about wages, glumness about the meaninglessness of the job.
But Paul really meant it. He knew that work is at its core a spiritual experience. There is always something going on in the heart when the hands are active. We have a certain attitude, positive or negative; we experience various emotions depending on what we’re doing; we evaluate what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, for whom we do it. If you know that your boss will notice your hard work and appreciate it, that’s in the back of your head as you work. If you work for an unresponsive and unappreciative boss, you naturally have a different attitude.
Now imagine this: beyond your boss and your boss’s boss and your boss’s boss’s boss—in a whole different spiritual dimension—the Lord Christ sits overseeing your work. Better yet, imagine him by your side as you work, Christ the laborer who worked with the Father to create the world and to inaugurate every activity that sustains life. He’s not like a boss who watches with a condemning eye, anxious to criticize and demean; rather, he watches, anxious to affirm every hour of honest work, intent on giving an eternal reward to those who sustain the life he created. If we work for Christ, then the most important remuneration is the reward of knowing that we’re participating in a fundamental part of God’s plan for the human race.
Work is witness. Every Christian who works alongside others in the workplace has an extraordinary opportunity to show the power and presence of Christ. What supervisor or co-worker is not impressed by a worker who brings commitment, responsibility, integrity, energy, and reliability into his work? It’s witness without a word, testimony that cannot be gainsaid.
[See previous – How to Live the Bible — Time for Rest]
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.