Theme of the Week: Work as Divine Calling
Bible Verse: The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5 ESV
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:31, Revelation 21:24-26
At the simplest level, work is any set of tasks to be performed in pursuit of a particular goal. Notice there is no mention of money in that statement. That’s because, work is not just cash in exchange for labor. In many cases, of course, a worker does get paid.
But some people (such as artists) work with a hope of getting paid, some (such as college and grad students) pay others to let them work, and some (such as at-home moms) do their work for rewards that are not financial at all. Executives, pastors, athletes, parents, service workers, missionaries, students, musicians, bloggers, retirees, entrepreneurs—every one of these perform work: a set of tasks in pursuit of a goal. Almost regardless of one’s phase of life, nearly everyone works. We are all tempted toward two extremes in our attitude towards our work. At one extreme we can be burdened, resentful, whining, shirking, unappreciative and lazy.
When I adopt this view, I become what the Bible calls a sluggard. The sluggard sees work as nothing more than a necessary inconvenience en route to the true goal of life—not working!
At the other extreme we can worship our work, finding the very core of our identity in “what we do.” When I adopt this view, I become what the Bible calls an idolater—specifically, in today’s language, a workaholic.
Left to ourselves, we will quickly gravitate to one extreme or the other—the self-centered sluggard who places work too low on life’s ladder of priorities, or the idolatrous workaholic who places it too high, above where God would have it and above our responsibilities to others. But the Bible also offers us God’s perspective on work.
When examined through the lens of Scripture, work is neither a drudgery nor an idol. As we have seen, God intends work to be a calling in which we find personal satisfaction and, more importantly, in which we can glorify the living God in at least two important ways:
- First, in the productivity and creativity of our work, we echo God’s work in creating and sustaining all that exists.
- And second, as we confront the challenges of our work, our grace-motivated responses demonstrate the fruit of God’s Spirit in us.
Seeing work as a calling from God is therefore not merely a balanced, helpful perspective; not just “a good way to look at it.” It is reality. God has created us and saved us, and keeps us here on earth to display his glory as we gladly embrace and pursue our individual callings. This gives spiritual significance to our every act of work.
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