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Whatever You Do…

Tom works for a trucking company and is responsible for local sales. He hits the road early every morning, dutifully calls on his clients, fills out his reports on time, gets along with most of his co-workers, and performs admirably for his company. Tom is paid well for his work and enjoys some nice "perks" that go along with his job, like entertaining clients at baseball and football games, etc. He wonders, though about the value of his work. "It’s the same old routine, pat clients on the back and try to make friends with them to get the sale. I’m tired of the drudgery and futility of it all." Tom often wonders about "going into the ministry" and really doing "something worthwhile" since he finds so little fulfillment in his job. But for now, he continues to drag himself out of bed every morning, recognizing that if he doesn’t, he will lose his job to one of the many younger guys waiting in the wings to take his place. At least he has his weekends to look forward to.

Now the fallacy in Tom’s thinking is that He believes God is ambivalent toward his job in truck freight. Like many Christians, Tom has adopted what Francis Schaeffer called a "Two Story" view of life, a belief that suggests that the Lord’s real concern is only for the work of the ministry, for those people in vocational positions like pastors, missionaries and so on. This line of thinking suggests that somehow the Lord has categorized the world into two separate levels. On the one hand, there is the secular side which includes Tom’s job in truck freight; on the other hand, there is the "sacred or spiritual" side, which Tom feels he participates in only when he attends a Bible study, goes to church or maybe offers prayer at the dinner table. Because of this distinction in Tom’s mind, he believes that the majority of his life is irrelevant to God, and only a very small percentage of his time, say five percent or so, has any eternal significance. This translates into his feeling insignificant and worthless not only in the kingdom of God, but in the eyes of God as well

Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, you also may have fallen into the trap of the "Two Story" view of life. Don’t think you are alone. Many Christians have never been taught a biblical view of work, so let’s examine what the Bible has to say and evaluate the implications for our day-to-day lives.

First, you must realize that God is deeply concerned about your work. The Bible clearly dismisses any tenet suggesting that spiritual matters are higher and nobler than the "secular world"; in fact, it depicts all of life as sacred for the Believer. And, in that light, the scriptures portray work as a major part of life that God takes quite seriously.

Work itself has intrinsic value because God Himself is a worker; this is precisely how He reveals Himself in the Bible. In Genesis 1, God says He created the heavens and earth; Genesis 2:2 calls this activity "work" and the scripture uses the same Hebrew word when referring to man’s work in the Ten Commandments.

God didn’t stop working after Creation. He continues to work, upholding the creation (Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 1:3). He also meets His creatures’ many needs (Psalm 104). He is working out His purposes in history (see Deuteronomy 11:1-7). And of course, He accomplished the great work of Atonement at the Cross. Jesus said, "My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working" (John 5:17). Because God is a worker, we learn that work itself must be significant.

In addition to being a worker Himself, God created us to be His co-workers. We were created in God’s own image, and since God is a worker, man must be a worker as well. This is detailed in Genesis 1:26: "Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over the creatures that move along the ground." This passage makes it clear that man was created not to work for himself, but to work as a co-worker with God. Before the Fall, God placed man in the garden "to work and take care of it" (Genesis 2:8, 15). God planted the garden and man cultivated it. This is a graphic example of our partnership with God. Obviously, the Lord does not need us to help Him run His creation, but as an act of His grace He chooses to have us participate in His plans.

Allow me to dispel a common myth among many Christians: According to the passages I have just quoted, it is apparent that work existed before the Fall; in other words, work is not a result of the Fall. God cursed the earth, which made man’s work harder, but He did not curse work itself.

Let’s go back to Tom again and use his work as an example. One obvious need that the Lord is interested in meeting is our need for physical nourishment, food. Well, Tom calls on a parts manufacturer for an automobile company. These parts go into the cars which we drive, on a road someone has constructed, to a grocery store built by a contractor and his crews, where we walk down aisles pushing a grocery cart supplied by a supplier, where we select our vegetables grown by a farmer, and we check out at the counter with a register manufactured by an electronics company, and we walk back to our cars and drive home. You will readily see the vast resource of people that God used along the way to provide for the physical needs of our family. And Tom’s role was just as necessary and important as the farmer who actually grew the vegetables. Tom is doing God’s work by helping to meet the needs of God’s people.

Through work we love people by serving them. Through work, God provides for the financial needs of our families, and He enables us to earn money to give to others. Through work, we have the opportunity to demonstrate the difference Christ makes in our lives, as we allow Christ to express Himself through us to those around us. And that is the key. You and I must realize that God does not check out of our lives during the 60% of our time that we are on the job. Because our work has dignity and value before God, we are to go about our work with the same level of spiritual commitment, honesty, integrity, and dependence on Christ, as we expect of our pastors and missionaries!

So, if Tom is out there each day selling his freight services to the glory of God, and if he is demonstrating the life of Christ through fairness and excellence and the fruit of the Spirit, and if he is sharing Christ with non-Christian co-workers through his life and his words, then his work is God’s Work and, as such, he is contributing as much to the eternal purposes of God as those who are in full-time ministry.

As Believers in Jesus Christ, we must see the connection between what we do all day and what we believe God is trying to accomplish on earth. By becoming co-workers with God each day even in the small tasks of life, we can find the sort of dignity in our work which will motivate us to excel.

In the wonderful film Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddel spoke words which reverberate through my mind as I think of our calling to serve God in our work. He said, "When I run, I feel God’s pleasure." Likewise, you and I, whether we are selling truck freight, or putting a nut on a bolt, or caring for children at home, should feel that when we express the talents that God has given us, in total dependence upon the Lord as our source, we are living our lives in a manner which pleases our Father.

The apostle Paul wrote, "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" (Colossians 3:23-24). You and I can fulfill the greatest calling on the face of the earth when we work in this fashion, because in so doing we truly become partners with God in accomplishing His work on earth.