I remember when my parents wanted to promote their small property. So they contracted a Christian builder. They did not want anyone to cheat them or take them for a ride. But the builder sold their land to 5 different people, filed for bankruptcy, and disappeared. He left my parents with a mess that took several years to resolve. It left them with a great financial loss.
Is there a benefit to the idea of Christian doctors and nurses, Christian builders, Christian architects, Christian engineers, Christian teachers, and Christian athletes?
There was an unspoken rule in my extended family. It was to visit only Christian doctors and hospitals for the treatment of my wife’s chronic pancreatic condition. All her life, she consulted only Christian doctors and visited only Christian hospitals, who sadly did not diagnose her condition accurately. But once we married, I broke this unspoken rule. I took her to see a doctor who gave her an accurate diagnosis of her condition.
Is it safe to assume that only if someone is a Christian, we can trust them to do a good job? Well, if someone is a Christian it should radically improve their labour. But this is no guarantee, given the sinful nature of man.
Work itself is God’s idea. Any work done well can benefit everyone, whether a Christian does it or not. But as Christians, we do have unique insight into work that can truly set us apart.
How can we work in a way that glorifies God and aligns our work to his purposes?
Work is God’s Gracious Gift to Humanity
We often grow up thinking that work is drudgery. In many cases, this is true. But work is not the result of sin and God’s punishment to mankind. On the contrary, work existed even before the fall.
God made man and woman in his likeness and commanded them to work (Gen. 1:26, 1:28, 2:15). But before commanding man to work, God was working (Gen 2:2-3). Creation was the glorious work of God. It included God working with his hands in the dirt as he created man and woman.
God created us to work, whether we receive payment for it or not.
After the fall, the curse of man’s sin corrupted work (Gen. 3). But God did not erase work altogether. Rather, he graciously continued the opportunity and impact of work. He sees it as intrinsic to furthering his good purposes on earth, as well as to our humanity, survival, and sustenance because he made us in his likeness.
God created us to work, whether we receive payment for it or not. Work has a way of bringing God’s satisfaction and delight into our lives. Whether someone is the CEO of a company who has struck a major deal, or laying bricks in the heat of the sun, God has made both with the capacity to feel the satisfaction of a hard day’s work and sleep with contentment. This is God’s gracious gift to us, whether someone is a Christian or not.
Work is an Expression of Our Love For Our Neighbour
How does God answer the prayer of a parent when their child is sick? Or the plea of someone who needs help with a government-related task? How does he relieve the fear of someone older when they travel across the seas to meet their family? In what way does God encourage a child to keep going after they face failure at school? How does he ensure your safety and promptness when you travel to work? Or keep you and your belongings safe and help you sleep at night without worry?
Work that is not done well violates our neighbour.
Is it not true that God is working behind the scenes through the compassion of a nurse, the diligence of a government employee, the gentleness of an airline steward, the hopeful presence of a kind teacher, the careful auto or Uber driver, and the vigilant security personnel who patrol your neighbourhood without sleep?
Work done well is a form of love. This opportunity to love should be the greatest motivation for a Christian’s work.
Jesus has called us to love God supremely and to love our neighbour, as ourselves. What better way to express our love for our neighbour than doing our work with excellence, diligence, and promptness?
We love them with high quality work that is skilled, thoughtful, and creative. It is loving when our labour is done with integrity and honesty as workers who are reliable and dependable. All these qualities about our work and how we work result in a practical expression of our love for our neighbour.
The corollary is also true. Work that is not done well violates our neighbour. It completely contradicts God’s vision for work and human flourishing. It should be inconceivable for a Christian to do shoddy work. This would be a disgrace to our witness and calling.
How you work can either be God’s answer for shalom and flourishing to someone in need; or it could be another way to further the curse and brokenness in this world. Work done well is one of the most tangible and practical expressions of our love for others.
Work is a Glimpse of God’s Glory
We see the repeated pronouncement that the work of creation was “good” to God. It is followed by a final benediction over his work. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
Imagine what Adam and Eve witnessed when they first opened their eyes. The work of God must be a taste of his glory itself. Being made in his image, God has imbedded into our work the capacity to witness and experience his stunning glory.
For the last 6 years, I have been going to the same barber. His name is Mubeen. One thing that always strikes me is how he works. His salary is low but his skill is high. He takes his time to cut my hair and almost every time, when he is done, he has this look of satisfaction about his work. And I am a satisfied customer.
Mubeen shows me the mirror and smiles at the work he has finished. He even has the audacity to call his colleagues and display his work for others to see. In a small but sure way, when Mubeen completes his work, it is a display of God’s creative gifts to mankind. It is nothing short of a glimpse into God’s glory, displayed through our work.
Just as we stand in awe of creation’s marvellous canvas across the universe, the work of redemption Christ accomplished on the cross, or the work God continues to do behind the scenes in this world. We marvel as he works to protect, preserve, provide, and sustain. In the same way, God lets us share in his glory through the work done by sinful, weak, and feeble hands.
The next time you make those spreadsheets, sort data for meaningful information, prepare food in your kitchen, arrange your cupboard, make a sale, write code, teach a lesson, or preach a sermon, remember your ability and opportunity to work is God’s gracious gift. When you do your work well it not only expresses your love for your neighbour, but it helps you and others experience God’s glory.