Article: ALL WORK & NO REST- Are we glorifying our Lord? | Jacob Varghese
In today’s fast-paced world, many people with day planners, digital diary, Laptops, Tabs and cell phones are pushing themselves to the limit. Our days often begin with a great deal of hustle. We roll out of bed, grab a quick breakfast, and rush out the door. After all, we have so much to do! We some times with furrowed brows and clenched fists, race from soccer fields to school meetings to piano lessons-grabbing meals on the run and collapsing into bed at night exhausted. Many times our hectic schedule and intense life style have robbed us of our sense of humor, peace, joy and satisfaction.
Is it possible that we as Christians approach life far too intensely? It seems that we often put ourselves under enormous pressure to succeed and to experience everything we possibly can. When we don’t, we can’t forgive ourselves for failing to measure up to our own expectations. But is this the way God wants us to live? When we examine the creation activity in Genesis 1, we see a simple pattern. First was the work of making the universe and everything in it. Then came enjoyment- God saw that everything was very good. Then came rest. God rested, not because He was tired but because He was satisfied with the completion of a job well done.
I remember reading the advertisement of a tourism agent- “Your work is meaningless and you will die having achieved comparatively little. You need a holiday.” Those words do indeed describe the feeling of many who are “sick and tired” of their work. In Ephesians 4:28, we are given the command to work for a living. The motivation given for work was not to accumulate wealth but to have something to share with others. From the biblical perspective, therefore, work is useful and most fulfilling when it enables us to help others. Our work does have meaning; especially when we realize that it is God-given and that we please Him when we share its fruit with others.
Once one of my friends called me up at night and said that he is leaving his present job and finding a different job, as he is not satisfied with the present occupation and that was not his dream job. But I was wondering, is finding a different occupation always the solution to job dissatisfaction? Or could the key be discovering a new approach to our present situation? That is what I have done over the last 30 plus years with the work I am doing. In Colossians 3, Paul used the phrase: “whatever you do” as a call for wholehearted service to the Lord. He wrote, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through Him”(v.17) and again, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men”(v.23) If we are working for a critical, ungrateful boss, we will tend to put forth minimum effort. But if our work is done for Christ, we will strive to do our best all the time. The boss may sign our paycheck, but the savior issues our reward. I don’t say that it is wrong to seek work that fit our skills and interests, but it is futile to move from one job to another with out settling the issue of whom we are serving. An old job can become new when we choose to do it for the Lord.
Most Christians are not engaged in professional ministry. They do not preach or sing or work for an evangelistic agency. Their time between Sundays is spent doing jobs that don’t seem to have value for the spread of the gospel. Therefore, some believers may view themselves as second-class disciples. To such members of our churches, Paul addressed an enormous view point of secular work when he wrote, “obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, in sincerity of heart, fearing God”. We need to understand, if God’s purposes in this world are to be fulfilled, we need a structured society with all its indispensable activities. The people we work for are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether they know it or not, our employers are carrying out God’s good purposes. As long as the assigned task is not sinful or unethical, when we serve those who rule over us we are serving the Lord. So let’s view our daily work-whatever it is-as an extension of God’s work in the world. As we do so, we will find there is no better place to spread the good news of salvation than right where God has placed us.
While some Christians are called and equipped to be pastors, teachers and evangelists, all God’s people-wherever they are and what ever their calling, are called to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians in the work place are called to stand up and partner with God in what He is doing in the nation today. Most of us spend up to 60% of our waking hours in our workplaces where we relate to a number of non-believers, bosses, colleagues, subordinates, suppliers and the like. It is the place where we can glorify the Lord Jesus through the effective use of our abilities, gifts and experience and share Him with people around us. To a Christian, his or her work place is the mission-field.
Every Christian is called to impact the workplace for Jesus Christ through his life and his words. When the secular world has a kind of ‘chalta hai’ attitude, we as Christians are called to have a commitment to excellence in the work place for the glory of God alone, by crucifying the flesh with all its passions and desires. This is really a challenge for a Christian to face up to difficulties in the work place. Living with integrity is another challenge while all the people make compromises in areas of relationships, finances, work and word. But as a Christian we need to realize that the organization we work for and the roles we play in those organizations are all part of God’s redemptive plan. Whether we are a teacher, doctor, engineer, IT executive or a call center worker, God, being crucial to His redemptive plan places us all in different capacities. Once you understand this, it can make a whole lot of difference as to how we view our work and how we glorify our Lord in the place of our work. There is no scope for a “chalta hai” attitude to work. When we work at everything with all our hearts as unto the Lord and not unto men, with only expectation of an inheritance from the Lord as a reward, it changes the very nature of our work. We begin to enjoy what we do and wish to excel in it all times, simply because it is an expression our worship. Our joy in the work is not dependent on the kind of work we do, but the attitude with which we approach our work. George Herbert was a gifted English poet. At one point in his life he was not sure he wanted to do what God wanted him to do. Being the pastor of a church didn’t appeal to him, even though he sensed that God was directing him to that vocation. He hesitated because he felt that he would have to give up too much. After a time of rebellious struggle, he came to realize that submitting to Christ’s Lordship is the way out of self-centered bondage. He also came to realize that serving the savior does not usually entail heroic martyrdom. Rather, it is the willingness and worshipful performance of the most menial tasks for His glory. Many of God’s people are troubled because they can’t give themselves to what is called “fulltime ministry”. All of us, though, whatever our job- accounting, nursing, teaching or something else – need to recognize that we are always to work for the Lord. Any job will take on greater significance if we consciously do our work for the Lord.