Most of us who have retired from our vocational work have discovered the need to continue working to fill in the time. It has been just a little more than six years since I retired from the pastorate and my wife and I have continued to teach Bible studies, help neighbors on building projects, keep up our place, make kindling and campfire wood for a local grocery store, take care of our four acres, including a 40’ X 100’ foot vegetable garden, etc. I also teach tennis lessons, help with the high school tennis team and Kathy and I are both members of U Serve Libby, Inc., that does fund-raisers to help pay off and maintain our tennis courts. Kathy serves on the hospital board and I fill in the pulpit occasionally. I continue to work on some books to publish and do the weekly devotional, “Wisdom of the Week.” In spite of all that, there are still times that we get a bit “bored” and miss the contact with people we had while pastoring a church.
I say all that to emphasize the fact that God created us to be workers. Some folks seem to think that work was part of the curse on the earth because of sin, but before sin took place in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were placed there with the task of cultivating and keeping the Garden (Gen. 2:15). God also told them to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Labor was complicated and became wearisome because of the Fall (Gen. 3:17,19), but it didn’t change the fact that God created us to be workers and His commission to cultivate, and care for the earth and to subdue and rule over the earth is still in effect. As a result of sin, work is often laborious, stressful, and unappreciated, yet His Word says (the Apostle Paul speaking): “And make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need… If anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (I Thes. 4:11,12; II Thes. 3:10).
As believers we are not to work just for a paycheck, to earn a living, to provide for our family. Paul writes: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father…Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:17, 23,24). It may be difficult for the Christian to get hold of the idea that their daily labors can be performed as acts of worship, acceptable to God, but when one does gain that perspective, what a difference it makes in one’s attitude towards his/her work–to realize that it is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. “Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act” (A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God). Whatever our job is –assuming it is honorable—it can be regarded as serving Christ and helping to fulfill His primeval dominion commandment and even helping others to come to know Him. Therefore, whether the work is easy or hard, we should be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).
How, specifically, can we glorify God in our work? First, we should prayerfully commit ourselves to do the best job we can. As professing Christians, our testimony is on the line. We can be enthusiastic and diligent about our responsibilities, or we can just plod through a job. How we do our job can be a testimony to the people who pay our salaries and to our co-workers. Our work is as big a witness as our words. It’s called life-style evangelism (Mt. 5:14-16). A person’s work can provide the means for showing the world the difference Christ makes in a person’s attitude toward work. It also can enable the Christian to find satisfaction in a job well done. What we do must support what we say. Unenthusiastic, sloppy work will greatly hinder a believer’s witness on the job. Second, we need to have an attitude of humility. Christ demonstrated a humble attitude during His earthly ministry. On one occasion, for example, He washed the feet of those who should have been serving Him (Jn. 13:2-15). Every level of job responsibility can be done to the glory of God. The key is, no matter the position, we need to have a servant’s heart, knowing that we are ultimately doing our work unto the Lord.
Praise God, Jesus completed the work He was sent to perform (Jn. 17:4), to offer His life a sacrifice for our sin (II Cor. 5:21). His work was to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus was able to say from the cross, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). Because Jesus finished His work, we have experienced forgiveness and received eternal life. We know that one day we will pass into a new sphere of service in heaven. May our work here prepare us for faithful service for Him in eternity.