Free For All Friday – "The Privilege of Work"

In order to wet your appetite for Andrew’s upcoming message this Sunday night on work and the Christian life – here’s a post by one of Mercy Hill’s members Jeremy Dager.

Don’t worry – that is not a typo in the title.  It really is supposed to say the privilege of work.  Of course for most of us who suffer through laborious class hours, long nights studying, a mundane job, and, of course, overtime – this seems paradoxical.  But its not – I promise.  Work is a privilege because it is one of the primary ways in which we glorify God and it’s not until we fully understand this deeply rooted biblical concept that we can better approach our everyday.

Abraham Kuyper once famously said, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’”

Now I know what you’re thinking.  What does a dead Dutch dude from 100 years ago have to do with college and work?  Everything.  It was men like Kuyper in the Dutch reformed movement along with the Puritans a few years earlier that began to re-shape the way Christians viewed God and work.  They taught that God and work were not separate entities – we do not merely glorify God at our work place but we glorify Him through our work.

I own a 2004 Honda Civic.  It’s a great little car that gets my family and I from point A to point B.  Being the anal car owner that I am I make sure to keep it in great condition.  I have a ready supply of fuel injector cleaner that I use every other time I gas up.  I take it to get the oil changed every 3,000 miles.  And of course it goes through its fair share of car washes to keep it nice and clean.  Let me ask you this: does any of this stuff change the purpose of my car?

Well not really.  Sure they help add a certain value to the car but the car still has value and maintains its inherent purpose of transportation with or without my obsessive ownership tendencies.  The same is true of our work.  We don’t need to add things to our work – like evangelizing our co-workers or having an honest work ethic – in order for our work to bring God glory.  Don’t get me wrong, those things are extremely valuable as we are ambassadors of Christ and we should strive daily to apply them whenever and wherever.  But we must not forget that work in and of itself is valuable to God.

How do we know this?  In Genesis 1 we find God creating man – placing him in the garden – and giving him a very specific instruction: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (NASB).  Note the timeline of events – God’s creation mandate as it is often called occurred before the fall of man (Genesis 3).  Therefore as Leland Ryken notes, “work is appointed by God, [it] is the arena within which people live as stewards under God’s oversight, and is part of the dignity that God has conferred on the human race.”[1]

Speaking of Jesus Paul says in Colossians, “All things have been created by him and for him” (1:16b).  That all includes the work that God laid before man in the garden.  This means then that we find fulfillment not in our work but in bringing glory to the One who created us to work.  We don’t necessarily look to what our work can give us but what we give God through our work.  Understanding and applying this could radically transform the way you spend your laboring hours.

It transforms mundane tasks into opportunities to glorify God in fulfilling what you were created to do.  It gives us a new sense of purpose outside of simply making a paycheck and working for the weekend.  Of course there will be days when we don’t feel like working but it’s at those moments most of all that we need to be reminded about the greater purpose of our nine to five.  Giving God glory through our work is not just something we have to do it’s something we were created to do.  Allow this truth to sink in deep and then get to work!


[1] Leland Ryken, Redeeming the Time, 174

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