The Beautiful Simplicity of Serving God in Our Daily Work

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use... Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.

2 Timothy 2:20-22

A few months ago, a famous person came to our house for a party. My wife works for a community theater that hosts a variety of performers—from community theater troupes to Broadway traveling shows. During a small after party for one of these events, the famous person brought his family. To. My. House. Because I'm incredibly shallow, I began to worry about everything—the plastic red cups, the styrofoam plates, and especially the potluck style, down-home normality of our party.

Our normal utensils felt a little too cheap. I wanted to offer something special, something a little more honorable than ordinary everyday stuff.

This is the gist of Paul's metaphor in his letter to Timothy in which he explains the idea of holiness. Special silver utensils and special gold serving plates are for special occasions. They are set apart. This is what it means to be holy.

As editor of The High Calling, where the sacredness of daily life is one of our essential messages, I struggle with Paul's metaphor. Don't live like a common, ordinary clay pot? In verse 21, Paul even implies that such ordinary things are not holy, not sacred! On the surface, this passage seems to caution us from placing too much value on ordinary tasks and daily work.

By this logic, my wife should shun community theater and only use her performance talents in a traditional worship setting. My friend the stone mason should only build churches. Teachers should try to hire on at private Christian schools. By this logic, we should focus our lives instead on activities that are truly holy.

But this is not Paul's point at all.

God doesn't want us all to quit our daily jobs any more than he wants us all to start eating every meal with silver spoons. The metaphor of the gold utensils is not a reference to our vocational activities, but to our spiritual goals as we go about those activities.

This is the beautiful simplicity of serving God in our daily work.

A public school teacher can be a "special utensil for honorable use" when she pursues love and peace with her students and colleagues. A stone mason can be "ready for the Master," when he is righteous and faithful. And the office manager of a small town theater can "serve God in every good work" when she calls upon the Lord with a pure heart and offers her work, her home, and even her red plastic cups in service to others.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Think about what is ahead for you in the next few days. As you go about these tasks, how can you pursue righteousness? Faithfulness? Love? Peace?

PRAYER: Dear God, I want to live in a way that honors you. Protect me from anything that stimulates youthful lusts and sinful desires. Even more, help me run from these things to seek peace and comfort with you. Create in me a pure heart, O God.

Help me also to see the sacredness of daily life. Help me pursue righteousness in all that I do. Help me see my ordinary work as an act of faithfulness to you. Help me love others. Help me be an instrument of your peace. In the name of Jesus, I pray these things. Amen.


Simplicity at Work

In our complicated, 21st century, high-tech, high-speed world, people have begun to crave a simpler approach to life and work. In the series Simplicity at Work, The High Calling explores simplicity in the places we work and the ways we work; and, perhaps more subtly, we want to explore simplicity at work in us through a variety of stories that reveal ways people find freedom and success when they simplify. Join us for Bible reflections, featured articles, and discussion. Invite your colleagues to do the same.

Image at top by Samual John. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr. Photo and design at bottom by Jennifer Dukes Lee.