God’s Plan for WorkBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Everyone might like the idea of taking a permanent vacation, but in reality work has been part of God's plan for mankind from the beginning.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden." (Gen. 2:15–16)
This interaction between God and the first man took place before sin entered the earth. The Lord has always intended for us to work and eat the fruit of our labors. Idleness has never been part of his will. In fact, "having nothing to do" is part of the fall of man. We know that Jesus came to save us from sin and bring us into the Kingdom of God. In Matthew 20, he tells a parable that illustrates his call for us:
He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, "You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right." So they went. (verses 2–5)
God is calling us to labor in His vineyard. He wants to rescue us from idleness by calling us to work, and he has enough going on to keep all of us busy. Not only that, he has promised to reward us for our labor. It just does not get better than that!
It is easy to imagine that we are laboring in God's vineyard when we volunteer for our church or do other ministry work. Yet God intends that the marketplace jobs we do every day be set apart for his glory just as much as if we were pastoring a church or traveling as an evangelist. God wants us to see all the work we do as a holy calling. Paul said it this way: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Col. 3:23).
Work is a blessing. We all understand this when we are out of a job and need to find employment to keep the bills paid. Yet God's purpose for our work goes so far beyond meeting our financial needs. Each job or "assignment" we receive from Him is part of His divine plan to expand His Kingdom. Unfortunately, there are still people—and some believers are among them—who stand idle in the marketplace just like the men in the parable. Some are lazy, but others simply do not understand why they are there. They do not know God's plan for work.
God wants to make sure we are fulfilling the roles he prepared for us before we were born. The Bible teaches us that God judges us based on our stewardship of what he entrusts to us in this life. When it comes to our professional lives, we know he is interested in how we spend the money we earn and how we treat the people we meet. Do we also realize that he is just as interested in the quality of the work we do?
Passport to the Lost
Think about the lives of missionaries. They leave the comfort of their homeland to take the Gospel to people who would never have the chance to hear it otherwise. Missionaries know when they enter a new land that they may be the only representatives of Jesus Christ that the people ever see. They conduct themselves in a way that is above reproach to avoid hurting their Lord's reputation. In short, they live their lives on the mission field exactly the way we should live our lives when we go into the marketplace.
The most obvious meaning of the word missionary is "someone on a mission." That is who we are! First and foremost, our work in the marketplace is a passport that affords us entrance into the lives of lost people we would never otherwise meet. They may be struggling in their families, suffering from past hurts, or simply searching for purpose and meaning in life. They are people made in the image of God, people whom he loves dearly.
Think of it—you may be the only real Christian that the people on your job ever get to see. With every breath you take and every step you make, he is calling you to fulfill the Great Commission. Certainly our Sovereign God does not need our help, yet in his mercy he has chosen to use you and me. When we cooperate with God's plan for us to live out our faith on the job, our lives become enormously full, joyous, and purposeful.
God is calling us to take the Gospel to those we supervise, to our coworkers, and even to our superiors. That is what it means to be salt and light in the marketplace! Just as God sends missionaries overseas to bring the Gospel to other cultures, he sends each one of us to our unique professional subculture to carry his Good News. When men and women see us as loving and compassionate people who set a standard for excellence in all we do, they will be drawn to the God we serve.
In order for us to accomplish our mission, however, we must understand the importance of the positions we hold and the professional roles we play. We must understand that God will give us the wisdom and strength to please our earthly bosses and our heavenly Boss! We do not need to compromise one for the other. When we are focused on faithfully representing Jesus in our character, conduct, and work ethic, we cannot help but perform on the job with excellence.
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
Taking Jesus to Work: Living Out Your Faith on the Job by Vera R. Jackson
Copyright © 2008; ISBN 9780800794613
Published by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group