Reflecting on Work

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Ephesians 4:28

Hard Work, Good Work: Part 1

You probably know that the Daily Reflections are a central part of a digital media program known as The High Calling, which is sponsored by the The H. E. Butt Family Foundation. The High Calling includes a website, an app, the Daily Reflections, a weekly newsletter, video resources, occasional printed resources, and social media conversation platforms (Facebook, Twitter).

You may also know that one of the central purposes of The High Calling is to help you discover and respond to your "high calling" from God to live all of life—especially in your work—for God's glory and kingdom. When we speak of work, by the way, we don't refer only to that for which you are paid. Work includes changing diapers, mowing the lawn, leading a Bible study, volunteering in a homeless shelter, writing an essay for school, and so much more.

Ephesians 4:28 provides an opportunity for us to reflect on work. At first glance, this verse seems irrelevant to most of us, since it specifically addresses thieves: "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need." It comes as no surprise that thieves are told to stop their thievery, given the clarity of the eighth commandment: "You shall not steal" (Exod. 20:15). Paul urges those who have been stealing to start working instead. What he says about work speaks to all of us, whether or not we struggle with kleptomania. (The Greek verb translated here as "stealing" is klepto, by the way.)

In the next few days, I'll reflect on what Ephesians 4:28 says to us about our work. Before I get into the details, I'd like to invite you to begin to consider how this verse speaks to you. If you were to paraphrase it in a personal way, you'd get something like: "You must work, doing something useful with your own hands, so that you may have something to share with those in need." Take time to reflect on this, using the following questions.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you read the imperative, "You must work," how do you feel? How to you think and feel about your own work? Why do you work?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for Ephesians 4:28, which speaks about work. As we take time to study and reflect upon this verse, give us new wisdom so that we might think about our work as you do. Give us new energy to do the work you have called us to do, so that we might serve you with all that we are. Amen.


Pencils Down

Quitting time would be easier if deadlines, insecurity, perfectionism, and expectations disappeared. We could simply lay our pencils down and walk away from the task in peace. Unfortunately, this is not our experience. The urgent trumps the important. The urgent trumps the clock, too. “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for God grants sleep to those he loves.” Conceptually appealing, yet realistically challenging when pressure knocks on the door, the wisdom of the Psalmist often fails to change our ways.

This article is part of a series at The High Calling called Pencils Down. Our hope is that in everything, from to-do lists to identity, we will be encouraged to make small advances toward stopping when it’s time to stop.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in The H. E. Butt Family Foundation.