Part 6 in the Series
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
If you think about it, life can be broken into a few major chunks of time:
- The time we spend working (whatever work may mean to you).
- The time we spend resting (sleep, resting, +1 Days, and such).
- The time we spend on everything else after work and before sleep.
Of those three broad categories, the biggest bulk of time is WORK, yet how many sermons and practical teaching have you experienced focusing directly on the subject of work-time. Likely MUCH LESS than the other two.
In solving for ‘R’ in the equation R=6+1 (which you hopefully know by now!) Altar has intentionally focused on the +1 (pausing, stopping, resting…) aspect of this equation as we have forsaken the art of ceasing and resting in your weekly rhythms and it is having a major impact on every area of life. Thankfully, people following and participating with Altar are taking these lessons seriously and making adjustments in their weekly rhythms to bring goodness, renewal and restoration back into their lives…we love it! But we would be late or miss on the hook set if we did not address the largest part of the rhythm equation–the 6 days given to work.
Two of the great theological tragedies many of us have come to believe are:
- Work is a curse and a result of the fall of mankind (Genesis 3).
- There are two kinds of work: sacred (work unto God) and secular (work that encompasses everything else).
Today, we challenge these common beliefs and examine work, and specifically YOUR work, as something greater than you may think in two pages or less. Here we go!
FIRST: Work is NOT a curse, but part of the image God created in all of us.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground…The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. [Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15]
This is the account of creation, before the Fall (when sin and the curses entered the world–Genesis 3). What we discover in these words is that the world God made good, and God delights in his creation and part of this creation encompassed work. The work given to mankind has been termed the cultural mandate. Humanity is set apart to cultivate and work with your gifts and the things of this world to make something of it. Not only is work good, but we are created in the image of God who is a worker and He is still working today. Our challenge is that we have only forgotten how to rest and renew in the flow of work/being “on.”
So guard against the notion that work is a result of evil coming into the world and that we are better off if we did not have to work. When people lose or go without meaningful work (which can be defined in many ways as we will see), they tend to spiral downward into depression or find themselves on wayward paths.
Remember, work is good, given to us by God, and part of how He wired us to contribute goodness in the world he made.
SECOND: ALL work counts as good and an act of worship when it serves God, others, and the world God created.
How many times have you heard things like:
- Are you in ministry or do you do something else?
- I’m thinking about leaving my current job to serve God in…(church, nonprofit, other ministry vocations).
- I love my job, but I want to do something for God.
The Greek philosophy dating back to Plato made a division between that which was sacred and secular that still influences our thinking today. The question is: Is it true?
When we consider the cultural mandate given us at creation–to make something of this world (paraphrased from Genesis 1-2), it stretches us to see that all kinds of work is good…not just vocational work in the church or some other religious organization. Adam and Eve tended the Garden of Eden, named animals, built stuff. They were botanists, landscapers, zoologists, farmers, organic clothing designers, construction workers and more. It was through their work they honored God and make something of the world around them.
Tim Keller in his book Every Good Endeavor, defines work as, “Rearranging the raw materials of a particular domain to draw out its potential for the flourishing of everyone.” That means work such as parenting, teaching, manufacturing, practicing law, medicine, picking up garbage, counseling, working in the trades and construction, (and thousands of other jobs) COUNT AS GOOD by God and mankind.
This means there is no sacred and secular work. I know. Take a deep breath…you will be fine once this realization sets in. Good work given to us by God allows us to use our gifts to contribute, create, serve, produce and more for the good of others and/or creation. Work that harms, degrades or suppresses others is not good and does not honor God.
Working to Please God
Altar’s hope is that you find greater significance in the work you get to do most days that ignites fresh passion and perspective within you, and enables you to love and respect others more for the work they get to do–which likely benefits you, society and/or the world in some way. All God desires of your work is this:
- Discover and use the giftedness and abilities God has given you.
- Do your work as a thank you performance to and in honor of God–whether changing diapers, leading a company, or somewhere in between.
- Learn to delight in the work you have done and recognize your role in the cultural mandate to serve others, society and the world in healthy ways.
When you take in all these thoughts, the work you do and role you play matters greatly in all their various forms as long as it contributes positively toward creation, society, and/or people. The ordinary actually becomes extraordinary. Hopefully this is an encouragement and motivates you to adopt Colossians 3:17 (above) as a core prayer in your 6 days, leading to your +1 Day–of which we will delight and express gratitude as we remember the work given to us.
- Have you ever viewed work as a curse? What led to this belief?
- What is the “work” you do most days?
- How does your work contribute positively toward others, society or the world?
- Spend a few minutes delighting in the work you have done this past week and build this kind of thanksgiving into you upcoming +1 Days.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES FROM THIS DEVOTIONAL
- John Mark Comer, Garden City
- Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor
Eric Camfield | July 2023