A Christian farmer—Chris, and an atheist farmer—Carl, were neighbors. They both worked long days, but on Sunday Chris went to church and did no work in the field.
Carl worked most Sundays, especially when the weather threatened. In the spring he plowed on Sunday if Monday’s forecast called for rain. A fall Sunday might find him harvesting before Monday’s expected rain could spoil the crop.
Chris never plowed on Sunday even if that was the only suitable day. In the fall, if a Sunday rain fell on his cut hay before it was baled, it lost some value.
Then came the fall harvest time. They took their crops to town. Carl received the bigger check and gloated, “Where is your God now?” But Chris just smiled and said, “My God doesn’t settle all his accounts in October.”
I thought about that little fable recently when my friend Jim Goertz, a successful business owner, wrote, “I have always believed that payday is not Friday.” He went on to describe some of his early career experiences. In that context, he noted, “Few Christians in my opinion have a high enough view of two things: God and work.”
Too many employees live for the weekend, focus on the paycheck, and lose sight of the big picture, that is, the biblical value of work.
Work is God’s gift to humans
Genesis tell us that God put the human in the garden to “work it and keep it.” That’s a creation principle. That’s how God’s world works. So, when the human does that, his life flourishes.
This is a general principle, not an airtight guarantee. Are there any exceptions? Of course: consider the story of Job. God does not promise to make anyone rich. He is not beholden to any human, (the prosperity gospel notwithstanding). Nevertheless, hard work and success go together in the same way that exercise and fitness go together.
If I need a reminder of how this principle plays out, I think about Jim. He’s one of the wealthiest people I know, and one of the hardest workers as well. Jim owns and operates a multi-million dollar business with contracts in several countries of the world. He employs about 100 people and gives generously to Christian mission and ministry organizations.
Work and worship are two sides of one coin
Some months ago Darrow Miller wrote about the Old Testament word avodah. This Hebrew term is translated three ways in English: serve, work and worship. Darrow pointed out that the word “reveals that the nature of the Hebrew mind is wholistic, integrative and comprehensive.”
Few Christian workers have made the connection between their work and their worship. The latter happens on Sundays, the former Monday morning till Friday evening, the beginning of the weekend, that hallowed, 48-hour hiatus that makes life bearable for so many workers.
But God has so much more in mind for our work life, as Jim’s testimony reflects.
As an employee I decided early on to do my work as unto the Lord, the “Audience of One” as Os Guinness says. I look back on my life and cannot believe how blessed I have been for simply being obedient to what I think Scripture teaches about our work. Darrow’s book … “LifeWork” says it more clearly than I ever could. I continue to hand it out regularly. We also did Monday Church as a devotional for all of our management meetings last year.
Monday Church is a free, online course which will give you “a biblical framework … to establish a meaningful, integrated understanding of your life and work.”
Go here to buy your own copy of LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day.
What might the world look like … what might your life look like … if we got a handle on this everyday matter?
- Gary Brumbelow
JonMay 27, 2019 - 6:26 pm
I am convinced that work and family are the primary way in which God changes the world.
They predate the fall of man.