Faith & Work: An Uneasy Alliance – If Work is a Gift from God, Why is it so Hard? – 6 of 8
Have you ever wondered why work requires such a huge effort to achieve a modest result? For example, if you’re in sales, you may contact 30 customers to make a single sale. Plus, customers complain, bosses grumble, and co-workers gripe! Sometimes it seems like the whole universe is aligned against you. Why is work so hard? The Bible is clear that work is a good gift from God, but work became more difficult after sin entered the world (Genesis 3:17-19). Because of man’s sin, nature would no longer respond to man’s work initiative with the same efficiency it did before the Fall. Blood, sweat and tears would now be required to coax fruitfulness from our labor. Please note that it is not “work” itself that God cursed, but the ground. This is a subtle but crucial distinction. The curse made work and the work environment much more difficult, but work itself is still a good gift from God, and we need to remember that.
Sin also negatively affects us as workers in the system. When Adam and Eve sinned, it resulted in a change in man’s basic nature. Before the fall, mankind had no sinful inclinations and no guilt. Their hearts, which once were inclined toward God, now were inclined toward evil. And Adam’s sinful inclinations became our sinful inclinations. Sin is failing to let God be God and placing something or someone in God’s rightful place of supremacy. It is any evil action or evil motive that is in opposition to God’s will. The frustration we experience in the marketplace can be traced directly or indirectly to sin. Think of how much better things would be if everyone were honest. What if everyone took personal responsibility for their actions? What if people didn’t worry about who got the credit? What if company executives were as concerned about their employees as they were about making a profit? What if everyone was consistently gracious and kind and forgiving? Work itself is not the problem. Sin is the problem.
But as Christians, working together, we can make a difference in the workplace. Remember that you represent Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17–20). You are a Christian first and a policeman or insurance salesman, or engineer second. Your faith is not incidental to your job, it is instrumental. You are not a plumber who happens to be a Christian, you are a Christian who happens to be a plumber. The difference is huge. Determine to conduct yourself in a way that you will make God attractive (Titus 2:9-10). Have a positive, “can do” attitude. Do your best to reach or exceed your supervisor’s expectations. Don’t be argumentative. Be honest; don’t pilfer at work. Five dollars here, a pad of paper there. A few postage stamps here or a computer motherboard there. No one is going to miss it. A few hours pilfered away here, a few hours there. No big deal, everybody does it, right? Everybody may, but it is still wrong! It is stealing, and it mars your Christian testimony (Romans 2:23–24).
Christians need integrity. All of life is sacred. All of life is lived under Christ’s Lordship. Christians are not perfect, but they should be consistent, and that makes God attractive. So be trustworthy, dependable, reliable, responsible, truthful, and honest. God’s way of dealing with sin’s negative influence in the workplace is to change the worker. That is where Jesus comes in. Through “regeneration” God imparts spiritual life to us. We are forgiven and reconciled to God. We are adopted into God’s family, and we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit then works to form the character of Jesus within us. Transformed people glorify him on the job and make Christ attractive to others (Romans 12:1-2).
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Remember that you represent Jesus Christ. Pray “The Worker’s Prayer” daily.
- Determine to conduct yourself on the job in a way that will make God attractive.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)