Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Purpose Of Work

Recently I have taken on a job to support our ministry here in Quebec. It is not the easiest place in the world to serve the Lord. It was a place that, for decades, was blanketed in a religion that played on guilt. In recent years people have thrown off these shackles, not in pursuit of Christ but instead in pursuit of self. It is a place that is plagued by false teachings, false ideologies and a terrible spirit of self destiny. This makes it difficult, but no impossible, to develop great ministries. All this to say, most ministers here need to work to support the ministry as we continue to stand strong to reflect the light of Christ in a very dark land.

Having to work in this manner it is important for us to keep our perspective and priorities right in order not to fall into the trap of this world. After all, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul. In this case it is better to be a beggar on the street corner with a heart right with God than to be a rich man in his palace with an empty soul. We do know that when God was emphasizing to Israel the importance of obedience and doing what is right, he told them that he would bless the work of their hands:

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deuteronomy 24:19)

That's just one simple verse as an example, but Deuteronomy is filled with this promise to bless the work of our hands. In Proverbs 16 we find another promise:

Commit to the LORD whatever you do,    and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)

This is all fine and good and many Christians lean on these promises for encouragement, as they should, but Jesus brought us to a different place. He didn't change anything, he only brought us to a deeper place where we gain a much different perspective on the matter.

First of all, our priorities have changed from seeing what we can get out of God to seeing what we can contribute to the mission in response to his love. Our perspective has changed from self to God and others:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

Unfortunately some people take this the wrong way and figure they can just sit back now and God will put the food on the table, which he does, but often through the blessing of the work of our hands. The difference now is that we understand the work of our hands is also meant to bless others. We don't make our work what we rely on but instead it becomes a source of blessings to others, but this means we need to work:

We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. (2 Thessalonians 3:11-13) 

Those who are possessed of the Spirit and who are mature in the Word of God understand how God works through us to bless others. In our obedience he increases the blessings of the work of our hands so that the overflow will be a rich blessings to others. If every believer could understand this, throwing off the pattern of this world, we would discover a much different Church:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. (Acts 2:42-45)

The place where Jesus has brought us to is that we no longer live for self but instead we live for God. We no longer work for self, we work for God. We no longer work to provide for our needs but we work to allow God to provide for the needs of others, the Church, ministries, and to be a blessing. In this God also provides richly for us. As we have received from God we must give to others as we are compelled by the love of Christ. It is no longer the mentality of what we can get out of God for ourselves but instead how we can contribute to what God is doing in the lives of others. This is the purpose of the work of our hands.

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