By Jonathan Nelson, Bethel Seminary St. Paul
One of the most helpful passages in Scripture regarding work is 1 Peter 4:11b which states, “If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (NIV). Understanding that our work is service, both to God and to people, Peter is urging his readers to use the strength that God provides to fulfill their work duties. This sounds nice, but how do we use God’s strength in our work? What would this look like?
In my experience, using God’s strength in our work involves a daily acknowledgment of our inability to do kingdom work apart from the help and strength of God. Jesus models this in his own life, as he tells his disciples in the gospel of John that he can do nothing on his own, rather he only does what he sees God the Father doing (John 7). This daily acknowledgment of our helplessness apart from God drives us to fervently ask for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to do our daily work in a way that pleases God.
It is important to note here that, at least in one sense, that it seems possible to do our work apart from God’s strength. And I believe, at least in one sense, this is true. But it is impossible to do our work in a way that pleases God (kingdom work) apart from the help of God—to do our work with excellence, without complaining, with a God-glorifying attitude, with His joy in our hearts, etc. This is simply impossible to fulfill in our own strength. We need the help of God to do our work in way that pleases and glorifies him. And this is what 1 Peter 4:11 ends with—God’s glory, which is the ultimate purpose of our work. When we acknowledge our weakness and rely on God’s power in our work, he receives the glory and we experience the ultimate meaning and purpose that God has for us in our work.