By Titus Wanyonyi, Bethel Seminary St. Paul
While engaged with my colleagues recently about why we work, but for my lone dissenting voice, it was near unanimous that money was the ultimate reason. Money and what it can buy gives us our human worth.
Indeed money is good, but more so what it can do. Working for money however only leads us into an endless rat race for what we can’t get: satisfaction. Jesus said, “Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (Luke 12:15 MSG) and Hewitt and Moline wrote, “Don’t let your balance sheet determine your self worth.” It’s not what we have and do but our relationship with our Creator that gives us worth and purpose in life. “Our primary calling as followers of Christ,” Nelson says, “is by Him, to Him, and for Him. First and foremost we are called to someone, not to something or to somewhere. Hard work, however noble, without a relationship with the Father proves empty, meaningless, and despairing.”
It’s only when we fulfill the purpose of our creation that work becomes meaningful. We were created for relationship, to work God’s land, and care for His creation. As Keller points out, God owns the world, but He has put it under our care to cultivate it. We are His stewards for His glory. In our work, we act as priests offering acceptable sacrifices with our workstations as altars. As Nelson says, “Our work, whatever it is, is to be an act of worship,” calling it “living and working before the Audience of One.”
What it means
Work is not about us but about God, His people, and His creation. Sherman says, “Our motivation for work is all about God and His work, His mission. If the point of work is to serve and exalt ourselves, then our work inevitably becomes less about the work and more about us.” This leads to idolatry. When it’s about God, however, we do it with reverence, diligence, and humility, giving glory to Him.
However, as Nelson quotes Martin Luther, “God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.” We serve God by what we do in service to God’s people.
Not all do this though. Only the righteous, the tsaddiqim, are able to do this. When they prosper, the city rejoices. They hold loosely what God has given them, knowing they’re God’s stewards for the good of His people and His glory. God also trusted us with His creation not just to use, but to take care of, preserve, and protect so that it can be more fruitful.
My greatest challenge is to be found a faithful steward of God’s resources. Not only have I suffered from the dichotomy of work and worship, I have also looked at God’s resources in my hands as my own, not a grace extended to me for His people and His glory. These are areas I must make my mission, both to do and teach so that His people and I can be found worthy stewards of His resources and creation.
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