The Christian Work Ethic

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…

Colossians 3:23

Yesterday, I accompanied my wife to the garden center. Few things give her more pleasure than plants and flowers. As for me, well, I’m content with supporting her habit. I push the buggy and do my best to smile through the ordeal.

Her flower garden is her passion, and she pushes herself to the brink of her physical limitations to do the hard work required. On those rare occasions when she persuades me to join her for a little digging in the dirt, my enthusiasm for the task is considerably less than hers. It’s just not my thing.

That’s the way we approach work projects. If we’re involved in something we love, then we give it all we have. But if it’s something we care little about or dislike, then we do just enough to get by.

The Apostle Paul addressed the Christian work ethic in our focus text. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart.”

Most of my life, I’ve been blessed with jobs I loved. But along the way, I also had some jobs I took out of necessity. You’ve probably had some jobs like that. You dread going to work and can’t wait until quitting time.

But regardless of our opinion of our work, we should always give our best, “as working for the Lord.”

Some people in Paul’s day suffered from short-timer syndrome. Jesus was coming back soon to take them away from the drudgery of life. Others saw their newfound freedom in Christ as an excuse for slothfulness.

In all our pursuits, since surrendering to Christ, we work for the Lord. And we should act like it.

Perhaps you have a job that makes you miserable. But you also have a means of income; something for which to be thankful. Approach your work with an attitude of gratitude.

Possibly, your boss treats you badly, but at least you have a boss. Be thankful. Your hard and efficient work in the midst of a difficult situation demonstrates your love and faithfulness to Christ.

I’m reminded of something Jesus said about love. In Matthew 5:44, He told us to love our enemies. Let’s be honest. That’s a tough command to follow. Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”  His point is that it’s easy to love those who love us. Anybody can do it. But Christians are capable of so much more. We have the capacity for loving those who despise us. You and I have been given divine enablement for doing what the world can’t.

The same is true for instructions regarding our work ethic. Even though we’re in an unpleasant, thankless, or difficult job situation, we can rise above the urge to sluff off or do just enough to get by. We show ourselves to be God’s children by doing our best despite the way we feel. Remember, you don’t work for man. You work for God.

Just because we’re underpaid doesn’t mean we should under-perform. Only excellence is worthy of our Lord.

Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September)

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