The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2:15
Christians often consider work a result of the fall. Genesis teaches us that work is God’s idea for man even before the fall. Painful toil which we experience through work is a result of the fall which was added to man’s work and therefore makes working hard nevertheless, men are called to work.
As a result of this some are lazy and detest work and some long to be challenged. The city of Mumbai also known as the city that does not sleep is a city of dreams for many Indians and the financial hub of India. As a Mumbaikar I can have right reasons to be proud of my city but there are reasons why one could be saddened as well.
This is around 10 hours a day 7 day a week. The average Mumbaikar in addition to this, spends about 2 hrs. a day traveling to work and back.
It will not take long before other big cities in India will also soon catch up with this lifestyle of busy work culture and many are not too far behind. Living in such demanding environment and at the same time being committed to family, the local church and over all to be obedient to God’s command and be grounded in his word makes it hard for a Christian.
A good question to ask then is, How can a Christian who is working in the world be grounded in God’s word? As someone who has worked in a secular setup and has failed at times and at times stood because of God’s grace, I would want to share few helpful truths from God’s word that can help others who face the challenges of working in the world.
1. Remember sin is crouching at your door: The temptations for you are galore either if you are a young man or woman or an adult in your 50s there is no Christian who can say they have achieved the height of their sanctification. Paul says the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. The enemy is always seeking to guide people astray and into sin. He does not come to us as a horrific fearful person his temptations come to us as our best friend. We see in James 1:14 each one is tempted when by his own evil desires, he is lured away and enticed.
If you are young and working in an environment like the ones where I worked where drunkenness, drugs, sex and a rush for power, fame and riches is normal and if your heart desires such things refrain from working in such an environment. Seek godly counsel to know if this is a weakness. Christians who know you well, who can speak the truth in love specially your Pastor and other Christians will be those you would want to go to. If you do not see this as your weakness, be prepared to make right decisions when the occasion for it arrives.
Here are some good moral and wisdom questions you would want to ask yourself. What do you do when a colleague of the opposite sex asks you to spend the evening alone with them. Should you be going? What about going out for a meal alone or when at a party a college of the opposite sex wants to dance with you? Can you go to a office party and stay away from drunkenness and drugs? Are you content with God’s gifts towards you according to His sovereign plan in your life in whatever season of life you are in either in riches or little? Do you tend to desire to get the riches of the world, to seek quick growth to power and fame?
The Apostle Peter reminds us through God’s word in 2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. Paul also reminds young Timothy and even us through God’s word in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The word of God has answers to all of life’s questions. God’s word is sufficient for life and godliness. These answers may not always be in their specifics but obeying the general commands of God for us teaches us to refrain from those choices that can easily cause us to stumble.
Some of these choices may be wisdom calls and some may be moral choices which is as plain as black and white from God’s word. For example, there isn’t a scripture reference that tells us whether going to a colleague’s house alone who is of the opposite sex is right or wrong. However, you are being put in a vulnerable place and can easily be lead into sexual sin. Even though the bible does not tell us how to make this specific choice, the fact of knowing God’s general command that sex outside of marriage is sin and the fact that the bible commands us to flee sexual sin should help us make a decision. Further knowing how our bodies are tuned and the fallen state of our hearts we should see this as a red flag and make a wisdom choice and flee from this specific choice that can eventually lead you to sin.
We must remember Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
2. Don’t be over spiritual: Many Christians go to work and have no unbelieving friends at work. They do not have conversations with anyone and tend to keep to themselves and completely isolate themselves from their colleges at work therefore coming across as snobbish and having no opportunities to share the Gospel. Such actions can come from a very pietistic view of Christianity, where you as a Christian choose not to mix with unbelievers at all. This can also come from pride of being a Christian who is better than unbelieving sinners. All the while forgetting that is where you once were and the only reason your counted righteous is not your righteousness but the righteousness of Christ. Such an approach can also come from too much self-focus where the Christian is a naval gazer and is so afraid of their own sins that they feel if they even talk to unbelievers and hangs out with them, they will fall quickly into sin. Christians are to be reminded to look to the righteousness of Christ and hold fast to his promises that He will hold you fast. and A Christian should be being aware of sin but also lean on the strength that Christ has bought for him.
We are to be reminded what the bible teaches, Be in the world and not of it. How can we be salt and light when we are not being in the world? Being in it is not the same as being of the world. It is not sinful for a Christian to hang out with his colleagues at work, unless they engage in something that leads them to sin. Being in the world is functioning in all the right ways how the world functions, Being of the world is what Christians are to avoid, that is to participate in the sinful pursuits of the world. A Christian has more Gospel opportunities when he in the world and knows people in the world so that he can share the Gospel while at the same time refraining from their sin.
3. Be Part of a healthy local church: There is no Christian who should be a lone ranger. A Christian should be part of a healthy local church where they are held accountable and where other godly Christians can watch over their souls. This is where they can fulfil the one another commands of confession their sin and growing to be more like Christ and being exhorted to live Holy lives.
If you’re a Christian who is alone in the world and have no Christian friends you will be easy prey to the devil. All this means you cannot choose a job that constantly makes you neglect the regular meeting together of the saints. You rather choose a job that pays you lower and gather with a local church then choose a job that pays you well but causes you to neglect the local church. Discipleship and friendships in the local church is of utmost important for Christian life more than that of money. While money feeds your body the church is God’s design for your spiritual growth. Starve not your bodies from spiritual growth. When having to choose between financial growth and spiritual growth choose the latter. The former is God’s gift for you in order to steward it for your Christian growth and for his kingdom.
Obey God and choose spiritual growth and trust His sovereign wisdom about your work.
This is where I would challenge older mature Christians who can be too inward focused to reach out to those weak or young sheep of God in your church and care for them. Don’t only just ask them on a Sunday morning how they are but disciple and invest and take out time to allow others to be a part of your life even through the week. I cannot but make a long list of young brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle alone without anyone to care for them even though their part of sound churches. God’s word says the lord places the lonely in families. How are then you reaching out to those who need help in your local church? Theology’s worth is really found when put into practice if not then your knowledge of theology is worthless.
4. Do you worship your work or God?
The demanding work cultures in big cities and the rat race to fame, riches, pleasure, and the expenses of a city life can make it hard for a Christian and also subtly blind us from Christian truth. We must be constantly reminded as Christians that our citizenship is not of this world, the wealth, resources and our jobs are gifts God gives you. These are given to you to steward it for His glory and the growth of His kingdom not for making a kingdom for you here on earth. We should be reminded that it is God who has given us our job and so trust him, that He will provide what we need when we need it. Often times you will have to make a choice between working long hours and balancing it with other responsibilities at home and church. A Christian should learn to say No when needed. There are some Christians who can never say No specially to their bosses at work and there are those who will say No to everything at work. We need to learn to draw the right balance and work diligently and yet not make work our idols. Men are called to work not for work. The Westminster and Baptist Catechism rightly ask What is the chief and highest end of man? Ans. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Work then for man is one of the medium through which he glorifies God. Man is not to glorify in his work or to glorify his work but glorify God through it. Sadly many Christians can easily forget to glorify God and live for their own glory or for the glory they find in their work. The common term used in the world is that, work is worship. That idea can sound partially right and Christians can all too quickly get onto this bandwagon, however we must understand that work which is part of our lives is a part of worship unto God. Work does not comprise all of worship. This saying means that there is no Worship better than doing your Work with optimal commitment and devotion. The main objective of life is found in this that “Work is Worship”. Without Work, life becomes boring and has no meaning. What it really means is you worship your work. Such devotion can be seen in how a Christians live their lives. Many Christians can find it hard to come to church on the Lord’s Day or be devoted to their local church. At the same time a Christian can have great devotion towards their work. They will travel far and endure the harshest bosses and be willing to be stretched at work beyond their measure but will complain of all the distance to travel to church and ways a church is not good enough and of many other difficulties and shortcomings in the church. They allow work to stretch them but cannot bear any burden of the local church. If you come across as this Christian then it is a good time to check your heart and the evidence that your alignment is towards the gift namely your work over the giver of your gift (God himself.) The main theme in Randy Alicorn’s Book, The Treasure Principle rightly instructs from God’s word to Christians to not rush and live for the passions of the world. The book reminds Christians that their citizenship is in another place a better place Christians should invest in heavenly riches by passing on our riches for it is in heaven where we have a guaranteed inheritance rather than investing in earthly pleasures which will pass away with this fleeting world. 5. Hope for the Failing: Christian if you have squandered your life in this world, if you have sinned living for the pleasures of this world, if you have gone by the broad way, Christ offers you a way out towards him. If you have made work your idol and lived for it, it is never late to repent and come to him for forgiveness. As Christians it is of great joy that we are accepted in God’s kingdom not because of our works or our righteous deeds but that of Christ. Christ offers forgiveness to all who have sinned. I write this as a sinner who has tasted the goodness of his mercy and grace. Further do find a healthy church and be part of a community where you can be accountable where the whole counsel of God is taught and where you can be loved. Christ through the word and through his church will help you grow in sanctification and in holiness to become more like his son Jesus. Work hard Christian for we are called for that duty and when you feel the weight of the painful toils as a result of sin while working, rest in the hope of the Gospel. Find rest that in eternity work will not be painful but a joy which can be enjoyed. Work hard not for riches on earth but for riches in eternity and enjoy in the joys of God’s grace that God allows you to enjoy while here on earth. None of what is written is new in time or original to the author.