We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
On Wednesday we examined the Reformation recovery of Our Faith—the biblical truth that our salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Today we will look at the Reformation recovery of Our Work and see why all legitimate work matters to God, because there is no such thing as a “sacred/secular split” in the world of work.
Work is not a curse, as many mistakenly believe. Work is a great gift from our working God to enjoy, and it is never to be categorized as either sacred work (those working in the church or the mission fields) or secular (the rest of humanity). As we see in today’s Scripture verse, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
Martin Luther, who is widely credited for inspiring the Protestant Reformation, put a sharp point on what was a very necessary correction to the church tradition of his day.
There is no true, basic difference between laymen and priests, princes and bishops, between religious and secular, except for the sake of office and work, but not for the sake of status. They are all of the spiritual estate, all are truly priests, bishops, and popes. But they do not all have the same work to do . . . A cobbler, a smith, a peasant—each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishop.
Further, everyone must benefit and serve every other by means of his own work or office so that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, just as all the members of the body serve one another.
Luther went on to describe all legitimate work as both the “fingers of God” and the “masks of God.” He said that God is working in and through the milkmaid who milks the cow and the farmer who plants his fields. Do you see what this means to our work today? All work matters to God, and our work is an act of worship when it is done for His glory and the good of others.
In Genesis we read that God was at work creating all things, including humanity, in His image. Because our God is a working God, and we were created in His image to work, our work matters to Him. Our work—regardless of whether we are digging a ditch or driving a truck, waiting on tables or writing software programs, teaching a class or delivering mail, installing a sprinkler system or practicing law, working in the financial industry or as a stay-at-home mom—our work has dignity, meaning, and purpose in the eyes of God.
Here is a quote from my latest book, which we are currently studying on Wednesday nights at Cross Community Church: I Owe, I Owe, It’s Off To Work I Go.
All work is God’s work and our work is a calling, because it is God who has called us in to it. This is the vision of work that was recaptured during the 16th-century Reformation. Because it is God who has given us the gift of work, and this work is an act of worship, we are never to see it as just a job.
Your work matters to God, and it is God who assigned you to your current station. To be sure, God can and does at times reassign us to new areas of work. He took me from the beach patrol to the fire rescue department to the field of health and wellness to teaching and now to the pastorate as a church planter. But he will never move us before we take the time to grow where we are planted. Only when we see our work as worship to God will we be encouraged and empowered to do all we can with all God has given us to do, right where He has currently assigned us to work.
In closing, Christian, you are not just “making a living.” You are making a difference by loving God and your neighbor through your work as worship to God. Everything you have is a gift from God including your current work. If you see your work in this light, you will have appropriated the truth laid out in my book, I Owe, I Owe, It’s Off to Work I Go. Perhaps you will even begin “whistling while you work.”
If you’d like to dig deeper into this Reformation truth of work as worship, you can find information about how to get your copy of the I Owe book on our church web site: www.thecrosscc.org
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!