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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Align Yourself with Jesus at Work – Part 2

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

– Colossians 3:23-24

 Let’s dig right in to the nitty-gritty of how work can become a victorious venture in faith rather than a vicious dog eat dog cage match.

Third, we align ourselves with Jesus at work by heartily working for the Lord (3:23-25). Paul writes, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Here is the key to overcoming any bad work situation. You may be in the most unfair working environment possible or you may be in the worst job possible. You may be in the most boring most dead end job imaginable. But there is a way for any job, even the one you hate, to become meaningful, purposeful, valuable and victorious. The key is knowing Who you work for. If you see yourself merely working for people, you will always struggle. But if, as Paul instructs here, you work “heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” your job becomes a mission rather than a morass.

When you work first for the Lord, your job becomes a behind the lines mission from God in this unsaved world. We aren’t Navy Seals, but we can be Nazarene Seals on a mission to save the lost from the clutches of a ruthless enemy. Our mission is to be used by God “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). That’s important!

It’s important we serve the Lord wherever He puts us. That doesn’t mean we don’t seek advancement or different jobs, but we do so at the leading of the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2). We present ourselves to God to serve Him wherever He puts us. God has you where you are for a reason. You may be the only one who can reach your coworker or employer. Not everyone can be a pastor. And not everyone can be an accountant, banker, cashier, doctor, fireman, homemaker, lawyer, mechanic, nurse, office worker, park ranger, policeman, politician, professional athlete, sales person, sanitation worker, teacher, and a host of other job positions. If you understand you work for the Lord, your job comes alive.  

Now understand, as we said before, this doesn’t mean we take (or steal) time from our employer to “witness” to clients, coworkers, or anyone else. You need to put in an honest day’s work. If during your breaks or in a way that does not impede your work, or if approved by your employer, you are able to share your faith, then go for it! But we need to work “heartily” from the heart, doing our best for the Lord and for those we are employed by.

Sometimes we feel like no one appreciates our hard work. God does. “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love . . . .” (Heb. 6:10). Don’t cheat who you work for, cheat yourself, or cheat God with a halfhearted effort in whatever work you do. Instead, work with all your heart, always. It’s always worth it.

Actually, since you are working for the Lord, you should be the best worker! And that is because you know, “knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” We have eternal life as our inheritance (Eph. 1:11, 14, 18; Col. 1:12). But we will also reap according to how we live our lives as Christians. Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:9). At the Judgment Seat of Christ we will not be judged as to whether or not we have eternal life. The Christian is secure in that certainty by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. But Jesus will judge us based on how we lived as Christians. Our works will be tested with fire. That which was temporal will be burned up and we will suffer loss. We will be rewarded for the things we did of eternal worth (1 Cor. 3:12-15). This reality may be challenging, even unsettling for some. But it is true. This one life will soon be past, only what was done for Christ will last. That is the truth. In this regard we will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-9).

Paul warns, “But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” God is just. And as we have seen, God is watching. He will repay us for what we have done; for how we have worked. The word “wrong” means unjust, hurtful, causing injury, or in a way that offends.  The worker who is slothful, deceiving, dishonest, insincere, half-hearted, who only care about themselves, God will repay accordingly.

Therefore, we should work with eternity in our hearts. We should labor for that which lasts. And when we work in secular temporal settings and do so with an eternal mindset working with all our heart for the Lord, our mundane jobs become factories producing eternal dividends. When you work your job for the Lord, you sanctify it and it becomes of eternal worth. If you wash floors, cook meals, clean homes, argue in court, serve in a hospital or on the battle fields of the world, if you do so prayerfully, with all your heart, serving the Lord, God takes that into account. God will take your work that is offered to Him and sanctified for His purposes and will translate dividends into your heavenly account. Working with all your heart for the Lord, no matter the setting, brings purpose, meaning, worth, eternal worth to your job.

Fourth, if we align ourselves with Jesus at work we will be just and fair employers (4:1). Paul writes, “Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Employees are warned to not do “wrong” (adikeo). Employers are instructed to be “just” (dikeo) or ,right,  ethically correct,  righteous and just. The idea is to judge fairly and justly. They are instructed to be “fair” equitable or impartial. Masters or employers are to oversee and treat their workers fairly. Being a just and fair employer would include looking out for the safety and health of employees. It would mean rendering a fair wage. It would mean operating impartially as opposed to prejudicially for whatever reason. Employees are to work heartily “as to the Lord,” but so should employers. Paul reminds employers, “you also have a Master in heaven.” You may be in charge on earth, but you still have a Master in heaven. We must all  appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, including employers. Employers should use Jesus as their Guide and Model just as much as employees. Look at the Father’s provision and protection for those in His service. Look at how Jesus cared for His disciples. Employers, care for your employees. Look for ways to bless them. Look for ways to reward those who work for you. Encourage them; make them feel a part of the work at hand. Be a good godly employer.

Let’s do whatever we do in the name of the Lord. Whatever you do is a “work of faith,” and a “labor of love” (1 Thess. 1:3). Work for the Lord in the power the Lord provides (Col. 1:28-29). If our labor is done for the Lord it is never in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). We will be rewarded in heaven for labor done on earth to the glory of God (1 Cor. 3:8). Victory on the job and in life comes from understanding we labor shoulder to shoulder with Jesus (1 Cor. 3:9). Serve and labor to please Him (2 Cor. 5:9). Don’t give up or lose heart but press on in your work (Gal. 6:9).God will not forget what we have done or how we have done it (Heb. 6:10). Jesus knows our works (Rev. 2:2). But for now, the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, pray God send more fellow laborers to labor so that we can reap a harvest of souls saved and disciples made (Luke 10:2). All to His glory! Pray! And let’s get to work!

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