Ecclesiastes 2:17-26 The Message (MSG)
17 I hate life. As far as I can see, what happens on earth is a bad business. It’s smoke—and spitting into the wind.
18-19 And I hated everything I’d accomplished and accumulated on this earth. I can’t take it with me—no, I have to leave it to whoever comes after me. Whether they’re worthy or worthless—and who’s to tell?—they’ll take over the earthly results of my intense thinking and hard work. Smoke.
20-23 That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. What’s the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that’s what it is. A bad business from start to finish. So what do you get from a life of hard labor? Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night’s rest. Nothing but smoke.
24-26 The best you can do with your life is have a good time and get by the best you can. The way I see it, that’s it—divine fate. Whether we feast or fast, it’s up to God. God may give wisdom and knowledge and joy to his favorites, but sinners are assigned a life of hard labor, and end up turning their wages over to God’s favorites. Nothing but smoke—and spitting into the wind.
Matthew 6:20-21 The Message (MSG)
A Life of God-Worship
19-21 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
Colossians 3:23-25 The Message (MSG)
22-25 Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.
Work. It’s what responsible adults do. We go to work because we must make a living so we can put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. This is what I tell myself, but really? When I introduce myself is my occupation the first thing I say? Am I my work? Without that label, “teacher,” what is left to describe me? If I desire it, is it possible to worship God through what I do?
And what about the time element? Do I really need to work as much as I do? Who am I working for? Who is losing out because I’m working for 16 of the 24 hours in the day? My husband? My family? Here’s a gut wrenching thought: Is my relationship with God suffering because I’m making an idol of my work? God made all things good, but if we put anything ahead of Him that’s definitely not good. If I truly desire to place everything I am under the hand of God, what would my day, week or month look like?
I am only too aware of this truth: Often people work their entire lives to accumulate things, positions and accolades that they can’t take with them. Am I one of these people?
And I hated everything I’d accomplished and accumulated on this earth. I can’t take it with me—no, I have to leave it to whoever comes after me. Whether they’re worthy or worthless—and who’s to tell?—they’ll take over the earthly results of my intense thinking and hard work. Smoke.
After reading Solomon’s words I have to stop and take a few deep breaths.
What would happen if tomorrow I woke up, got dressed, and went to work for God instead of for myself? What significant changes would I need to make if I were to worship God in my work so I’m building treasure in heaven instead of resting on the foundation of my personal accolades and accomplishments? What specifically would I need to change as I turn the focus away from myself and to the light of the world? What if…
- …I keep this verse in mind…Matthew 23:37-40—”Jesus said, Love God and love others more than you love yourself.” So how does that look at work? What if I became more focused on people and less focused on tasks? What if I made an effort to build relationships and love others at work? I may never have the opportunity to do mission work in Africa or India, but I know my workplace is often a jungle and I’ll bet yours is too. There’s A LOT of work to be done there.
- …My work ethic is guided by Christ…How do I complete my work? What if I strive to demonstrate a Colossians 3:23 attitude? I’ve been teaching a lot of years and believe me, I most definitely know how to make it look good without really putting my heart into it. I did it just last Thursday. According to scripture, when I “phone it in” I am not worshiping God at work.
- …I “dial down” my attitude under pressure…James 1:2-3…”Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” My attitude in the worst of situations is what may (or may not) elicit the question, “How can you stay so calm when…?”. There’s your opening.
- …I work on my witness at work…What if I were to consistently demonstrate a joyful and humble heart? What if I acknowledge I don’t have all the answers, if I were to apologize quickly, offer grace when someone makes a mistake and finally, offer to pray? Even those far away from God accept heartfelt offers to pray for their needs. These are God honoring practices for my workplace that may allow the Holy Spirit to break down walls with co-workers. (James 4:6, Matthew 18:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, Ephesians 4:32)
I know this is a boatload of questions, but here’s one more I’ve been thinking about…“Can I serve God better by not working?” My husband and I are talking about retirement a lot lately. If I were to retire a couple of years early, I would really have the time and energy to develop the women’s ministry at our growing campus. It is my joy, but by teaching full-time I simply don’t have the time to do everything I’d like to be doing in that ministry. I’m seriously praying about this. What about you? If you were to cut back on your work hours, how would God use that margin? Maybe He simply wants you to dig deeper into His Word. Perhaps there’s someone on your heart…an elderly relative, a sweet mother who is overwhelmed and needs your support, or a neighbor that you know is lonely and would treasure your friendship. What’s more, did you know that Real Life has a whole group of capable, talented individuals who are unpaid employees? Do you have a skill that could be used in this capacity?
I know this world has wholly brainwashed me into thinking that a good day’s work can never be bad, but I am feeling a not so gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit asking me to make a big time attitude adjustment on this topic. How about you? I’m praying that you will stop working long enough to sit and reflect on some positive changes that you can make soon. Here is the challenge for me, and perhaps for you too: Do I trust God to provide what I need to live when I’m serving in obedience to Him even when I’m personally earning less? Hmmm…
Heavenly Father, if I’ve turned good work into bad work because I’ve put it ahead of my relationship with you, then please forgive me. If I’ve placed task completion before people, then show me the error of my ways. I pray that you would open my heart to understand how I can worship you in my workplace. Like everything else in this world, it’s not about me…it’s about Jesus. You gave up your beloved Son to die in my place. I can never work hard enough to make up for that sacrifice, so why am I pretending I can? Your grace is sufficient for me. I don’t need more stuff in this life. You are my all-in-all. Teach me how to live out that truth no matter where you send me to minister. I want to be salt and light to this broken world. Show me how. In Jesus Name, Amen.
It doesn’t matter if you subscribe to RightNow Media or not, because this link will work for you: Work as Worship from RightNow Ministries. It’s a quick two-minute video that is well worth the two minutes. Next, worship The Creator with this beautiful Audrey Assad song: Wood and Nails.
Today’s post was written by Cindy Koopmans.
Cindy is married to her college sweetheart, Brian, for 38 years. She has three grown boys, two sweet daughters-in-law and a gorgeous little grand-man named Oliver Brian. Cindy teaches fifth grade at Sorrento Elementary and serves at the Mount Dora campus as their Worship Coordinator. Cindy’s passion is music, so her happy place is at the keyboard. She also enjoys reading (so many books, so little time), thrifting, and hanging out with Kramer the wonder Bichon. You can find her on Sunday mornings worshiping at our Real Life Mount Dora campus.