Summary: We are called to a labor of love in all we do, as we serve Christ in our work.
Labor of Love
September 1, 2013
How do you feel about your job? Studs Terkel, the famous Chicago author, interviewed hundreds of people about their jobs and recorded what they said in his 1974 book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. He wrote this in the introduction:
This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence — to the spirit as well as to the body. It is about ulcers as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around. It is, above all (or beneath all), about daily humiliations. To survive the day is triumph enough for the walking wounded among the great many of us ….
It is about a search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition, as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. Perhaps immortality, too, is part of the quest. To be remembered was the wish, spoken and unspoken, of the heroes and heroines of this book.
That’s quite an opening to a book about work. It’s really a fascinating, rough, no holds barred book; which also contains stories of success and achievement, along with descriptions of the hardship of work.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God said to Adam, (Genesis 3:17-18) ~
17 Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. Once humanity, Adam and Eve sinned, God made work — even good work — hard. I believe God did this so we would be drawn to become more reliant on Him, than upon ourselves.
Yet, in the midst of this hardship, the good news is that Jesus Christ can give us the victory over the curse. Christ can make our work good again. Today we’re going to look at a text which is about work, and when we read it, we think about slavery, and sometimes that may be how we feel about work, and I want to add that in whatever we are doing in life, whether volunteering, working or in school, the theme remains the same and the One who gives us the victory is also the same! Let’s look at Ephesians 6, as the apostle Paul wrote ~
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,
8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him.
Ephesians 6:5-9 was written to slaves and masters. Yet, there are some things that just don't change, and this passage speaks to that which is always true. Most people work, and even the best jobs can be draining and thorny. And sometimes we have those wonderfully difficult relationships at work.
When you read Ephesians 6:5-9, we realize how central Christ is in this passage. I read this quote ~ "Most people don't think work could possibly have anything to do with spirituality. They assume that these two worlds cannot mesh. But if we bring our souls to work then we can transform our work."
That’s a great statement for us to hold onto. And let me tell you, this just doesn’t apply to those of us who work and bring home a paycheck. Whatever we are doing, we are ultimately serving Christ. Our souls demonstrate who Christ is in our lives.
In some ways the problems we experience at work are directly tied to our spirits. Why? Because we can’t help but to bring our heart and soul to work. That’s why work can be so painful at times.
Work does something to our souls. What our passage in Ephesians tells us is that we can bring our souls to Jesus at work, and He will transform our jobs. We can partner with Jesus to overcome the work curse.
Verse 5 tells us ~ Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. The first way you subvert the work curse is by giving your boss what I would call the Jesus treatment.