Summary: 20th in a series from Epehsians. Paul helps us understand our life work.
Let me ask you a question this morning: What would you say is your life work? While you’re thinking about the answer to that question, let me share with you how several people answered that question:
Bruce Wagman, a San Francisco attorney:
I think the animals in society deserve a level of protection that they’re clearly not getting yet. That’s why I’ve made it my life’s work. I don’t think they should be allowed to freely run down the street and vote and drive cars. But they should be free from abuse.
If money weren’t an issue…if all jobs paid the same…if I could choose to "work" at anything I wanted…what would my "life’s work" be? I think I would want to be a drummer in a Rock group that played only in ONE small bar, so we never had to “tote” equipment, working as many nights a week as I wanted, playing as many hours a night as I wanted, playing with incredibly talented musicians … who were friends first, playing any kind of music we wanted, as loud and as long as we wanted, working for bar managers who loved our music, playing in a band with incredible vocal harmonies, where anyone of the vocalists could sing lead, where the crowd were all my closest friends who would dance, scream, yell, and always be extremely high, but never drunk…
Someone identified only as Harry:
In May of 1998, traveling through the Nevada desert, I discovered my life’s work, namely to enjoy a fine meal at a Taco Bell in each of the 50 US states. Unfortunately, my progress towards this goal has been higher in recent years than I had anticipated, with completion of my life’s work occurring [sic] in Anchorage on September 10, 2005. By most accounts, I still have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 or so years of life expectancy to fill up somehow. I’m open to suggestions...
Perhaps Harry could find the answer to his quest in the words of Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus. We’re going to continue our journey through our basic training manual this morning beginning in chapter 3, verse. For some reasons that will become a little more obvious as we continue, I’m going to read that passage from the ESV translation:
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
Ephesians 3:7-9 (ESV)
The ESV translation of this particular passage is a little better literal translation of these verses, and that is going to be important as we look at the passage in more detail in just a moment. But before we do that, I’d like for all of us to read this same passage from the Message. Although Eugene Peterson takes some liberty with his paraphrase of the passage, I think he, as he often does, really captures the essence of what Paul is writing here:
This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along.
Ephesians 3:7-9 (Message)
This morning we’re going to deal with this whole concept of my life work. Paul obviously had a pretty good grasp on what his life’s work was. We clearly see that in this passage from Ephesians, but before we dig into this section of Scripture this morning, I’d like us to read from another of Paul’s letters. One of the most important principles of Bible study is that the Bible is the best commentary on the Bible. And this is certainly one of those times where another passage gives us some good insight into what Paul is writing here in Ephesians. As Paul wrote to a young pastor named Timothy, he described his life work in some detail: