Summary: Hard work has limited appeal if its only purpose is to accumulate riches or make us more comfortable. Work becomes meaningful when it is seen as service and as ministry.
Romans 12:1-8 “Why Should I Work So Hard?”
Things were going so good immediately following the creation. God had placed Adam and Eve in an idyllic situation—a garden that supplied everything that they needed. God took care of them, and the concept of work was as far beyond their reality as the computer chip. Then came sin—a rejection of God’s lordship in their lives and a desire to be god themselves. They were caught, embarrassed, cast out and judged. From that time on the earth would produce weeds and Adam’s descendents would have to work by the sweat of their brow.
From this moment on, the daily tasks of providing for oneself and one’s family has been viewed as a curse, rather than a blessing. Modern society has expanded the curse. Life has become an endless cycle of work and spending. We work so that we can spend money and accumulate things. We work longer and harder so that we can spend more and accumulate more. It is an endless cycle that has no purpose other than to perpetuate itself. In the end it becomes purposeless. We spend our lives in an endless pursuit of wealth for wealth’s sake.
PAUL – A LIVING SACRIFICE
In this passage of scripture, Paul puts a different spin on work. Work is not seen as drudgery. Neither is work viewed as something that we must do in order to impress God and obtain our own salvation. Work is viewed as a sacrifice of love.
This sacrifice of love is based on what God has done for us. While we were yet sinner, Christ died for us. God so loved the world that God gave his only son to die for us so that whoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life. At our baptism, God has made us his own, adopted us into God’s family, and filled us with the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we can respond by loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Work is a part of this equation.
Work is worship. Paul lifts up to us the idea that every aspect of our daily lives is our worship of God. Worship isn’t confined to one hour a week, rather it is expanded to six days a week. We rest, like God did, on the seventh day, and focus our attention on God’s goodness and blessings in our lives.
It is difficult to motivate ourselves to work hard, when work is viewed as a curse and drudgery. It is an entirely different story, when we understand our work to be a way that we worship God and honor God in our lives.
SERVICE BASED ON GIFTS
Paul understood that God’s creative hand was upon us from the moment of our conception. God moved in our lives and gifted us with our uniqueness, our gifts and talents, and our desires. Paul celebrates diversity. Each of us has different gifts. The one thing that unites us is God’s desire that we use our gifts to serve God and build up the fellowship of believers.
Paul talks about the Church being the body of Christ. Christ is our head; he gives us direction. We are all bound to each other in our worship and relationship with Christ. At the same time, each of us is a different part of the body. We play a different role in the scheme of things. No one has a more important role than anyone else. Our gifts and talents compliment one another instead of competing against each other.
Improving ourselves so that we can beat the other guy in the game of life is not the goal of the Christian. A Christian has a different set of aspirations. Our goal is to develop our gifts and talents and improve them so that we can serve God better and allow God to be glorified to a greater degree in our lives.
CALLED BY GOD
Not only does God gift people with different talents and abilities, but also God calls people to different paths of service. Historically, we have called these vocations.
Many people believe that pastors receive a special “call” into the ministry. It is assumed that somehow God speaks to them and tells them that God is enlisting them in God’s pastoral army. In a way this is true, but it is not limited to the clergy. God calls everyone to his or her specific task in life.
God gives us our talents and abilities. God also gives us our desires. Through these, God leads us and guides us into a vocation where we can serve God. This is why it is important for us to ask, “What does God want me to do with my life?” rather than limiting our questions to, “How can I make the most money?” “What will give me the most leisure time?” “How can I obtain the most power and prestige?”