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Work or Worship?

March 12, 2011
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I would like to describe to you a day in the life of a typical person with a typical life and an unfortunately very common ailment:

  • You wake up in the morning after maybe 5 or 6 hours of sleep, if your are fortunate, and go about your normal morning routine already thinking up what needs to be done today.
  • You collect your smart phone to check email and make sure you didn’t miss anything important during your slumber.
  • Over breakfast or coffee you are at your computer responding to email and making out your daily task lists.
  • On the drive to work you either listen to voice mail or make a few phone calls that cannot possibly wait until you are in the office.
  • At the office you hit the ground running going to meetings, completing your tasks and making sure that everything gets done.
  • Over lunch you are at the computer running through email and checking off items on your task list. That is if you bother with lunch at all.
  • The rest of the day is much the same. You get a few more assignments and spend all the afternoon and partially into the evening carrying them out.
  • You leave the office sometime between six and eight o’clock. The trip home is filled with plans for the next day and what you need to accomplish in the evening.
  • At home you might have dinner with your family if you make it on time but if not you eat alone while going through email. By the end of the day you might get an hour to relax before going to bed.
  • The next day the cycle repeats itself again.

What I have just described is a relatively typical day in the life of the American businessman. And, while I admit that some of this is slightly overstated for effect, it is an accurate picture of what I have experienced and observed in others during my career. You may ask what is wrong with this? Is there anything wrong with being dedicated to your career and your employer? The answer to that is yes, and no. Allow me to explain…

The picture we have here may look like simple commitment and dedication but look closer. There is an underlying theme here that is a very serious issue. Where is God in this equation? I will argue that what we have here goes beyond simple dedication and enters the realm of worship. In this case the worship of a career or work. Such an attitude is thoroughly inconsistent with a Christian life and testimony.

One of the worst sins we commit, likely THE worst, is to place something ahead of God in our worship. Paul explains it in Romans like this:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:24-25 ESV)

Any time we place something ahead of God in our priorities Scripture calls that worship. Only God is worthy of worship and therefore assigning the glory due Him to any other thing is the greatest sin we commit. This is true if we are worshipping our job, our family, or money. God demands to be first and He is worthy of it. If you are not a Christian then the lifestyle I have described may look quite appealing and typical. (Success can also be worshipped.) To you I say turn from your sin and embrace Christ as Lord and Savior. Your career cannot save you from the debt of sin you owe God. Only Christ can.

For the Christians reading this I say to you that this lifestyle is unworthy of the new life we have in Him. He has called you out of sin and that includes the worshipping of creation. Unfortunately, as long as we are in this life, we still have that old man of our sin nature, which tempts us to turn from our creator and into other things. We need to stare that old man in the face and make sure he blinks before we do. God has given us His Spirit to combat the old man and He is faithful to see us through the temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13.)

What should our attitude be with our job? Does not Scripture tell us to honor our earthly masters as serving the Lord? (Ephesians 6:5-8) Indeed Scripture does teach us to serve our employers but notice in what context this is placed:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, (Ephesians 6:5 ESV, emphasis added)

Our service to our employers is part of our service to Christ as is our service to our family but He must come first. In the latter half of Ephesians we see a description of Godly living which includes honoring God, the church, wives and husbands, children, and slaves and masters. Time and space do not permit a thorough analysis of the book but a simple read through explains the priorities in a Christian life as follows:

  1. God
  2. Family (includes family by blood and church family)
  3. Work

I place work in third place because Scripture places it in third place. This does not mean is deserves less attention or that it should be ignored. It only means that is should not supplant the other priorities. It is easy to ride the pendulum from worshipping work to ignoring it completely but Scripture does not call us to do this. It simply needs to take its place. Where, I ask, in the lifestyle I describe is there room for God and family? Sadly, I see this every day.

Why do I belabor the point? Why bother with this when there are plenty of other things that I could write about? My reasons are simple. First because I do not see this addressed much. People go about their days much like I describe and pay lip service to God on Sunday then dive back into the pattern Monday morning. It saddens me when my brothers and sisters in Christ live like this and think that they are simply being faithful employees. Second, I subscribe to the philosophy of “Physician, heal thyself.” I am not arrogant enough to think that I am immune to the lifestyle I have described. I have looked into that old man’s face and blinked. Thankfully, he has blinked more times than I have and God has continued to grant me victory over this. One thing you learn from staring into the abyss of temptation is how easy it can be to fall over the edge. May this be an encouragement to by brothers and sisters to keep fighting and arrange your priorities as God has arranged them.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Vertu Kiossi permalink
    March 26, 2012 11:45 pm

    Waoo! What a fantastic article!

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