Good Work

Do you believe your work matters to God? That question has been on my mind as I prepare a sermon for September 20th. It seems like people in the church are often celebrated for what they do within the church or through the church or for the church, but we offer little attention or affirmation for the labor done outside the institutional structures of the church. The message we subtly communicate is that the 2 or 4 percent of a person’s time spent engaged in activities related to the church are what matter to God–they “count”–but the 95+ percent of the time they spend at work, with family, preparing meals, changing diapers, or mowing the lawn don’t really matter to God unless they incorporate church/missionary actions into those times. (For example, a teacher might be celebrated for sharing her faith with a student, but we don’t see value in the teacher’s work of teaching biology.) Is this really what the Bible affirms? Here’s a few quotes, one from Martin Luther, that unpack are more accurate understanding of work and vocation:

“Therefore I advise no one to enter any religious order or the priesthood, indeed, I advise everyone against it – unless he is forearmed with this knowledge and understands that the works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone.” – Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520)

Another authors expands on Luther’s words:

“When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, observed Luther, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. And He does give us our daily bread. He does it by means of the farmer who planted and harvested the grain, the baker who made the flour into bread, the person who prepared our meal. We might today add the truck drivers who hauled the produce, the factory workers in the food processing plant, the warehouse men, the wholesale distributors, the stock boys, the lady at the checkout counter. Also playing their part are the bankers, futures investors, advertisers, lawyers, agricultural scientists, mechanical engineers, and every other player in the nation’s economic system. All of these were instrumental in enabling you to eat your morning bread. “Before you ate, you probably gave thanks to God for your food, as is fitting. He is caring for your physical needs, as with every other kind of need you have, preserving your life through His gifts. “He provides food for those who fear him” (Psalm 111:5); also to those who do not fear Him, “to all flesh” (136:25). And He does so by using other human beings. It is still God who is responsible for giving us our daily bread. Though He could give it to us directly, by a miraculous provision, as He once did for the children of Israel when He fed them daily with manna, God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other. This is the doctrine of vocation.”

– From God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by

Gene Edward Veith vocation

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