31. Our Attitude toward Work
“Obey them (masters) not only to win
their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will
of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord,
not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good
he does, whether he is slave or free” (Eph. 6:6-8).
A “water-tight compartment” division
of our life into work — when we just work — and leisure, when we can
serve the Truth, is a bad thing. The Truth is not a matter of books and speeches
and formal meetings; it concerns our living every hour of every day. For that
matter, our best opportunities for preaching the Truth are usually with our
fellow workers; it would be very sad if we could only preach to
Our daily labor takes up quite a large percentage
of our time. We should never shirk our duties, even so as to (supposedly) give
more time to the “work of the Truth”. Nor should we be
“clock-watchers”, only interested in finishing our work as quickly
and easily as possible.
The only satisfactory approach to our daily work
is to consecrate it to God. Labor was not, in fact, a consequence of the curse;
instead, it was a part of God’s blessings for Adam in the perfect world
first created (Gen. 2:2,8,15). Most of our Master’s life was spent as a
carpenter; later he taught lessons from the tasks of builder, farmer, fisherman,
and shepherd for the help of those whose discipleship was mostly to be worked
out in such daily toil.
A consecrated attitude toward our work cannot, of
course, solve all our problems. The tension never ceases. In practice each must
still make new decisions daily about the actual sharing of his time between
secular and specifically religious work. But many detailed problems of conduct
are solved by the proper attitude.
Such an approach concentrates attention on the
job for its own sake, not chiefly as a means to so many dollars and cents, nor
even as a matter of duty merely to an employer. He happens to be there, or
sometimes not, but our real Master is in heaven, so “eye-service” is
ruled out (Eph. 6:6). Certain jobs may not be what we would freely choose, but
we can certainly choose the spirit in which we perform them. Such a spirit is in
fact a reliable guide to the fitness of any job for a disciple: i.e., Could it
be done “as to the Lord”?
Our deliverance from the world still leaves most
of us workers in it. Sincerity, conscientiousness, reliability, honesty, and
helpfulness will demonstrate our separateness from our fellows in matters of
philosophy, and will perhaps earn their respect and attention. Our Master has
not set us free from work; but he has set us free from bitterness, false hopes,
and wrong and hurtful attitudes.