IT’S HOW WE WORK THAT MATTERS
By Randy Kilgore on November 8, 2018
One of the great temptations of comfortable living is our belief we're comfortable because of our own labors. This leads to another great temptation, the belief that those who aren't comfortable are always to blame for their own circumstances.
We're too coy to say it out loud, but we think the poor are poor because they didn't try hard enough, that the homeless are homeless because they want to be, or because they're lazy or because they're all on drugs. We think the sick are sick because they didn't take care of their bodies, and the debt-ridden are debt-ridden because they didn't manage their money well. We think the unemployed are unemployed because they didn't work hard enough, didn't train themselves well enough or aren't looking hard enough for work. We think those things with smug self-congratulations for avoiding those traps ourselves.
...until the roof caves in.
It is often only then we discover struggle and trials are not always the result of sin or negligence or laziness or lack of effort or initiative.
When Jesus completes our performance evaluation in heaven, He's going to ask us unexpected questions, surprising us the way He surprises the faithful (and also the unfaithful) in Matthew 25.
He'll likely ask questions like these:
--Did you help the unemployed find work?
--Did you pay a living wage to your workers?
--Did you make any personal sacrifice before laying off workers in your firm?
--Did you serve the people that worked for you, or did they serve you and your career?
--Did you spend resources your Father gave you on yourself and your comfort, or were they tools you used to comfort those your Father placed in your care?
--Did you pay attention to the way your workers treated those who failed or faltered?
--How did you collect the money that was owed you?
--What training did you give the people who supervised your workers?
--Did the products you produced honor God, and did you produce them in ways that honored Him?
Many false teachers will tell you faithful Christians will always get material blessing. Many self-absorbed leaders will tell you righteous living leads to career success, God makes no such promises.
He promises instead to give us the one thing that matters: A relationship with Him, fueled by His instructions to love Him above all else and seek Him before any earthly objective. He owes us absolutely nothing else.
And then He gives us an assignment for the rest of our time on Earth:..."love your neighbor as yourself."
How we do that matters more than we know, as the surprised men and women of Matthew 25 discovered.
"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' ---Jesus, in Matthew 25:35-40
faith at work resources
By Randy Kilgore on October 2, 2018
For much of the past twenty years, our ministry has been about teaching working Christians God cares about the work they do and the way they do it. On top of that, we’ve also spent a significant amount of energy trying to encourage pastors to do the same thing. Since many of us spend most of our waking hours working, not having God be an integral part of that activity risks our losing touch with Him on a daily basis.
Even though God is now expanding our focus beyond just the workplace, it remains an important part of who we are and what you as readers need. So I want to use the first piece in this section to connect you to other parts of the work/faith movement where you can continue to find wisdom and strength for your working lives.
The first place to go these days is the Theology of Work Project found at www.theologyofwork.org . Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, I began a devotional as a way to keep in touch with the Boston-area workers who were shaken by the loss of so many of their co-workers. Almost immediately, our inbox was flooded with questions people have been asking for years. Since many of the questions were incident-specific and had to be researched, it was impossible for us to keep up with the emails, so I began to look for what I call an “answer manual.” This is something the Billy Graham crusades developed for their phone bank workers around salvation, and it enabled them to answer serious questions while keeping the caller focused on their own decision to meet Christ. In this case, I was looking for a manual that answered the most common questions so we could use template responses; giving us more time to focus on crisis-response emails, and more time to research more complex questions.
So I began to badger my peers into creating one. Others have had similar thoughts, but there had never been an opportunity to gather a critical mass of “true believers” willing to invest the hard work necessary to accomplish the task. Then the late spiritual (gentle) giant Dr. Haddon Robinson agreed to lead the Project, and soon we were flooded with recommendations for accomplished work/faith people to fill the slots. I was amazed and humbled to watch God assemble the team needed to create what would become a commentary on every book of the Bible and what they say/teach about work and vocation from God’s perspective. Literally some of the best minds from around the globe stepped up, and in 2014, the commentaries were completed and made available FREE OF CHARGE online. Now not only do those ministering to workers have a resource to more quickly and competently find Biblical answers to questions like “How do I deal with a difficult boss?” or “How do I work in a country/company/industry where bribery is routine practice?”, but workers themselves can go directly to Scripture and these commentaries, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to them as they do so.
Next, our ministry created a series of Bible studies entitled “Thirty Moments Christians Face in the Workplace”. The Bible studies were designed not only to answer modern work questions (while showing the relevance of Scripture in all eras and areas), but also to weave in elements of systematic theology like “how do we hear God” and “how does God ‘speak’ to us”. These studies are available at our sister site, www.madetomatter.org.
I suggest you start with the theologyofwork.org commentaries, as well as our resources over at Madetomatter.org. Then in our next post, we’ll give you a reading list of some of the finest writings on work/faith issues.