February 9, 2018 • Life for Leaders
With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Do you ever wonder if your work really matters? Are there times when it seems as if your work is pretty meaningless? Do you worry that your work really doesn’t make a difference from God’s perspective?
In yesterday’s devotion, I explained how I once believed that the only truly valuable human activity was evangelism. Getting people to accept Jesus and go to heaven was the only work that God truly valued. Other work mattered if it was somehow related to getting people to be saved. If your work helped people know about Jesus, or if the proceeds from your work could be given to evangelistic and missionary causes, then your work mattered, but only secondarily. Work that dealt primarily with the things of this world had no essential or intrinsic value.
I have since come to realize how narrow and mistaken I was in my view of work. Many passages of Scripture have taught me to value all sorts of human work. Consider Genesis 1 and 2, for example. There, we were created in the image of God the worker to be fruitful workers, workers who care for the earth and enable it to be fruitful.
Ephesians 1:8-10 is one of those passages that have transformed my understanding of work. This passage reveals that God’s big plan is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). There it is, plainly spoken. God’s plan is not just for souls and heaven. It has to do with all things, including things on earth.
If God cares so much about the things of earth that his grand plan for the future includes them, then surely God cares about earthly things now. God still wants us to be faithful workers, workers who tend the earth and help it to be productive. So called “secular work” matters to God and contributes to God’s work in the world. It is part of the “all things” that matters so much to God.
Now, this doesn’t mean that all human work is necessarily good. Some work can, in fact, be evil. It’s wrong to engage in slave trading, robbery, or drug smuggling. Most human work is mixed with both good and bad, given the fallenness of our world and our own sinfulness. Yet, the line between good work and bad work isn’t drawn along a sacred/secular axis.
God’s plan for the future reflects God’s concerns in the present. God’s care for all things, including earthly things, implies that God cares about your daily work. You can choose to do your work today as an offering to God and an expression of his call on your life. You can learn to see your work as having value far beyond what you might have assumed before. You can honor God, not just when you’re doing “heavenly things,” but also when you’re doing the “earthly things” that occupy the majority of your waking hours.
Something to Think About:
Do you think your work matters to God? If so, why? If not, why not?
What is the heavenly value of earthly work?
In what ways do you honor God through your work?
Something to Do:
Today, as you do your work, remind yourself that God cares about “all things,” including the things on your to-do list.
Gracious God, thank you for revealing the mystery of your will to us. Thank you for letting us know that, one day, you will unify all things in Christ. Thank you for reminding us that you care, not just about heavenly things, but also about earthly things.
Help us, Lord, to see our work as you see it. Help us to do our work in a way that pleases you. Through our work, may we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to you. As we work, may we join you in your work in the world. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
People are Created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:26, 27; 5:1)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.