–Identity Through Work–
Some people would insist that our chief purpose in life is to work. No other place in the world, since the days of Adam to this present time, has given more honor to work that on the North American Continent. Not that we like to work, we just like to talk about what an honorable thing it is.
Have you ever stopped to consider what work is?
Let me put work in its simplest form. Work is moving things and rearranging them. We have something over here and we work to put it over there. Something is in the pail and we put it on the side of the house, which we call painting. Something is in the cupboard, we work to put that into a skillet and then on the table to put it into your husband, and that is called cooking.
Smile at this simplification, but you will find this definition of work a very good and sound one. Work is taking something that is somewhere, putting it somewhere else and rearranging it. To the observer of humanity, the obvious thing about work is the fact that it has a short range focus; it never has long range purpose.
The farmer has some corn in his barn, puts it in the field and covers it up. After nature has worked on it for three or four months, he take it from there and puts it back where he got it, only there is more of it. The next year the corn is gone; the cattle ate the corn. Therefore, work always has a short range purpose.
But what is the result of all this? Why do all this? Why put that green, red, or white paint in that pail and put it on your house? You say, in order that the house might not be affected by the weather, that it might stay nice and look nice.
That is very good, but there never was a house built yet that will not rot and get rundown and finally be replaced with something newer. Nobody can convince me that I am merely made to work like a farm horse without having any future or any reason except that work. A man can work all his life, be identified by that work and then retire. Shortly after retirement, he dies because he has lost his purpose in life. The end result of work is utter futility.
You are a mirror of the Almighty, and this is the reason you were created in the first place. This is your purpose. You are not created so that you might only take something over here and put it over there — work. You were not created only that you might develop your brain so that you can speak with a cultured accent — education. Neither are we here to enjoy ourselves, even the pure pleasures of life. Nor are we here for the thrills life brings. This is what you are here for, to glorify God and enjoy Him thoroughly and forever, telling the universe how great God is.
–What came first, the worker or the worshiper?–
The supreme reason the Lord was born of the Virgin Mary to suffer under Pontius Pilate to be crucified, die and be buried; the reason He overcame death and rose again from the grave is that He might make worshipers out of rebels. We are recipients of a grace meant to save us from self-centeredness and make worshipers out of us.
Thomas Boston said the difference between man and beast is that a beast looks down and a man is made to look up. A man can engage the God above while the beast goes about and only sees the ground underneath its short legs. But man can see into the heavens above. A beast bows under his burden, but a man lifts his heart in praise to his Burden bearer, Jesus Christ.
God is infinitely more concerned that He has worshipers than that He has workers. Unfortunately, most evangelicals do not share in the concern. For the most part, evangelicals have been reduced to the position where God is a supervisor desperately seeking help. Standing at the wayside, He tries to find how many helpers will come to His rescue and bail Him out of a tight spot. We mistakenly believe that God needs workers, and so we cheerfully say, “I’ll go to work for the Lord.” If we could only remember that as far as His plans are concerned, God does not need us.
I think we should work for the Lord, but it is a matter of grace on God’s part. However, I do not think we should ever work until we learn to worship. A worshiper can work with eternal quality in his work but a worker who does not worship is only piling up wood, hay and stubble for the time when God sets the world on fire. God wants worshipers before He wants workers. He calls us back to that for which we were created– to worship the Lord God and to enjoy Him forever. And then out of our deep worship flows our work for Him. Our work is only acceptable to God if our worship is acceptable.