Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter
Does the title to this devotional cause a happy feeling to rise up within you? Probably not. Many of our feelings about work are no doubt shaped by the curse that came after the fall (Gen.2:17-19.) But God, who redeems fallen things, is able to change our perspective on work.
On June 24, 1894 Congress passed a law making the first Monday in September a legal holiday, Labor Day. Yesterday was that day. How did it work out for you? On the morning after, were you ready for another day of labor, or would you rather have another day off?
Paul closes the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians with a strong statement that speaks directly to our attitude about labor. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (v.58). Reading this verse, two questions jump out, “What is the work of the Lord?”, and “Why should we have this attitude about it?”
Some people think the work of the Lord has to do with religious or spiritual activity. Well that depends on what you view as spiritual activity. Actually, everything is spiritual at its core. For the Christian, there should be no dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. Everything that God touches is sacred, and everything He calls us to do is sacred. The work of the Lord is whatever He calls us to, be it pastoring a Church or serving Him in a “secular” job.
And why should we have Paul’s attitude about our work? To understand the answer, we need to read the preceding verses (vs.51-57). These verses drive home the theme of the entire 15th chapter, which deals with the reality and significance of Christ’s resurrection, and of our resurrection in Him. Quite simply, in verses 51-57, Paul is stating that for those who are in Christ, Death is not the end. There is much more to the story.
So how does this truth set up Paul’s “Therefore” and his closing statement about labor in verse 58? Consider this. What would be your attitude toward work if your present life on earth is all there is? You might want to work in order to improve your quality of life. But if work had little recognizable impact on your quality of life, for better or worse, then you might not be motivated to work. You’d probably want another day off. You might live for the weekend.
On the other hand, if we are eternal beings, and what we do in response to God here on earth affects what we will be doing with Him throughout eternity, then our motivation for the work He has called to do could be entirely different.
Imagine if you could plot eternity on a line. The line would reach further to the right and to the left than you could even imagine. Now imagine your life on this line. Even the longest life would become a minuscule spec on the timeline of eternity. As you step into another day of work, remember, you are not ultimately laboring for the dot, but rather, for the line.
Image used, “Flax harvesting” (1904), a painting by Emile Claus