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GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP) -- "Work gives meaning to life. It is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others." This quote, by Lester DeKoster, the former director of the Calvin College and Seminary library, condenses the importance of this simple yet profound truth, that work is the basis for all that we are put on earth to accomplish.
You and I were designed by God to work. Work is not a curse that we must endure, it is the way we experience purpose, meaning and joy. It's what we were created to do -- work and produce. In fact, not working takes a greater toll on us in the long run. I don't mean resting and taking care of our bodies, but avoiding work altogether, which is the road to misery and ruin.
Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, wrote, "God created human beings in His own image and part of being 'in His image' means that we are workers -- like God Himself. That's where that innate, inner drive for work comes from. Work is part of God's nature."
Since we are created in God's image and divinely ordained for work, we are to rule over the lower creation. This distinctive trait allows for self-expression, the potential to be used for great causes to serve the needs of the world and to bring glory to God in the process.
As believers, our work should be excellent in every way. Christians should be the most desired of all employees or employers in the world. Why? Because we believe in the dignity of hard work and strive to do our best with the motivation that we are representing the God who created us for His purposes. His Word gives us clear instruction to work hard:
"Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
"You shall work six days" (Exodus 34:21).
"If anyone will not work, neither let him eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
In my travels, I've experienced cultures where work is not valued or practiced among the men in the community. The consequences that result from these practices are always misery, suffering and extreme poverty. Far too often, Christians attempt to treat only the symptoms of poverty through generosity and charitable help alone. Unfortunately, if we avoid dealing with the root issue in these cultures -- a lack of knowledge of God and His teachings -- their errant beliefs remain unchanged. Misery simply returns when the giving stops.
However, if we make it our mission to nurture believers in this community, the bountiful fruit produced by transformed people will be an ongoing witness to the goodness of God and His ways. But that's not all!
Lester DeKoster expanded his insight into the exponential impact of our work on the whole of civilization: "Lay a blanket of seeds upon a field, and behold, a harvest! Lay a blanket of work upon the world, and behold, a civilization!"
WORK IN THE AREA WHERE GOD HAS GIVEN YOU SKILL
It honors the Father when we are true to work according to our design. Ralph Mattson and Arthur Miller make this point quite well in their book, "Finding a Job You Can Love":
"We please God when we act the way we are designed to act, when we are who God designed us to be. When such actions are carried out with the intention of being expressions of love to Him, they do in fact become expressions of love to Him."
A friend once helped me understand the importance of knowing God's unique design of my inner man. He encouraged me to seek understanding of my gifts, interests, skills and values and to operate accordingly in my chosen area of work. He said, "Chuck, a John Deere Tractor is not a Mercedes Benz and a bulldog is not a Chihuahua, so you would not attempt to plow a field driving a Mercedes or train the Bulldog to sit in your lap. Likewise you should not work in an area where God has not designed you to be successful." How true.
Can you imagine a bluebird trying to be a woodpecker just so it can attract more attention? His bill is not equipped for drilling holes. A bluebird honors its Creator by being a very beautiful bluebird. Likewise, those who recognize their talents and use them for the glory of God become a magnificent testimony to the work of the Creator.
Since our work is meant to reflect God's glory, we need to recognize this as the proper motivation for our labors. Our work is a sacred act of worship. It is a daily opportunity to share God's goodness. If we are motivated by greed, pride or a desire to become powerful in man's world, we fail to achieve our life's purpose.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10).
"... And every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded" (Exodus 36:1).
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. This is an excerpt from Chuck Bentley's book, "The Root of Riches: What if Everything You Think about Money Is Wrong." Bentley's latest book, is "The S.A.L.T. Plan, How to Prepare for an Economic Crisis of Biblical Proportions." To sign up for Chuck's free weekly e-newsletter, "Handwriting on the Wall," visit Crown.org/handwriting or call 1-800-722-1976.