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Answering the Call - Why Your Work Matters to God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
January 25, 2023 5:00 am

Answering the Call - Why Your Work Matters to God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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January 25, 2023 5:00 am

Would you like to take your job and turn it into a place of joy, fulfillment, opportunity, and, yes, even ministry? If you’re ready to take your work to the next level join Chip Ingram today as he continues his current series, “Answering the Call.”

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Are you bored at your job?

Does your work leave you feeling unfulfilled? If so, stay with me. We're going to learn how God can help us experience real, lasting joy and fulfillment every day when we get up and go to work.

Don't go away. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. We're in the middle of our series, Answering the Call, how to discover and fulfill God's purpose for your life. And whether you've been at the same job for years or looking to start a new career, this message will cause you to see your work in a fresh, more meaningful way. So with that, let's join Chip for his talk, Why Your Work Matters to God.

I like to just start by pondering. You know, we talk that, you know, just like when the phone rings, you know, we learned a few basic things. You expect someone to be on the other end. You expect when they call, they have a reason for calling. You expect they actually know you because they have your number.

And there's probably going to be a significant impact or at least a minimal impact of what happens when someone calls. They don't just call for neutral reasons. Sometimes they ask to help. Sometimes they ask for help.

Sometimes they give you information that changes what you do with your whole life. And we just said God has a call on your life and a call on mine. And there's some questions that grow out of that that I would like to ponder.

The first one is, how can we live above the daily grind? I mean, a lot of us, I don't live every moment of every day with the sense of God has called me and this is the work of my hands and I sense His great power and His great direction. A lot of days are like, you know, I was out of town and I came back to 111 emails. Are you kidding me?

God, this can't be your will. My buddy is here who runs all the broadcast ministry and he has been, I mean, just there's been so many things to do. And we drove down together and he's staying down where he has Wi-Fi. So I said, what are you doing?

He says, I have 1100 emails. That's got to be satanic. In the garage, I don't know about you, I clean out my garage about every, I won't tell you how long, but it just, it miraculously just gets filled with junk and, you know, the lawn, it looks really nice, right? You know, a week later, 10 days later, you got this big mess on your hands again. I mean, there's just part of life that's daily grind, you just do it, do it, do it. And to give a picture of how we think about work, I came across a series by Ken Boa and Gail Burnett and Ken's a friend. And in this opening to Wisdom at Work, he says, there's no doubt that there's more job titles in America than any place in the world. And then I love who put this. And we have a tremendous vocabulary to describe our work.

Listen to this. We Americans work like horses. We work like dogs and work like slaves. We work our fingers to the bone. We keep our noses to the grindstone.

We put our shoulders to the wheel. We pound away, plug along, and buckle down until we're overdriven, overtasked, overtaxed, and overburdened. For our arduous, onerous, and wearisome labors, we receive hard-fought, hard-earned dollars. Our reward for giving the sweat of our brow with the might and the main, tooth and nail, heart and soul. We leave work fatigued, bone-weary, worn out, used up, pooped, bushed, frazzled, spent, exhausted, and just plum-tuckered out.

I don't know who wrote that, but they're really good. But isn't that exactly how often you get to the end of the day? So how do you overcome the daily grind? Second question is why are the majority of people dissatisfied with their jobs? Another little piece of research, I found 75% of American workers are in the wrong job. Three out of four people go to a job they're not fitted for, called for, excited about, or satisfied in. It is either, I need to do this to get a paycheck, or you know what, I'm afraid to try anything else, but I go to work, I put in my time, and it's called T-G-I-F, right? I mean, Monday's a pain, more Mondays have absency days than any other, and the whole goal of life, T-G-I-F, thank God it's Friday, I just want to get it over with so I can get to the weekend because work isn't even life, it's a necessary evil.

In fact, it got so popular they named a restaurant, T-G-I-F. Third question is how can the place where we spend the majority of our waking hours be transformed from drudgery to delight? 60 to 80% of your waking hours, guess what you do? You work.

Think of that. 60 to 80% of your waking hours you work, and 75% of Americans are looking at it as, I just want to get this over with to get to the weekend. Sounds like an awful waste, doesn't it? If that's really true, and that's how it's supposed to be, you could almost come up with a thesis that God is kind of cruel to call us into doing things 60 to 80% of our waking hours that are just a necessary evil or a pain in the rear to get over with so that we can have a little bit of pleasure and a little bit of fun and do something meaningful, maybe even like ministry.

So what's the answer? My suggestion is the answer, we must totally rethink our view and attitudes of work. Dorothy Sayers wrote this, work is to be seen not as a necessary drudgery to be undergoing for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find his proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. It should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself. And man made in God's image should make things as God makes things.

How does he make them? For the sake of doing well, a thing worth well doing. And now, in your notes, it says a theology of work. I'm gonna just take a run at something, okay? And so sometimes when you're gonna do something, you feel like you're gonna crash into something, I like to tell people, are you ready?

We're gonna try and crash into something. It says a theology of work, theo means God, ology is a study of. We're gonna do a study from God's perspective of how he views work.

And that little funny quote about nose to the grindstone, we work like dog, that is so revealing, our vocabulary always reveals in the culture how we view things. Our vocabulary is work is bad, work is negative, work is a necessary evil. In fact, some people would even believe that work is cursed by God. And that we have to go through life figuring out how to get out of work. In fact, if any of you have owned businesses, there's a mentality of people that you employ, and these are the ones you don't want to employ. They want to get paid as much as possible to do as little as possible and leave as early as possible, right?

You don't want to hire those kind of people. But that's how the world views work. I want to say what, if we pull back the lens, what does God say about work? And I want to challenge you to kind of, you know, in your mind, one of those whiteboards, erase what you think about work right now and say, God, I would like you to write on the whiteboard of my mind and then my soul and then into my heart how you see work, because if you see work the way God sees work, it'll change everything.

It'll change 60 to 80 percent of the waking hours that you have. And you'll learn that God created work not as a punishment, but to allow you to be a co-creator and express your unique calling and blessing. Now, we're going to learn there is, it's in a fallen world and it's difficult.

I'm not saying that it's going to be easy, but I'm going to say it can be greatly meaningful. So with that, let's just do a little study together. First is God is a worker, Genesis 2, 2 and 3.

Notice in your notes. And on the seventh day, God ended his work, which he has done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work, which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because he rested from all his work, which he had created and he had made. And we don't have time to get into it, but there's about four Hebrew words that are translated when work is done. Two of these Hebrew words talk about times where work has to do with anguish and toil and suffering, and it's after the fall or when it's self-imposed. When the Egyptians were making the Israelites work, there's a Hebrew word for that in there, their tiresome toil.

It's their suffering, someone's making you do something you don't want to do. The other two Hebrew words talk about building, creating, activity, delighting. Very, very positive. The God of the universe, are you ready for this? He works.

So it can't be evil, right? He works. He creates. He builds. He makes. He constructs.

He sustains. God is a worker. Have you ever thought of God as a worker? Have you ever thought that God has a job? God has a career, you know? And his career is to speak into existence all that there is, and he's working right now. The scripture says he upholds all things, what?

By the word of his power. Jesus has a job. You know what Jesus is doing right now? He's praying for you 24-7.

How's it work? I have no idea. But he's at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for you. The Holy Spirit, third person that got it, he has a job. What's his job? His job is to manifest the presence and the power of Christ in the life inside of believers, to give you grace, to impart all that you need to create actually the want to and the ability to allow Christ to live his life through you. And the Holy Spirit has a job description for those who are not yet in Christ.

What's he do? He convicts the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. The Spirit of God has a job. He's working.

So work must not be bad. Second observation in our theology of work is God created people to be his co-workers. Look at Genesis 2-15. Then the Lord God took the man, put him in the garden of Eden to tend it and to keep it. God made the world. And when he made the world, remember what he said? It is good.

And then God made mankind, Adam and Eve. And then he said it is very good. Again, Kim Boa writes, for the word good in Hebrew Tov paints a clearer picture of perfection than does the English translation. This word means abundantly pleasant, exceedingly pleasing.

It is also translated beautiful, charming, cheerful, delightful, safe, sound, worthy. When God got done with his work, he, whew, beautiful, delightful, worthy. And then God invites us to be co-workers. We're made in his image to do that which is good, that which is creative, that which brings life.

There's a garden but it required someone to work the garden in a perfect environment. From the beginning, God designed a garden that would be dependent upon a steward. In that design, he created a job for Adam before he created Adam himself.

Why do you think God would do this? Adam and Eve's assignment were to take the earth's raw materials and begin nurturing, organizing and shaping them into something useful, a creative task intended to give each of them purpose and pleasure. Final quote, if we understand that God delighted in his creative work and that created human beings to share in his image and likeness, then we realize that work was a marvelous gift from God.

Is that how you see it? When you think of work, you think wow, what a marvelous gift from God. Or do you look at work, oh man, get this done, get this over with. Then we realize that it is reasonable to believe indeed that work was given before the fall to meet the human need for purpose, creative expression and that it is a need that goes far deeper than mere self-preservation. The desire to work then was ignited by a divine spark that drew both Adam and Eve into creative activities.

Anything else they could do would reflect the image of the creator more than this for which they are called to do each and every day and that is to work. And so what I want you to just get is God is a worker. We are created to co-create and work with him and then notice work after the fall, Genesis 3, 17 through 19 in your notes, we notice that this is where there is a shift, there is a turn and it gets pretty ugly.

After Adam and Eve have sinned, sin enters the world and the sin impacted human mankind but it also impacted creation. Jot down in the side of your notes Romans chapter 8 because a little later what we are going to learn is the whole creation is going to be groaning for a day when it comes out from under the subjection of what the curse has done. Work is going to be different, it's going to be frustrating. The work will not be cursed, be careful with that. The ground is cursed. The work is still to be a co-creator with God. The work is to have meaning and purpose and creativity but now instead of it being all delight and being downhill it will always be uphill.

But you are still made in the image of God, now it's going to be in an environment of hostility and war. Look at what the text says. Then to Adam God said because you have heeded the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you saying you shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground.

Why? For your sake. In your toil or work you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the herb of the field.

In the sweat of your face you shall eat the bread till you return to the ground. For out of it you were taken, for dust you are and to dust you will return. What's happened is work didn't get cursed, the ground got cursed and it produces what? Frustration. Now by the way this was a gift of grace.

Did you notice that little phrase? It was cursed for your sake. I don't know about you but I know God, every perfect gift comes from above, from the father of lights. So how does this gift of cursing the ground, where's grace in that one?

Let me step back and have you look at something. Mankind lived in a perfect environment with a God that loved them perfectly. Now they sin and there's a guard put around and the guard put around is so that this state can't stay there forever. From the foundations of the earth God giving us freedom and free will to make choices to rebel against him.

Knowing that would happen but knowing the price tag of willful voluntary love is to give people the opportunity to say yes or no to the one who wants to love them. And then after the fall this curse every single day when we get up and work is hard and relationships are hard. I mean you know the, what's the scientific word for it? Entropy.

Everything is winding down. I don't mow my yard and then it starts looking better every day. I mean I don't know about you but every single day I get uglier and uglier and older and older not better and better right? That's why you got to work out and cream and vitamins and no matter what you do it happens anyway. But since the fall that's life right? You know what that tells you?

It tells you something's wrong. It reminds you every single day relationships are hard. Work is hard. It's frustrating. It's uphill.

It's doable but the curse was given to remind mankind that this is not how it was ever intended to be. And when do most of us turn to God with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind and seek him and say oh Lord I need you? Is it when everything is going great, the family relationships are wonderful, the money is pouring in, peace like a river, everything's wonderful. Everything's so good that you just say I think I'll pray for 10 or 12.

I'm teasing. You run to God and I run to God when pain hits and you're frustrated and you don't have answers. And when relationships break apart and when biopsy reports come back positive and when jobs are lost and when retirement that you work for for years and years and years drops out of sight and the stock market drops 500 or 1000 points. When you find out that the company that you work for and the money that you put in it is gone. When you find out one of your kids is on drugs.

When you're made of 21 or 32 years leaves a note on the refrigerator door that says you know what it's been nice but I don't love you anymore and they're gone. It's in our pain and frustration and disappointment that we recognize I can't make it. I'm not God. I have needs.

Please help me. The ground is cursed to provide an ongoing frustration and difficulty of doing life in your own power where we all. What was the temptation? If you eat of this you will be like God. The cursing of the ground is to remind you and remind me as you ain't like God at all. You are not self-sufficient. You are not in control. You are not the center of the universe. And the pain and the difficulty of a fallen world drives us back to say God I need your mercy.

I need your forgiveness. And so one of the consequences of the fall with regard to work is the ground is cursed and our lives are frustrated. Our response to this in my experience is two extremes. Imagine if you will sort of this idea of work and I want you to imagine way over here is an extreme and then all the way over here and on the top of the line it says W-O-R-K. And people's response after the fall to work is one extreme on the far left is that work is a necessary evil.

We've touched on that. In other words, work, Genesis 3, the fall, unconsciously work is bad. Work is cursed.

God's judgment is on work instead of the ground. It's a necessary evil. Find something. Make enough money. You know, get those things taken care of so you can really live.

Just get it out of the way. You need so much money to pay the mortgage. You need so much money for food. You need so much money to buy or rent a house.

You need so much money for a car. Life isn't about that. Just get that part of it over with so that you can have meaningful relationships, serve God, love people, care for kids and grandkids, and you just sort of bite your lower lip and say, you know, work is a royal, royal pain but I guess it's because of the fall and I'll just get through it. The other extreme in response to the fall is over here is that I will find my significance and I will rule my world and I will win and work is what will make me significant. And I'll show you. I'll work harder. I'll work longer. I will build bigger. I will build better. My life is my work.

My identity is my work. When's the last time, guys, you met another guy? Hey, how are you doing? Pretty good. How are you? So how are the kids doing? How are you feeling inside?

I mean, is that where we go, man? What's one of the top two questions? You don't know someone. We don't know exactly what to talk about. Hi, how are you doing? What do you do for a living, right?

Where do we go immediately? Our work becomes our identity and then we create an entire pecking order, right? So, you know, if you have a job where your hands don't get dirty, you're kind of way up here and if you have a job that creates a lot of zeros around your name at the end of it, then you're way up here or if you have a job, even if it's not that much money, if there's a lot of letters after your name, you know, PhD or TH something or ED something or MS or MBA, well, that's something. And then we have the pecking order. But if you have a job where your hands get dirty or you do certain things that we decide, then you're not as significant. So our work becomes the value and estimation of our significance. And every little boy and every little girl grows up in a world where by and large that's true. And I want to suggest that both of those extremes are unbiblical.

If you don't think we have them, let me play this out. You know, I'm talking to my son or daughter and they're ready to go away from school or they're graduating from high school and they're making career choices and they're asking me kind of what they ought to do. And this is supposed to be a spiritual, wonderful, godly response because I so love my kids. And so when they talk with their kids in counseling for many, many years, here's what I hear over and over and over.

You know, my son or daughter, you know, they have to declare their major and they don't know exactly what they ought to do. And you know what I did? I just said, well, honey, whatever will make you happy, that's what I want you to do. You see, I believe you're a narcissist. And I believe I'm the parent of a narcissist. And so what really the world centers around you and whatever you want to do, whether it's valuable to society, whether you're gifted for it, whether it has any value whatsoever, I just want you to be happy. And we slide into it, don't we?

Then there's the other side of what should I do? And, well, what's the job market like and what can you, you know, that's a stupid job. Man, you're going to be cleaning tables the rest of your life if you do something like that. I've looked at it and tell you what, this is the job where you can make money. And so what we tell our kids is one of two things. We want you to have a job where either you make a lot of money and you can be successful because money is how you become significant and money is how you get stuff and stuff is what makes you a somebody and comfort and pleasure is what we really fulfill. Of course that kind of breaks down when you go to LA and you see all those people with all that money and all that comfort and they put all that white powder up their nose and change mates like underwear about every six weeks.

But anyway, let's not deal with the facts right now. You know, you got to make a lot of money or we want you to be happy. And my point is all that goes back to a perverted unbiblical view of work after the fall. God is a worker.

It is good. God called us to co-create, to build, to make, to shape, to subdue. And so it is a good thing.

But the fall has introduced that it is going to be hard, it is going to be difficult, and that produces frustration for us and a tendency to think it's a necessary evil or it's the answer. Fourth, work under the lordship of Christ. Colossians 3 17. Colossians 3 17. Apostle Paul says in whatever you do in word or deed, that covers about everything, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through God the Father. So he says here, wait a second, whatever you do in word or deed, working, talking, speaking, do it unto, you take it, it's sanctified, and you do it as an act of worship and service unto God. I mean, many of you maybe have read the little booklet, it's just a thin little paperback about Brother Lawrence and practicing the presence of God, and he was a monk probably 400 years ago or so. And his job in the monastery was to do the dishes. And he began to write how he would offer each dish to God, and in every moment of the day he would pray and honor God and take his life as literally a living moment by moment sacrifice.

And if you've never read that book, that book was a little turning point. I'd been a Christian maybe a couple of years, and so I would get up and I would pray, and I'd read my Bible, because I was with a group where that was really important and I'm glad, it really helped me, and maybe memorize a verse, and then once a week I'd go to a Bible study, and I would pray, and then I would click off, and then I'd just go do through my day. And I could go all day and not think about God, and then oh, before I go to bed, click, hi God, I'm back, you know, like he went somewhere. And I would pray, because you're supposed to do that, and then I'd go to bed, and I read that little book, and I realized I was missing about 23 and a half hours of the day, is that God was with me at basketball practice. And God was with me when I walked from class to class.

And I could talk to him anywhere, anytime. And I could be in a test and not remember something and say, Lord, could you bring this back to my memory? I'd like to do the very best I can. I want to do my school work unto you. I don't want to impress my teachers.

I don't want to, my grades are not the indication of my value or my worth. Lord, every moment of every day of everything, I'd like to learn how to practice your presence. And this is what he's talking about here, that it changes work. It sanctifies work. I met a couple from a Lutheran background, and they said, well, you know, we've been kind of big on this for a long time. And, you know, Luther actually made this great statement about if a woman is just scraping a pan or changing a diaper and doing it as unto the Lord, it's just as holy as the Pope giving a speech. It kind of got him in a little trouble in his day.

But I would rephrase it. You know, a young mom driving kids to school, cleaning the house, and creating an environment that is nurturing and loving is as important to God done unto the Lord and will receive the same kind of reward as any pastor, any missionary preaching God's Word in the most difficult places of the world. Because when you do what you're called to do and when you do your work unto the Lord, it is sanctified. It's set apart. And see, we unconsciously, we're always comparing ourselves with other people. You know, I got news for you. You know what? This is not a party line. God doesn't call and get, you know, half a dozen people on the wire and say, hey, here's what I'm thinking about all of you, and then in about 10 years I'm going to check up and find out, you know, who's doing best, you know, and then I'm going to rank you one, two, three, or four. He has my number. He's got your number. He has a reason to call me.

He's got a different reason to call you. He made me different than he made you. He gave you a different background, different parents, different intellect, different personality, different spiritual gifts than me. So his call and success is you doing what he made you and called you to do, and when you do that unto the Lord, whether it appears grandiose and outward or whether it's quiet and behind the scenes, then you are working unto the Lord, and it has eternal value.

Think of that. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Why Your Work Matters to God. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from our series, Answering the Call.

Are you looking for a job, starting a new career, or just desperate for a fresh perspective on your current employment? Through this eight-part series, Chip unpacks what the Bible has to say about this idea of work and reveals why God intended it to be more than just what we do for a living. Stay with us as we discover how to find genuine enjoyment and fulfillment in our work and bring praise to God through it. To get more plugged in with this series or our many resources, visit LivingOnTheEdge.org.

That's LivingOnTheEdge.org. Before we go on, Chip's joined me in studio to talk about what's been on his heart recently. Thanks, Dave. I'll be right back in just a minute with some final thoughts from today's message. But I just want to take a moment and share with you something very exciting that's happening in my life. I go to a church where the people are super young, and most of them have very little experience to the gospel, the Bible. And Teresa and I opened our home and said, Would you just want to explore the faith? And some are believers, and some are seekers, and we're just having a fabulous time. And the one theme that I keep hearing, I mean, these are twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four-year-olds, and they just are asking, Is there any real purpose in life, and how do you discover God's purpose for your life? And I'm reminding them that God has a mission, that they are his workmanship. They're his tapestry. They're his work of art, that God has a good work from the foundations of the earth, according to Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10, that he's prepared for them.

And what I want you to know is that he's got that for you as well. I want you to think about maybe a young person or maybe even yourself, and do you know your purpose? Do you know your mission? Do you know how you're wired? Do you know your gifts?

Do you know how you fit on a team? Well, I want you to know if those are questions that you're asking, Living on the Edge right now has some answers. We've created a brand new resource called The Real You. It's an online questionnaire designed to provide insight into how God wired you. This is more than spiritual gift tests. You'll identify the patterns in which you think, what motivates you, and why teams need someone just like you.

It'll take about 20 minutes to complete, and it won't cost you a thing. Then based on your responses, The Real You will offer suggestions about how you can practically live out God's purpose for your life, whether that's at home, in the office, at church, or in your community. As a Living on the Edge questionnaire, we want you to be the first to access this resource. Head over to therealyou.org to learn more. That's therealyou.org.

Most Christians don't know how to leverage their God-given wiring and experiences for the kingdom. We want to change that. Thanks, Chip. As you can tell, we are really excited about this new resource. We hope The Real You will help you discover who you are and how God made you to think, act, and live. And as Chip said, you can sign up for this free assessment by going to therealyou.org. Or if it's easier, text real to 74141. That's the word real, R-E-A-L, to 74141.

App listeners tap special offers. Well, with that, Chip, let's get to that application you promised. As we close today's program, I want to give you a vivid reminder that we have an enemy, and his goal as our enemy is to deceive us with lies. Sometimes we think it's about really big moral things, but can you imagine if the enemy could deceive you about what you do 60 or 70 percent of all your waking hours, your work? He wants you to believe that work is bad. It's a distraction. It's something just to get done to go on to something better.

If we buy into that lie, if we surrender those waking hours, the real life, what God wants to do in you and through you, can be completely or almost completely wasted. God says, I am the creator. I made you to co-create with me. I want to do things that are wonderful and exciting, and I want to do them through you.

I give you skills and talents. Are you ready for this? Do you believe this? You are unique. And then he says, and I know what's best for you.

I know what you'll love to do. And you know what? There aren't big jobs and little jobs. There aren't big places and little places.

There aren't even big people and little people. God has made you unique. You are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus, and he wants you to do something that only you can do. And when you do that, and when you do it unto him, it's transformational. Not only in your life, but it brings beauty and life and encouragement to others.

It's different for every single person. Knowing that's the way God thinks about your work, it'll change when you get up in the morning. It'll change how you relate to people. We're going to learn how to transform our work from a job to an exciting adventure of worship. Thanks, Chip. As we close, I want you to know that as a staff, we ask the Lord to help you take whatever your next faith step is, and we'd love to hear how it's going. Would you take a minute to send a note or give us a call?

Either one is easy. Email us at chip at livingontheedge.org, or give us a call at 888-333-6003. Well, I'm glad you've been with us. Until next time, this is Dave Drewy saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-25 05:36:41 / 2023-01-25 05:50:30 / 14

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