Today on Summit Life, J.D. Greer talks about pleasing God. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. Today we're continuing our study looking at some of the issues that can break down families, along with the biblical solutions to help us avoid them. And if you missed any of the previous messages in this teaching series, you can hear them online at jdgreer.com.
Today, Pastor J.D. is talking about an issue that might not seem directly related to the family, but it's actually critical for building a godly home. It's our jobs. The message is titled, What Makes Our Work? What does it look like for your work to be Christian? What does it look like for your work to be Christian?
What is it about a business that makes a business a Christian business? So what I want to try and give to you this weekend are five different things from Scripture that make your work in and of itself Christian. Five things that make work in and of itself Christian.
Number one, creation fulfilling. Let's start with Genesis 2.15, way back at the original creation. Genesis 2.15 said, The Lord God, after He had made Adam and Eve and made the earth, the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and to keep it. God had created this beautiful garden and He put a man and woman in it and before there was sin and before there was a curse, they had a job. Work was something God put into the original creation. It was something He designed us to do, something He gave us the capacity to enjoy doing. God put us in a world that was good, which means that we were to take the raw materials of the earth and develop them for His glory. The farmer takes the raw materials of soil and seed and cultivates them into crops. The architect takes the raw materials of sand and cement and creates buildings for us to live in. The artist takes the raw materials of color or music and arranges them into art pieces that we enjoy.
The insurance agent helps create systems that protect us when we go through unexpected events in our lives. This is all part of God's plan. That's how He cares for us through the skills that He's given to different ones of us to take His creation and to develop it. So in other words, your secular, ordinary work of farming or building or teaching math is spiritually significant. When you see your work connected to God's creation mandate, to develop the earth to His glory and the good of others, you'll start to get a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction out of it. So the first way that work is Christian in and of itself is that it is creation-fulfilling and done with an attitude of service toward others.
Here's the second way. Number two, excellence-pursuing. Excellence-pursuing. This is going to be found in the book of Colossians, chapter 3. The work that we do is Christian when we do it according to the highest standards of excellence because we are doing it first and foremost for God. Colossians 3, 17. Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. Our jobs are done first and foremost, he says, for God.
For God. Verse 23, whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men. Verse 24, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward for you are serving in all things the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer, or read that, slacker.
For the slacker will be paid back for the wrong that he has done and there is no partiality with that boss. So the second thing that makes work in and of itself Christian is that it is excellence-pursuing. Number three, third thing that makes work Christian, holiness-reflecting. When it's holiness-reflecting.
This is also from Colossians 3. Listen, our work should make it obvious that we serve a God of justice, a God of fairness, and a God of kindness. Our work should reflect his character, which means that our work conforms to the highest standards of ethics.
I do not know, honestly, all the answers here because each field has its own ethical issues, some of which I don't even know how to pronounce. But what I do know is that our work is to reflect the equity, justice, and kindness of God's character. So Paul says this in Colossians 4. Masters treat your servants justly and fairly knowing that you also have a master in heaven. In other words, in every work interaction you have, you've got a master in heaven to whom you will report.
So you treat somebody unfairly because they either A, won't find out about it or B, can't do anything about it. Paul says, well, you've got a master in heaven who will find out about it and will always do something about it. You might be able to get away with cheating others, but you will never get away, he says, with cheating God. So if you have this disconnect, you cheat and you cut corners at work, you short customers, all the while maintaining faithful church attendance as if God is happier with your participation at his house than he is with your emulation of his character in your jobs.
You want to know what he wants from you is not more church attendance, what he wants for you is to walk in integrity and kindness and generosity and to reflect his character in the way that you work. Proverbs 11 chapter 1, look at this, a false balance is an abomination to the Lord. Abomination, that's a strong word, isn't it? Abomination is reserved for the strongest sins in the Bible. Sexual perversion, betrayal, murder, exploitation of the poor.
Yet here you've got a false balance going in the same category. That means shorting the customer, not giving your boss who is paying you a full week's worth of work, getting paid for more than you're doing, cutting a corner, an abomination. It is an abomination when you do shabby work or that doesn't give your employer his money worth or your employees what they are doing, an abomination. Some of you really ought to just think about that because you keep thinking that God's happy with you because you come to church a lot and you're pretty religiously active. God wants to see his character lived out in the way that you conduct yourself in the place where you work.
That is the best offering to him. Worship is not just what we do in here with our hands raised. Worship is how we treat the customers and our employers. That's where you worship and reflect the character of God. Number four, something that makes work inherently Christian is when it's redemption demonstrating. Redemption demonstrating, we're going to get this one from Luke 14 which we went over a couple of weeks ago.
Basically, it's this. People who have been touched by the gospel think about more than just fairness and equity in their jobs because their whole approach to life has been redefined by what Christ has done for them. I heard a story one time of an advertising executive in New York City, Madison Avenue. Now, if you don't know much about the advertising world, that's the place that you go to get the job.
I mean, that's Wall Street for bankers, Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Well, this guy has this job there. He is a believer, a girl from one of the premier schools with an advertising program gets a job in his...
Excuse me, take it back. She got an internship at his advertising firm. Internships are very competitive there. You don't get like two or three shots because it's cutthroat.
Everybody's trying to get these internships. She makes a mistake after being there for three or four weeks, cost the company $25,000. Now, in that world, you do not get a second chance. And she knew that her dreams of being on Madison Avenue were shot at that point. Well, her direct supervisor, this guy that I was talking about who was a Christian, goes in in front of the board of directors and says this. She says, you know what?
I'd actually like to take the heat for this one. I'm going to say that I didn't train her right, which may have been true, but really wasn't true. It was purely her mistake. He said, but I didn't train her enough.
I probably should have done a few other things to help her get prepared for this. Will you let me take the hit? Because he had the social capital with that company to be able to absorb the hit. Will you let me take the hit instead of her? The board of directors said, well, you do have a lot of social capital here. You've got a long history.
We'll let you do that. So he absorbed the blow of her mistake. She comes in a few hours later, having found out what's happened in tears, comes into his office and she leans down across his desk and she says, why? Why? She goes, they told me about this world here on Madison Avenue that it's cutthroat. And the idea of somebody now not only not cutting my throat, but actually cutting their own throat because of something I did wrong. Why would you do that?
I've never heard of this in New York City. The guy smiled and he said, well, since you asked, I'll tell you that about 15 years ago, my life was profoundly changed by somebody who did something like this for me. Jesus Christ, when I had sinned so that I was now to be cast out of God's presence, Jesus Christ took my penalty into his body. And that has been so life altering for me that whenever I see somebody in that situation that I can help, something in my heart just wants to do for them what Jesus has done for me. That is redemption demonstration in the midst of a job.
This also means, redemption demonstrating means that you figure out how to leverage your business to bless those in need and how your business can be used to take the gospel to places that's not been known. So this month, we want to equip you to care well for people in your life, whether it's someone who lives in your house or someone you work with or even a long lost friend. Our newest resource is a pack of encouraging greeting cards meant to help us grow the relationships that mean the most to us.
Next month is Thanksgiving and the perfect time to reach out to someone, let them know that you're thankful for them or maybe even mend a broken relationship. Reach out today in support of this ministry and give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to jdgrier.com and get this box set of cards today. You remember a few weeks ago in the sermon on Luke 14, I showed you that Jesus commanded his followers, you remember this, to throw their parties for people who couldn't pay them back. Don't throw your party and fill it up with people who just turn around and invite you to their party.
No, no, throw the party of your life for people who can't pay you back because that's what Jesus said I did for you. For example, you start thinking about how your business can help the poor. Even if it's not the best financial investment, you think I want to help empower people who otherwise wouldn't have that ability.
You start thinking about the Great Commission bottom line. Where can I use my business to get the gospel into places that it's never been? Redemption demonstrating means also that for those of you that God has blessed you with much, it means you give away a lot of it to the Great Commission. Listen to me, that's why God gave you those resources and those talents and that ability. He didn't make you so good at what you are so you can make lots of money and just ratchet up your lifestyle. You say, well, God gave me that, yeah, whatever. I was the one who went to school and I was the one who worked hard and I was the one who pulled myself up by my bootstraps and I was born poor and I did all this and I'm the one who's worked, I put in late hours all this money, I earned it.
Oh, really? Well, whose hair did you breathe the whole time? Yeah, probably God's. Oh, and that talent that you got and that desire, that drive, where did that come from? It probably came from God, something he put inside of you. In fact, you were born in the United States.
You're really telling me that if you were born as a poor child in a slum in India that your life would have turned out the same? Be serious. Grace. You have received grace, the fact that any of you aren't in hell right now.
It's grace. And when you get that, when you get how much of your life has been fueled by grace, you'll start to naturally begin to share it with others. Leveraging your life for the Great Commission is not the calling of a sacred few. Leveraging your life for the Great Commission is the responsibility of every disciple of Jesus. I hear people say, well, I just don't feel called to use my skill for missions or I don't feel called to give my resources away. What?
What? That call to give away your resources and that call to leverage your skill for the Great Commission, that was known as the call to follow Jesus. There's no way for you to follow Jesus and not be leveraging your resources and your skill for the purposes of the Great Commission. Sometimes I feel like we invented this whole language of calling in the church just to mask the fact that the majority of people in church aren't really living as disciples of Jesus. So we've got this special kind of called group and then the rest of us that are just spectators. The people that are fans of Jesus but not followers. Followers of Jesus are people. I'm not saying you all come into the ministry.
I'm just saying they're people who start to say, okay, how can the skills that I have, how can I use them for the kingdom of God and for the glory of God and for the Great Commission and for His kingdom and not my own? Which leads me to the last thing. Number five. Fifth thing that makes business in and of itself Christian. Mission advancing. Mission advancing. That's going to be in Acts chapter 28 verse 14.
I make this point with you guys a lot. But throughout church history the gospel has gone forward on the wings of business. Study it.
Study anybody's version of it. The gospel has gone forward most effectively on the wings of business. Even in the days of the first apostles when the apostles were basically super heroes. Guys like Peter and Paul and Philip and Andrew and Thomas. Even in those days merchants seemed to be able to carry the gospel around the world faster and more effectively than the apostles themselves can. You say, well that sounds a little blasphemous.
All right. Acts 28 verse 14. You know that Paul, his whole trajectory of his life is to take Christ where he's never been named, right? Isn't that Paul's trajectory? From Acts chapter 9 where Jesus appears to him on the road.
To Acts chapter 28, last chapter in Acts, that's what Paul is doing. He's headed to take Christ to places where he's never been named. So he wants to go to Rome.
Why? Because Rome is the capital of the world. What a great place to start a church planting center from, right? Acts 28, 14. The climax of the whole book.
We've been leading up to this point. Paul is just a couple of miles outside of Rome. Verse 14. And there we found brothers. Not like Paul's cousins that he knew from his family reunion. Brothers in Christ and we were invited to stay with him for seven days. Not only brothers, but brothers who understood hospitality. And they're like, oh Paul, you're a guest here.
Why don't you come to our house? Show you a little Bible study we've got going on. Show you a few palace guards that we've led to Christ. And so we came to Rome.
I kind of hear a sigh in that. We came to Rome. Paul's in a rat race to take the gospel around the world to places Jesus has never been named. When he gets to Rome, he's greeted by other Christians who were not apostles. They were merchants.
And they'd beaten him there. So I say to you again, merchants seem to be able to carry the gospel around the world faster and more effectively than even the apostles can. Stephen Neal, in fact, said this in his book, A History of Christian Missions. Which is otherwise a pretty nerdy book.
I'm going to read you the one really good part out of it, okay? But in point of fact, few, if any, of the great churches were really founded by apostles. Nothing is more notable than the anonymity of these early missionaries. Luke, the writer of Acts, does not turn aside to mention the name of a single one of those pioneers who laid the foundation. Peter and Paul may have organized the church in Rome, but they certainly did not found it. He goes on to point out that not one, not one of the major Christian church planting centers, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome.
Not one of them was founded by an apostle. And today, and today, the unreached mission field seems to be custom designed by God. So that only kingdom focused businessmen and women can be the ones who can get the gospel into these most lost parts of the world. For example, most unreached peoples are found in something that missiologists refer to as the 1040 window. It's the 10th parallel and the 40th parallel. In between those is something they refer to as the 1040 window where the majority of unreached people groups live.
They are primarily Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist. These are also countries in the 1040 window where you will find the greatest concentration of the world's poor. You have unemployment rates in these countries ranging from between 30 and 70 percent. One source that I was looking at said that 50 percent or so of the population in the areas of the 1040 window are under the age of 20.
50 percent! And that unemployment rates are likely to soar in those areas in the coming years. Some estimates indicate that up to 2 billion young people are going to be looking for jobs over the next 20 years. For example, Iran. I mean, that's an unreached people group, right? That's a scary place.
That's a hard place for church planters to go into. Iran has at least 10 million unemployed right now, and in the next 15 years, 20 million more are going to be searching for jobs. So how is Iran going to be reached? From our perspective, it's not going to probably be through church planters.
It's going to be through businessmen and women. Now, I know this doesn't apply to all of you, but some of you have something that you can and you should do overseas. And I want to help you do that. That's what we as a church want to help you do. I want to help you discover that. We say a thousand churches by 2050. Many of those churches are going to be built side by side with businesses that you help us bring into those countries that we can go with you. I don't have all the answers.
I don't. I can't lay out a plan for you exactly what it's going to look like. But let's discover it together. Let's start believing it together. Let's start praying about it. And why don't you start praying about what God has given you and say, let's enter into a conversation and let's all brainstorm. And let's say by 2050, we got a thousand churches all around the world in places that the gospel was completely shut off to. But your skill, your secular skill is what God used, just like he always has through church history, to get the gospel into those places. You have a role. That's my whole point.
Businessman or businesswoman, for all these reasons, your work matters. All these reasons. Creation fulfilling. Redemption demonstrating. Holiness reflecting. Excellence pursuing. Mission advancing.
I mentioned at the beginning of this message that I've seen this model through my mom and my dad. My dad retired from Sarah Lee a couple of years ago. He was immediately hired back to be a consultant for them as they opened some plants in some of the countries that we would consider to be some of the most unreached countries on the planet. There he is able over those two years to mingle with and interact with some of their top businessmen. People I would have never gotten side to side with. Led one of them to Christ. Planted the gospel and a few others. These are people that, as a church planner, I would only have dreamed about being able to get up close to. He's up with them, some of the influencers of society, and seeing them come to Christ. See, God has a purpose for you, and you may not even know what it is, and maybe you need to start thinking about it and praying about it. He got into that place and obtained that audience, not through seminary, but through business. So your work matters.
It can make an eternal difference. Again, you say, well, what's all this got to do with the home? What's this got to do with the home? Some of your jobs, they feel so meaningless, so purposeless, that you bring that into the home, and so you end up looking in your home for things that you really ought to be finding from living out God's plan for you. You're so bored in your job, you're expecting the home to do something for you, the home was never designed to do. Living out God's plan was supposed to add this into your life, and you don't know how to do that. That's how this applies to the home.
See, what I'm going to tell you is, if you could ever find the purpose that God had for your life, if you ever started to live out that purpose, it wouldn't cure all the problems in your home, but what it would do is it would add a level of purpose into your life that would cause a lot of the stress at home to disappear because you would quit looking for in your home what you should be finding in the satisfaction of living out the plan of God in your life. You see, your entire attitude toward your work changes. What do I always tell you? What changes everything? The gospel. The gospel changes your attitude toward your work.
The gospel begins like this. You were designed, you were designed by God with a purpose, a creation purpose. Psalm 139 says you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
You have specific talents and skills. God put those in you. Some of you that aren't even believers are recognizing that. The gospel continues that you and I traded what God had given us instead of using it for His glory.
We turned it in on ourselves, and we became selfish with it, and that separated us from God and threw everything out of whack. The gospel is that God loved us so much that He came to earth, who leveraged His position and His resources, poured Himself out so that you and I could be saved. And if you and I receive that as a free gift, if we ever get our minds around that and we embrace it, it fundamentally changes our attitude toward our work because we quit saying instead of using all my stuff for me, I want to leverage my life, my resources, my talents, and pour them out for others just as Jesus poured His out for me. The gospel transforms everything, even your work life. What better way to transform our homes than having a healthy perspective on our work? You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and a message from our teaching series called Home Wreckers. So as a relatively young ministry, we're so grateful for all of those people who have partnered with us on this Summit Life journey.
Right, J.D.? Myla, you are exactly right. It has been amazing to see what God is doing. Let me just say this to all of our listeners, especially those of you who are gospel partners. We are so grateful for those of you that have come alongside of us and prayed for us and supported us financially.
We consider you not givers to the ministry. We consider you part of the ministry because your gifts have helped us reach so many new people. This month, we are inviting you to consider taking your support to the next level by becoming what we call a monthly gospel partner.
Every penny of that goes toward producing and distributing these messages. We even take at least 10 percent of all that's brought in, and we dedicate that at least 10 percent to planting new churches. We would love to have you join where God is working through this ministry. And yeah, I invite you to do that, to consider it, to pray about it, to go to jdgreer.com and check it out. When you sign up for an ongoing monthly gift of thirty five dollars or more, you become part of that gospel partner family. And for your first gift as a partner, we'll send you a box of 20 inspirational greeting cards to help you encourage some of the people in your life. Your gift to the ministry right now helps us proclaim this powerful gospel message every single day all across the country and around the world.
We truly couldn't do this without you. As always, you can visit us at jdgreer.com or call us right now at 866-335-5220. I'm Molly Vitovich inviting you to join us tomorrow when we're talking about a common struggle, fear. Learn how to break free Wednesday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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