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Work as Worship

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 20, 2023 9:00 am

Work as Worship

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 20, 2023 9:00 am

Whether you’re working your dream job, or are dreaming of the day you can retire, your work is way more important than you think!

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Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. There are some of you who, in your work, feel this almost divine satisfaction.

Maybe you're not even a Christian and you're not even sure what to call it. But you just know that there is something when you are working where you feel like you're doing what you're born to do. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. When we think about serving God, we usually imagine ourselves joining a ministry team at church or volunteering at a nonprofit organization. And those are definitely great things to do. But those aren't the only places where we can glorify God with our service. Today, Pastor J.D. explains how we can worship God and advance the gospel every day in our workplace. And whether you're working your dream job now or are dreaming of the day you can retire, your job is way more important than you think. If you missed any of the messages from earlier this week from our teaching series, you can find them online anytime at J.D.

Greer dot com. But for now, it's time to get started on this extremely important topic. Pastor J.D. titled this message, Work as Worship.

We are in a shorter series here called God and the Rest of the Week. And the big idea behind this series is that most Christians tend to think of worship or living for God as something they do inside of the church. And so to get really committed to Jesus for most people means that you get busy in church, means you start volunteering at the church nursery. You start attending small group. You start going on a mission trip.

You serve at the soup kitchen for a couple of hours during the week. At the church I grew up in, we had a little statement called Three to Thrive. And it meant that if you were going to be a really committed Christian, you had to come to church at least three times a week. And that was just to hear the sermon three times a week.

And then that didn't count all the other stuff you had to do. I think the theory was that if he kept us busy enough, we wouldn't have time to sin. But in that line of thinking, our jobs, our secular jobs, I don't have a secular job, as I told you. I am a professional Christian, which means I get paid to be good.

You all are good for nothing. So our secular jobs in this kind of thinking are necessities that need to be endured in order to put bread on the table. And if God has any interest in our jobs, it is primarily that we don't cheat and that we tithe off of our salaries. And when we think about people who do try to bring God into the workplace, well, all kinds of disturbing images come to mind.

I've pointed these out to you. You think that to be a Christian businessperson is to open up a coffee shop called Hebrews or Holy Grounds or something like that. Maybe for you, it's defiantly saying Merry Christmas.

Maybe that's what you did. You said Merry Christmas when somebody said Happy Holidays to you or maybe sneaking in a blessed day, have a blessed day to somebody. That's your way of being a Christian at work or giving away Jesus themed gifts at Christmas. Any of these things you're like, I'm just not really sure what I can get away with. I'm not cheesy.

I don't know how to be kind of rude and bold. Is that what it really means? Is that the scope of serving God in your work? Well, believe it or not, the Bible actually has a lot to say about our work. In fact, in Genesis 2, at the very first mention of work in the Bible, the Hebrew word that God used for work is the word Abad, which shares the same root word as worship. So in other words, Adam was to worship God in the garden, not just by reading his Bible and praying and staying away from a few bad apples.

He was to worship God by doing the things in the garden that God had put him there to do. Surely it is not coincidental that of all the parables that Jesus told, the majority of them take place in the workplace. And of the miracles that the apostles do in the book of Acts, 39 out of 40 of them take place outside of the church. What these things are showing you is that the God of the Bible is as concerned with displaying his power outside of the church as he is displaying it inside the church. Abraham Kuyper said, there is not one square inch of the entire cosmos over which Jesus has not emphatically declared mine.

And that would surely include the places where you spend the majority of your time each week. So I want to suggest to you five ways that you can worship God while you work. Now, it's a little unusual because I'm not going to have one central text the way that I usually do and just work off of that.

I think I can limit it down to two texts. Genesis chapter two is where I'm going to be first and then Colossians three. And then I'm going to sprinkle in other verses liberally along the way.

Okay. Number one, worshipful work fulfills God's purposes in creation. Work that is worship fulfills God's purposes in creation. In Genesis 2 15, God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden with the assignment to work the ground and to keep it. This was before the curse, so this work was not a punishment that God gave to man after he'd sinned. It wasn't like the original plan for man was that he would sit around in the garden, eat bonbons and have, you know, angels massage his feet. And then after he sinned, then he, you know, it's like, God's like, now you've got to get a job.

No, this is part of the original creation. The word that God used for work literally means in Hebrew to prepare or to develop. You see, God made Adam a gardener. A gardener is not a park ranger who just guards the garden.

A gardener is somebody who actually develops the garden. God put Adam in the garden to develop. He was to take the raw materials of the earth, the dirt, the, you know, the plants, the seeds, and he was to develop them for the glory of God and for the benefit of the other humans that God would create. You see, God made man in his image. And the first thing we find about God in Genesis one and two is that God is a creator. Twelve times in Genesis one and two, it says God created this. So when God made man in his image, he made him to be a co-creator. In fact, do you remember the word that God used over and over again for his creation? God saw it and it was good.

That's right. Now good is good, but good is not perfect. Perfect means cannot be improved upon. Good means it's good, but it's not the, you know, the work is not, the work is not totally finished. The way I've described that before is when you guys see my wife on the weekend here at church, she is perfect.

Right? Cannot be improved upon. She's beautiful, her hair, her dress, her makeup, perfect.

Cannot be improved upon. When she wakes up in the morning and gets out of bed, she's good. Right? Is that okay? Can I say that? Okay. So she's good, but you take the raw materials and you develop them a little bit, and then you get the perfect, you get the perfect product.

Right? We are not park rangers that were given a perfect creation that we were merely steward. We were gardeners that were to develop that for the glory of God and the benefit of humans. Or I've heard it compared to the difference between a stock broker and a security guard. If I give a security guard $10,000 and I come back in 20 years, I should expect to get back from him $10,000, not a penny more, not a penny less.

If I give it to a stock broker, then I expect in 20 years when I come back for that $10,000 to be much more. God put Adam and Eve in the garden to be stock brokers, to be developers. That means that contractors take the raw materials of sand and cement and use them to create buildings. Artists take the raw materials of color or music and arrange them into art. Lawyers take principles of justice and they codify them into laws that benefit society. These are ways that man and woman are gardeners of the creation God gave.

And this is key. As we do this in a way, God is himself at work creating through us. The reformer Martin Luther took the verse, Psalm 147, 13, which says this. It's a verse written to Jerusalem. For God strengthens the bars of your gates. He blesses your children within you. He makes peace in your borders.

He fills you with the finest of wheat. And Martin Luther asked, how exactly does God do that? He said, well, how does he strengthen the bars of the city? He does that by city planners and by architects. He does it by politicians who pass good laws to protect the city.

How does he bless our children within our midst? Well, he does that by teachers and pediatricians. How does he make peace in our borders? He does that by means of good lawyers and policemen. How does he fill us with the finest of wheat? He does that by farmers and factory workers and restaurant owners.

Our professions, Martin Luther said, are like the masks that God wears in caring for the world. He said this, when we pray the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to give us this day our daily bread. You know the Lord's Prayer. Every day he said, give us this day our daily bread. And God does give us our daily bread. But he does so by means of the farmer who planted and harvested the grain, the baker who made the flour into bread, and the person who prepared our meal. All these are in play when God answers that prayer for daily bread. You see, there are some of you who, in your work, feel this almost divine satisfaction. Maybe you're not even a Christian, and you're not even sure what to call it. But you just know that there is something when you are working where you feel like you're doing what you're born to do. The word vocation comes from the Latin word voca, which means to call, right, like vocal.

So your vocation, the reason they chose that word for it is because it's like a calling that God put into you, whether you're a Christian or not, because it's the mask he wears to do what he wants to do in the world. In fact, there are two Old Testament figures in Exodus 31 that are very important but hardly anybody knows about. Their names are Bezalel and Aholiab.

You ever heard those names before? Bezalel and Aholiab are two guys in Exodus 31. They are two of the only people in the Old Testament who are referred to as men filled with the Spirit of God.

Now, here's what's interesting. How did they express their being filled with the Spirit? Well, it says they were filled with the Spirit of God and they spoke in tongues and they preached great sermons, they wrote great music.

No. They were filled with the Spirit of God and they were expert craftsmen. Their expression of being filled with the Spirit was the quality with which they did their work. It reminds me of that scene in Chariots of Fire about the Scottish Olympian, Eric Little, who was called, a very committed Christian, planning to be a missionary to China, but was also very fast and so he was recruited for the Scottish Olympic team. And so his sister, several members of his family were already in China, his sister comes to him and says, Eric, I do not understand, if you were called to go to China to be a missionary, with that being so important, why are you wasting time, you know, in things like the Olympics and running?

And there's that, if you've seen the movie, you remember this scene, where Eric Little looks back at her and says, yes, yes, I understand that God has called me to be a missionary to China, but God also made me fast and he made me fast for a purpose and when I run, he said, I feel God's pleasure. There are some of you in business that resonate with that feeling. You're like, I'm not really sure how to describe it, but there's a certain divine pleasure I feel when I'm doing the work that I do.

This is what I was made for. It's like I feel even the Spirit of God at work in me in this. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. We'll get right back to today's teaching in just a moment, but first let me tell you about our latest set of resources. Did you know that Jesus quoted from 24 Old Testament books roughly 180 times? It's clear that he thought of the scriptures as the ultimate authority in life and a way to understand the heart and the desires of God.

Why would we not follow Jesus by knowing and trusting scripture the way that he did? So we created a pack of 52 scripture memory cards just for you. These are perfect to use for memorization or to have around for daily encouragement. The cards are a small two and a half by three and a half inch size for quick reference, and we'll send them to you as our thanks for your generous support of this ministry today. Give us a call at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Now, one word of clarification. One of the curses of the fall was that our work became toilsome.

God cursed the ground and said that thorns and thistles would frustrate our efforts. So work at that point for many people became a compulsory act of survival. So for many of you, your work is partially fulfilling, but it is also toilsome and draining. In fact, I'd say that is true for all of us. For others of you, you hate your job entirely, right? And you're just like, I just do it to survive. Man, if I could quit tomorrow, I would love to walk in my office and say, I quit and just leave. I'm not feeling any kind of divine satisfaction.

I don't know what you're talking about, all right? Those effects are part of the sad result of the curse. And you may have to work for a while in that kind of condition. In fact, maybe your whole life. One guy I was reading said, he said, our generation, meaning the generation that is graduating from college right now, our generation insists that work be fulfilling and fruitful, that it fully fit our talents and our dreams and that we be paid exorbitantly for it, right? And so you got college graduates who are like, I really just love the colors that are in the Mona Lisa.

And so I'm an art history major and I expect to be paid $300,000 a year because I know the difference in the two kinds of black that are in the color of the Mona. You're like, that's maybe not going to happen, OK? The guy says this, that sounds great. It sounds great, but that's not the world we live in any longer.

It's the world Adam and Eve used to live in. So what do you do if you're in that kind of job? Well, you can still do it faithfully as an act of service to other people.

It's still helping somebody and there can be a certain pleasure in that. And you'll have to wait until heaven to be fully fulfilled in your work. And you might consider that there could be a distinction between your job and the pursuit of the calling that God has placed in you. For example, the apostle Paul's calling was to be an apostle to the Gentiles. He was also a tent maker. So making tents was part of Paul's calling, but it was not the heart of God's calling. There are some people who do other things to free them to do what they think of as the main thing in their life.

But what I wanted you to see from this kind of first major point is simply this. Calling is not something that just applies to those of us who were in ministry. Calling is something, vocation is what God put into you.

And He didn't all make you like me, thank God. He made you good at what He did because you are the mask that He wears to serve the world and to create through you. Number two, worshipful work pursues the highest standards of excellence. Worshipful work pursues the highest standards of excellence. If we do our work unto God, then that means we do it excellently, listen to this, for God.

Regardless of the reward we get from it, regardless from the recognition. Paul says this, Colossians 3, 23, whatever you do, whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. Because you, he says, first and foremost, you're serving the Lord Christ. You have a higher boss, he says, than your employer. You work for a greater reward than recognition or salary. And everything you do, it's an offering unto Him. And everything you do is to put on display the worthiness that He deserves.

So see, somebody says to me, well, my boss is terrible. She or he never rewards me properly. I don't ever get the proper recognition.

I don't ever get the bonus. It's like I'm working and they end up taking the credit for what I do. Listen, I know that's hard. I know that leads to a lack of a loss of motivation.

But here's what you've got to understand. You're not really doing it for him or for her. You're doing it first for God. Interestingly, the people to whom Paul is writing this, many of them are in the worst possible job situation. Did you see that up there in the verses? It said slaves obey your masters. That's a bad job situation, right? I mean, some of you are like, man, my boss totally owns me. For them, it was literal.

Their boss actually owned them, right? Even there, however, Paul says in those terrible, not rewarding circumstances, they're to do their work unto God as a statement of His worthiness. Paul said this is one of the things that's supposed to separate Christians and set them apart is that they do their work for the glory of God. So that whether they eat or drink or mop floors or write contracts, they're doing it to show how beautiful and how worthy God is of their very best offerings. That means for the Christian in everything they do, they say, this is a statement about your worthiness and your glory. Number three, worshipful work reflects the highest standards of ethics. Worshipful work reflects the highest standards of ethics. A British politician named Sir Arthur Conan Doyle worked in the British government for years, once played a practical joke on 12 other prominent politicians and business people in Great Britain. He sent them just a telegram, anonymous, but obviously from inside the government that said flee the country at once, all has been discovered.

He checked back in six hours and all 12 were making plans to leave the country. So the idea of a lack of integrity in the workplace, that's nothing new. But work that worships God will conform to the highest standards of ethics because that work seeks to demonstrate and to reflect the justice and the integrity of the God that we work for. Business ethics really matter to the believer because our work is done first and foremost unto God and our ethical practices reflect on God. So God says this in Proverbs 11.1, listen to this, a false balance is an abomination to the Lord.

But a just weight is his delight. False balance, you know what that means, is when they're weighing out something and so they put a little extra, something that looks like it's one weight but it's actually hollow or it's extra weight so you would get a false balance. False balance for us means fudging a mileage report. It means padding a business expense. It means overcharging. It means skimping on a time card, calling in sick when you are not.

It means commandeering office supplies for personal use, unreported income and so on. Those things God says are an abomination to him. Abomination, that's a varsity word. It's only used a handful of times in the Old Testament and you would not like the other things that God calls an abomination. And God says these kind of things, these are an abomination to me. To worship God in your work means having standards higher than even the world does.

It means going beyond the world's standards. I cannot tell you how many Christians I have heard say, and I hate to say this and some of you who are not Christians, you're like, this is exactly what I was hoping to get at church. Okay, you're going to hear it from me. I don't like to do business with other Christians.

In fact, listen to this. I saw in an interview in a Christian publication with the CEO of one of the largest consulting groups for Microsoft software. He's an industry veteran and he's a solid believer. And in the interview, he said he no longer likes to do work with professing Christian companies, the kind that put the fish on their business card or that kind of thing. He said because, the interviewer said, well, why? He said because once the other business finds out that I'm also a Christian, they take what he calls extensions of grace.

And that takes the form of not paying on time, not delivering work when promised, asking for fee or labor reductions when there's no reason for them. I've heard it referred to as the ministry discount. Like, oh, you love Jesus, I love Jesus, then I'll just kind of be slacking my work towards you.

And he says, we don't do it that way. I don't know how many waitresses I've heard say, I don't like to wait, I'm Christian. If they find out I'm a Christian, then they're kind of like, oh, we don't really have to tell because you're one of us. And it's like she's letting them out of the tax that they got to pay.

And you're like, that goes to her. Don't do that, especially if you put down a summit church card. Do not, I swear, we will come to your house if we find you do that, okay? If you put down anything with a summit church's name on it, it's got to be at least 20%, all right?

I'm serious. If you're going to put down less than that, then like say you're from the atheist club or something like that, and then you can give a skimpy tip. But whatever you're doing, see, it ought to be higher than what the world does.

It ought to not go less, it ought to go more. Psalm 15 one, I'm going to give you this from the message translation. I hate the message.

That's why I never quote from it. And I hate it because of the first verse here, because it's so cheesy. Every time, I'm going to ask for forgiveness in my heart as soon as I get done reading this. But the second verse of this I thought was really clear. God who gets invited to dinner at your place, how do we get on your guest list?

Seriously, I want to vomit. Verse two, God says, listen, this is the good part. Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don't hurt your friend, don't blame your neighbor for things that you did. Keep your word even when it costs you.

Make an honest living and never take a bribe. You want to know how to have fellowship with God on a day-by-day basis? Through the gospel, yes, but you also walk according to these things. Number four, worshipful work makes blessing others its bottom line. Worshipful work makes blessing others its bottom line. To follow Jesus means that you think about your life the way that Jesus thought about his. And the thing that characterized Jesus' life was leveraging his position of strength and power not to build his own kingdom, but to serve others. So Paul would say, 2 Corinthians 8, 9, a verse I quote to you all the time. Paul says, remember the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, though he had a position of power, though he was influential, though massive promotions were in his future, right? Though he was rich for your sake, he became poor so that you through his poverty would become rich. And Paul, the implication is that's how you ought to think about your life. God has made you rich in various places.

You might be rich in money, you might be rich in talent, you might be rich in position. He says take those things and leverage them to bless others and serve others the way that Jesus leveraged his to serve you. Worshiping at work looks like performing with excellence, reflecting high standards of ethics, and blessing others as the most important part of business. You're listening to Summit Life and a challenging message from J.D.

Greer. I'd like to tell you a bit more about our new resource that we are offering this month. It's a handy set of 52 scripture memory cards. If you want to carry God's promises in your heart, these new Summit Life memory verse cards make it easy and convenient to memorize scripture.

Pin them to a bulletin board or mirror for extra encouragement to hide them in your heart. It's a whole new set of verses for 2023 that we are committing to our hearts and minds. You're welcome to request this new set of cards as a token of our thanks when you donate today to support this ministry.

It takes friends like you partnering with us to make Summit Life possible. Will you join that mission today? The suggested donation is $35 or more. And when you get in touch, remember to ask for your set of the scripture memory cards.

Call 866-335-5220 or you can give online at jdgreer.com. By the way, if you haven't checked out Pastor J.D. 's newest podcast called Ask Me Anything, you'll want to do that today. Pastor J.D. gives quick, honest answers to tricky questions, and you can find it online at jdgreer.com or through your favorite podcasting app. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to kick off your next workweek with the conclusion to this message titled Work as Worship.

Good timing, huh? We'll see you next week on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-20 10:27:18 / 2023-01-20 10:38:20 / 11

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