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Colossians 3:16-25
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people (Colossians 3:23).

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Read Ephesians 6:5-8 to learn how we can do even menial jobs to the glory of God.

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How do you serve others and contribute to society? Why is it essential to remember that our work is a sacred calling?

The first thing you notice are the nets. They stretch tautly between buildings, hung to catch workers who might attempt to leap to their deaths. This is Foxconn, the behemoth factory in Shenzhen, China, where throngs of young Chinese manufacture iPads, iPhones, and computers for the world. As the nets attest, the job isn’t always fulfilling.

To be fair, the suicide rate at Foxconn is lower than in the rest of China, and waves of peasants continue to leave the countryside for a chance to earn money to send back home. But silently performing the same task thousands of times each day can sometimes drain the life from the happiest soul.

These jobs may be better than anything in their villages, but they still don’t begin to tease out the talents that each worker has to offer. The assembly line is efficient, which keeps the price of computers low, but it’s not the way humans made in the image of God were meant to work.

What if you were a Chinese Christian trapped in one of these dead-end jobs? Perhaps you would pray and work for your conditions to improve as you took Paul’s words to heart. He told slaves in Colosse that they should work hard, for “the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:24).

Why were they serving Christ? Paul declared that Jesus was the Creator (Colossians 1:15-17), which means that Jesus is the One who begins the Bible by commanding us to “fill the earth and govern it” and “tend and watch over” it (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). Theologians call these commands the “cultural mandate,” for they express God’s desire that we serve others by developing the raw materials of creation.

Our tasks may seem insignificant, but as we do them for Jesus, we will receive His reward.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 41:37-57

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8 Responses to “work”

  1. alli says:

    Sorry to me this is slave labor to feed the consumption of at ease americans among others. I know God says” in all labor” but the work is to provide people with freedom. Thats the justification for overworking Africans during the slave trade. We in America had no NEED for sugar cane, tobacco and other vices. If you want something do it yourself

  2. alli says:

    In addition i would hope a menial job would not drive one to suicide. Otherwise something else is wrong it has nothing to do with the job but a greater issue

  3. mrett says:

    Well said, Alli. I think the writer lost focus on who his audience is. He should have used a more domestic example, especially since I doubt seriously that any of these Chinese workers will be reading this post! Overseas sweat shops are about politics and greed, and our attention to their plight has to be more than a pat on the head and a “Don’t forget Jesus loves you!” platitude.
    James 1:26-27 (Msg) says: “Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

  4. rncinca says:

    My take on this meditation was a bit different-more in line with Brother Lawrence’s “Practice of the Presence of God”. Specifically the ability to achieve intimacy with God through the simplest of activities.

    Also Ephesians 6:7 “Render service with enthusiasm as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free”.

  5. tori says:

    Great word Mike,

    As hard as it may seem or as unfair as the conditions or circumstances are, we are to remember that God she’s and knows everything and he is faithful. Id we remain diligent in gruesome circumstances, not only will we, as vessels of the Holy Spirit be a testimony to others (especially our captors/boss’s, colleagues, etc) we are also showing our love for God, by obeying his command of working hard, should work hard, for “the Master you are serving is Christ”. No doubt that it will be hard, but we please God with our diligent service and we shelter our hearts of the bitterness and hatred that often results from such circumstances. Lord, help us to be diligent, no matter the circumstances, and help us to pray for those who are currently in such hard-pressed circumstances, that you will give them the strength and faith to persevere, and that you will give them joy through their obedience to you. Amen

  6. mike wittmer says:

    alli and mrett:

    I agree with you that there is another important message here–what is our responsibility to the workers who make our stuff. That is a complex question that is difficult to answer easily–as jobs that others are grateful to have might be jobs you and I would never want–but you are right that we must never take advantage of others.

    I believe ODJ is read in China, so this illustration may hit some people more directly than we know. Either way, the point was that even if you have a tedious or by many accounts unattractive job, you will still receive your reward if you do it for the Lord. I need to remember this whenever I am called on to do unpleasant tasks.

  7. winn collier says:

    grace in our work, holiness in our work, God’s activity in our work – all deeply good.

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