This one little word can change your entire perspective on work. If you understood it, it could potentially change everything you do. It might be the difference between being frustrated and feeling meaningless to feeling fulfilled and purposeful.
Matthew 25:14–30 (NIV) 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Eccles. 12:14 “God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil”
Colossians 3:23–24 (NIV) 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Romans 2:6 (NIV) 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
The created order, which God has begun to redeem in the resurrection of Jesus, is a world in which heaven and earth are designed not be separated but to come together. In that coming together, the “very good” that God spoke over creation at the beginning will be enhanced, not abolished. N. T. Wright
A robust theology of work both now and in the future brings fresh perspective to our lives. Our vocational callings become rich with meaning. Our attitude toward work is transformed. A new creativity and diligence emerges. A sense of anticipation of a glorious future in the new heavens and new earth fills our souls. Tim Keller breathes some very hopeful wind into our sails when he writes, “At the end of history the whole earth has become the Garden of God again. Death and decay and suffering are gone. . . . Jesus will make the world our perfect home again. We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’ always wandering and never arriving. We will come, and the father will meet us and embrace us, and we will be brought into the feast.”
– Tom Nelson
The gospel of salvation through sheer grace holds [an] implication for work. While ancient monks may have sought salvation through religious works, many modern people seek a kind of salvation—self-esteem and self-worth—from career success. This leads us to seek only high-paying, high-status jobs, and to “worship” them in perverse ways. But the gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity through work, for we are already proven and secure. It also frees us from a condescending attitude toward less sophisticated labor and from envy over more exalted work. All work now becomes a way to love the God who saved us freely; and by extension, a way to love our neighbor. So Luther could write about believers: “Even their seemingly secular works are a worship of God and an obedience well pleasing to God.” Tim Keller
Discussion Questions: (Tom Nelson)
Do you see your daily work with an eternal vantage point in mind?
How does a glimpse of the future, of living and working in the new heaven and new earth, motivate you to develop greater skills and competencies in and through your work?
How does gaining a greater understanding of the future reframe your perspective of your fellow workers and the work they do?