I heard the story of a carpenter who spent his whole career working for one builder. When it came time to retire, he spoke to his boss. The builder begged him to stay on for one more job. Reluctantly he accepted even though he didn’t want to. During the whole job, his heart wasn’t in it. He cut corners and did some shoddy work. When the house was finished, he called the boss to come do a final walk through. After walking through the house, the builder turned to the carpenter and handed him the keys. He told him that he had been a good worker all those years and wanted to gift him a house. The carpenter was very thankful, but all he could think about was how he was going to have to live in a house where he cut the corners and did shoddy work.
In Genesis 4, we read the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve. Both were raised in relationship with God and knew Him. Cain became a farmer and Abel a shepherd. The Bible doesn’t tell us if they gave offerings to God often or if the offering in this chapter was the first one. Both decided to give God an offering from their work. Verses 3-4 say, “When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock” (NLT). Cain gave from his harvest, but not really his best. That’s why God rejected his offering. It was a half hearted gift while Abel brought his best.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever you do, do well.” I believe excellence is a choice. Every day we’re faced with the opportunity to give God our best or something less than that. Our offerings to God are more than our money. Paul said in Philippians 2:17 that our faithful service is an offering to God. Everything we do for God should be done from our best efforts. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t be our leftovers. Look at your life and the service you’ve been offering God. Is there room for improvement? Find ways to give God excellence in your life. When you give Him your best, He honors you and blesses your life.
One of my favorite lines from Marin Luther’s “I Have A Dream” speech always challenges me. He said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'” Each time I hear that or read it, it pushed me to make sure that I’m doing things to the best of my ability or not. A bad boss or a job I don’t like shouldn’t keep me from doing my job well. Whatever God has given me to do at that time is what He needs me to do my best at.
Paul wrote something similar in Romans 12:6. It says, “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well” (NLT). We each have different gifts and different responsibilities given to us by God. Paul goes on to say that if you have the gift of prophesy, then do it with as much faith as God has given you. If you are called to serve others, then do it well. If you are to encourage others, be encouraging. He lists multiple in this passage and after each one, he encourages us to use it to the best of our ability and to use it in love. We don’t need to compare ourselves to each other because we’ve been given unique gifts to fit our life and the people we’ve been called to serve.
He starts to conclude his thoughts on this in verse 11 by saying, “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Whether you like your gifts or where God has placed you right now, you should be working hard and enthusiastically as unto the Lord. When we do our jobs or activities for a person, we can let our attitude towards them affect our performance. When we do it unto the Lord with our whole heart, then excellence becomes a natural byproduct. We must remember that our work ethic represents Him as well. What we do and how well we do it is a reflection of Him because we bear His name. So whatever you’re called to do right now, do it as Michelangelo painted, Beethoven played and Shakespeare wrote. Do it with all your might and enthusiastically unto the Lord.
Do you know any workaholics? You know, people who constantly work. Their hours are 9-5, but they stay up late working constantly. It’s a badge of honor to them to be the first person to the office each day, and the last one to leave. Many of them live very stressful lives. They worry that they won’t complete their job on time. They stress about income. They’re so busy making a living that they forget to make a life. Many end up sacrificing family for work.
Psalm 127:2 says, “It is useless to work so hard for a living, getting up early and going to bed late. For the Lord provides for those he loves, while they are asleep” (GNT). In our fast paced world, where technology has allowed us to work 24/7 from anywhere on the globe, becoming a workaholic is easier than ever. But God says that being a workaholic is useless. In fact, it becomes a question of the heart.
The biggest question is: do you trust God to be your provider? So many times when we make a habit out of working non-stop, we do it because we forget who our source is. Because we go to work and work rewards us with a paycheck, we begin to think we are our own source or our job is. If we believe God is our source, it relieves the pressure of having to become a workaholic so we can provide for ourselves.
I believe in hard work, and I believe that if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat. But I also believe that God is my provider. If I trust Him with my finances, and I give Him His part of my income as recognition of being my provider, then I don’t have to stress about where the next job comes from and I don’t have to stress and work constantly. I’ve learned that God is not a well that can run dry. He is a never ending river who supplies all of my needs according to His riches (Phil 4:19). Become a member of workaholics anonymous and trust God to be your provider.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand busy work. I hate being given a task just for the sake of having something to do. I see it as a waste of time rather than a time filler. Nothing truly productive comes from it. I’d rather save my energy, brain power and time doing nothing rather than doing meaningless tasks. Whether it’s at work, home or wherever, we’ve all been given busy work since we were kids.
Sometimes doing things for God feels like busy work. I can’t see the purpose behind doing what He’s asked, so it feels like busy work. Whether it’s busy work or not, I obey because it’s God who is asking. Many times it’s simply to go somewhere, pick someone up, say something to someone, serve at an event or something like it. When I don’t get to see the impact or reason, it can feel like busy work to me.
I was discussing this with one of my pastor friends recently. Then I recalled a couple of events that really I could barely remember doing, but the people I helped acted as if I had saved their life. The “busy work” on my part had a significant meaning to the person God was directing it toward. It was a great reminder that often what we do for God may feel like busy work at times to us, but to others, it’s life changing stuff.
Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:58, “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (GNT). If you’re feeling like God has given you a lot of busy work lately, take heart. Nothing you do for Him is useless. It’s not a waste of your time, talents or resources. Often you’re changing lives without even knowing it. God doesn’t give out busy work to keep us occupied. He gives us work that we’re to stay busy at because eternity is at stake.
How do you respond to road blocks and set backs? Do you believe the non-scriptural platitudes that say, “God doesn’t close a door without opening a window”? Do you give up and just sit there? Maybe you look for another route and roll with the punches. Each of us respond in different ways when we’ve done the ground work for things in our lives only to have it stopped suddenly. I believe how we respond matters.
In Genesis 26, Abraham had already died and his son Isaac was a full grown man. Isaac planted crops and God blessed them. Whatever he did, God put His hand on it and made him successful. With that success came jealousy from others who were not as blessed. The Philistines went around and filled his wells with dirt, and their king made him uproot his family and move because of their jealousy.
When Isaac moved away to other places he had taken his flocks before, he realized what they had done. Isaac and his father had dug many wells throughout the land to give water to their family and flocks. Now, all those years of work had been undone. He could looked for other wells that didn’t belong to him, but that wasn’t right. Genesis 26:18 says, “He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them” (NLT).
When what you’ve worked for gets destroyed by someone else, don’t just walk away or give up, put the work back into it and re-dig your wells. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take determination. It’s going to take your desire to be successful and blessed to be stronger than your desire to give up. Isaac didn’t quit or look for God to open a new well. He grabbed a shovel, started digging, and restored what the enemy had closed. That’s the response we should give to set backs and roadblocks in our lives.
Since Labor Day is coming up, I thought it would be good to explore what the Bible says about work. I believe work means something different to each one of us. I want you to think of what you do or consider as your work as you read each of these verses. Think of them in a personal light and let God speak directly to you through them.
1. I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do.
John 17:4 AMP
2. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Ephesians 6:7 NLT
3. The diligent find freedom in their work; the lazy are oppressed by work.
Proverbs 12:24 MSG
4. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Colossians 3:23 NLT
5. Do all your work in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14 GNB
6. Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10 NLT
7. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work — neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country.
Exodus 20:9-10 GNB
8. Put GOD in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.
Proverbs 16:3 MSG
9. Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism.
Proverbs 18:9 MSG
10. So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.
This weekend was an exercise of faith for me. We were trying to raise money for a trip to build an orphanage in Haiti. We pre-sold BBQ tickets and Saturday was the day for them to pick it up. When I went to buy the meat, I decided to buy almost double what we had sold. I was believing that we could sell extra to people driving by. At the end of the day, I still had about 4 briskets left. The plan was to then sell plates after church on Sunday.
As I was prepping everything during church, my wife walked in and saw all of the meat. She immediately said, “I hope God honors your faith.” I told her that when it came to faith, I didn’t want God to call me “Ye”. We read all over the four Gospels, in the old King James, where Jesus would say, “Oh Ye of little faith.” Jesus was almost upset by the lack of faith especially when it came to His disciples.
I want to have the kind of faith that when I believe and ask God for something, He says, “Uh oh. I gotta go to work now. Chris is believing again.” I believe that if God gets upset with a lack of faith, He must get motivated by a lot of it. The thing that always makes my mind go haywire is that when I think I have a lot of faith, God looks at it and it’s not even the size of a mustard seed.
It makes me wonder, “How much faith is truly possible?” I must be limiting my own faith somehow. I can’t tell you the last time that I told a mountain to move and it did. Unless of course you consider 40 pounds of beef a mountain. Because that moved faster than I could anticipate. I was in position to block the exit doors of the church to redirect them to buy plates when I realized that people were automatically walking over there. I mentioned it to a few people as they left and when I looked back over, the mountain of plates was nearly gone.
As people walked up to the counter and the plates were gone, we apologized for having sold out. Many people that didn’t get a plate still offered money to help our team go. When all was said and done, we sold nearly 200 pounds of beef. God didn’t have to call me “Ye”. Instead, He acted on my faith and moved. He acted on our group’s ability to show up and work to be there when God moved.
That’s one of the great things about faith. Not only are we to believe, but we are required to do things with it. Peter had to get out if the boat. Martha and Mary had to roll the stone out of the way for Lazarus. Gideon had to step onto the battlefield with 300 men. Abraham had to climb the mountain without a ram. And you and I have to do the same. James says that faith without works is dead. Are you acting on your faith or just sitting their “believing” or hoping God moves? Trust that He will and work like He’s going to answer.