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Offering Work as Worship to Christ (Colossians Sermon 18 of 21)

Offering Work as Worship to Christ (Colossians Sermon 18 of 21)

February 03, 2008 | Andy Davis
Colossians 3:22-4:1
Holiness, Heaven, Good Works

The Importance of Work in the Life of Humans

Chuck Colson began his book, "Why America doesn't work", began with what he called a true parable about the significance of work. It's a true story, but it showed just how important work is in the life of a human being. The story, the true story set in World War II at a Nazi concentration camp in Hungary and these prisoners, the ones that were physically able, were compelled to work for the Nazis. There was a camp factory that distilled hundreds of tons of human waste and garbage and made alcohol as a fuel additive for Nazi vehicles. It was disgusting work, you can hardly imagine the stench, it would cause people to wretch on a daily basis, but far worse for these enslaved workers was that just the idea that their work was being used to fuel the Nazi war machine that they hated viscerally. But yet they were compelled to do this work day after day. Well, one night, in 1944, an Allied air strike took out the factory, bombed it to rubble. Well, you can imagine if you're one of those laborers, how secretly happy you were about the destruction of that factory. That is until the sadistic guards gathered the laborers together and they were brought to the compound and compelled to move a pile of rubble from one side of the compound to the other. They spent the whole day in this back breaking labor and their hearts sank as they realized, so they thought, that the Nazis were going to make them rebuild the factory. But the next day, the guards made them move that same pile of rubble back to the original starting place. And on the third day, they moved it back to where it'd been the day before. And this went on back and forth, back and forth, this pile of rubble, for seemingly nothing. Wasn't long before some of the prisoners began to fall out. They wouldn't work, they'd be kicked, they'd be beaten, they'd be put in solitary confinement, they'd be tortured, but they wouldn't work. Some of them even chose suicide by running at the electrified barbed wire that surrounded the camp compound. They would rather do that than continue to do mindless, meaningless labor. And that's really odd, isn't it? That they would rather do something productive for the evil Nazi war machine, than do something that clearly was meaningless.

And the point that Colson drew from this parable is that we must have meaningful labor to do. It's essential to who we are as human beings, we were made to work. And if we don't work at something that we think is worthwhile, we'll go stark raving mad. Now that's a bit negative. That's the way Colson chose to begin his book. Let's turn it around and make it positive. Isn't it one of the greatest graces of the Gospel, that the Lord Jesus Christ has given us eternally meaningful work to do? That your labor, the labor of your hands, the labor of your minds, of your mouth can actually count for eternity. You can build something that will last for all eternity. Isn't that one of the greatest graces that Jesus Christ has ever given us? I think it is. Now the context of our passage today may on the surface, it seems, say nothing to us at all in 21st century America. You may read it and say, "Masters and slaves. Well, what does that have to do with us?" Ever since the 13th Amendment of the Constitution was passed in 1865, abolishing slavery in the United States, you may think that that passage ceased having any relevance whatsoever to our lives. Well, that is not the case.

The center of the command has to do with how you work. With what demeanor, what heart attitude do you do your work? And how do you treat those that are entrusted to your care, who are working for you? That's the center of the passage. Now, the structure of the master-slave relationship is so rich and so poignant and in some cases so painful a topic, that I think it deserves a whole separate treatment, which God willing, I'll give next week. The question of why is it the New Testament doesn't clearly overturn slavery? I want to talk about it next week, it's a poignant question. So, if I could just ask you to set those questions aside and this morning, let's just zero in on the question of work, "How are we to work?" And I think what I want us to do, is to just try to understand work historically, but even better than that, Biblically.

Understanding Work Biblically

Greek’s Faulty View: Work is Punishment

Now, the Greeks, the Ancient Greeks, had a faulty view of work, they thought that the gods were punishing them. Here the gods just lounged around on divine couches, eating ambrosia and drinking nectar all day long while we are consigned to work down here below. And that's the way that they thought. As a matter of fact, Plato and Aristotle thought, even within the work, there was the aristocratic kind of work that was done by educated people and then there was the common labor as well. And so, the common laborer fueled the society that enabled higher people like them to do intellectual labor, that kind of thing. Plato and Aristotle. Well, even within church history, there have been faulty views of work. This kind of two tiered view came in and gripped the church for many centuries. In medieval Catholicism, there is this idea of a separation of sacred and profane work. Profane not being immoral, but secular. Common, not directly having to do with the Gospel of Christ. And so, the sacred laborers were the pope, and the cardinals, and the bishops, and archbishops, and the priests, and the nuns, and the monks. They were of a higher order of piety than those that were farmers, or tradesmen, or even magistrates who do work in secular labor. And Eusebius said, "To them is issued a kind of lower grade piety." So, you could find yourself on the hierarchy of holiness, if you weren't a priest or something like that, you were low and your work was of little value. Well, the Reformation changed all that.

Martin Luther among others, saw in the scriptures what he called the priesthood of all believers. And the idea is that all believers can offer up by their labors, by what they do in their everyday lives, priestly sacrifices to God. It's taught in 1 Peter 2 and Ephesians 2. He saw it there and he brought it forth and he applied it in this way. He said, "When a maid cooks and cleans and does other house work, because God's command is there, even such a small work must be praised as a service of God, far surpassing the holiness and the asceticism of all monks and nuns." Well, that was revolutionary talk. The idea that a maid's labor in the kitchen could be of equal holiness and value to a pope. He said it actually is better, because he saw them as false teachers and so, just the labor of a maid or a servant in a house could be holy, that was revolutionary. And again Luther said, seemingly secular works are a worship of God and an obedience well pleasing to God. There is no such thing as secular labor therefore. The question is do you as a Christian offer up to God, to Christ, your work as a fragrant offering? That's the real issue. The full fruition of this Protestant insight came in what later came to be known as the Puritan work ethic. Many people have that phrase in their minds, but they don't know what they're talking about. At the core of it was, the Puritans thought that their labors could be offered up to God as worship. And therefore they sought to glorify God in everything they did, no matter how little or how great. William Tyndale said, "If we look externally, there is a difference betwixt washing of dishes and preaching the word of God, but as touching to please God none at all." So, it's equal to wash dishes and preach the word? Well, what Luther said is if the command of God is there, yes. You can never do better than what God's commanding you to do at that present moment, do you see?

And so, I believe that God has commanded me to preach this sermon, therefore I can't do any better than this. And God has commanded you to listen. And you can't do any better than to listen to the glory of God. But this is the way it is, you can go home and whatever it is you find to do, if the command of God is there and the Spirit of God is there, you can glorify God with it at any time. That's revolutionary. But there's a detail and a concept here. Yes, lower levels of everyday kind of life can be consecrated, but we should also have an overall sense of calling before God. And the general direction of our lives should maximally advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ, according to whatever gifting God gives you. Look at Romans 12 for a fuller treatment of that, but whatever you're called to be in the Body of Christ, be it maximally to the glory of God so that the kingdom of Christ gets advanced. And so, the Puritans had the concept of a calling, one's calling or vocation which is just the Latinized word of that, vocare. The calling of God. He's calling on you to do something. And so, William Perkins said this, "A vocation or a calling is a certain kind of life, ordained and imposed on man by God for the common good. Every person of every degree, state, sex, or condition without exception must have some personal and particular calling to walk in." We as people of God, as Christians, need to recover that sense of calling. It's not, friends, just a career. And so, may I challenge those of you that are high school students, as you look ahead to what lies in your future, if you're college students, if you look ahead to what God may be calling you to do, have a sense of calling from God. Don't just choose a career. The real issue is what are you going to present to Christ on judgment day? How did you advance the kingdom of Christ? And so, that means, both the little, the minutia, of everyday life, washing dishes, and the overall grand calling of your life, all of it can be done and should be done to the glory of God for the advancement of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

God a Worker, Not an Idler

Now the Bible supports these concepts. The Bible actually has much to say about a right doctrine of work. Let me trace it out very quickly. It begins with the first verse of the Bible, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." And so, in Genesis 1, we see God a worker, not an idler, He's doing creative work. He's calling something out of nothing. He is working. He's creating a universe filled with stars and planets. He creating a beautiful planet. He's separating the water from the dry land and He's causing plants to appear and beasts of the earth and birds of the air. He's doing all of this labor, the culmination on the sixth day, the creation of man. "And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it, He rested from all the creative work that He'd been doing." You see, God is an active, creative laborer. And doesn't God enjoy His work? Doesn't He delight in it? Doesn't He look over all that He's made and said, behold it's very good. There's a sense of deep satisfaction in the labor of God. That's the first indication we get of a Biblical view of work. And then Jesus told us in John 5:17, He's still working. As a matter of fact, He works all the time. My Father is always at His work to this very day. "And I too am working," said Jesus. Well, God then intended to give that good gift to the human race in Eden. He gave them creative work to do. In Genesis 1:28, it said that God blessed them, male and female, created in the image of God. “He blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’" There was a whole world to be explored. There were gardens to be planted and harvests to be brought forth. There were all kinds of creative things to be done and that was just given to us as the human race to do.

Work in Eden: The Gift Given

And so, my friends, work is no punishment from God. It is a good gift of God. And Adam, even when he was alone before Eve was created, he was put in the garden it says, “to work it and to take care of it.” There was a work there and he was to till the ground. And all the animals are brought for him to name and so you have physical labor and intellectual labor. Both of them there in the garden, from the very beginning. Work then, is a good gift from God. But after the fall work itself became cursed. God cursed Adam specifically in the area of his work, his labor. It's what it says in Genesis 3:17 and following, to Adam He said, "Cursed is the ground because of you. Through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return." What is He doing? He's cursing work there. He's cursing his labor. I think the greatest curse then on work is its emptiness. Its futility. The fact that you wrestle with the dust and the dust wins. The stuff you make turns back into dust and nothing comes of it. It says in Ecclesiastes 2, "What does man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days, his work, his pain and grief. Even at night his mind does not rest, this too is meaningless." So, that's the curse really, it's a sense of meaninglessness attached to our work. That our work will amount to nothing. That is the curse. Well, work was carried on after the fall, Noah made an ark to save his family. Labor continued on, in some ways blessed by God, in some ways an experience of the curse. We see the greatest example of that with the Israelite's experience in Egypt, after Joseph had died and the Egyptians forced them into bitter bondage and servitude. It says in Exodus 1:14, "They made their lives bitter with hard labor and brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly." So, there you have the bitterness of work in bondage in slavery done there in Exodus 1.

Christ’s Example Glorifying the Father by Labor

Well, after the exodus, God regulated work at the Mount Sinai and the Ten Commandments, and the fourth commandment, the Sabbath day commandment, He said this, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, on it you shall not do any work." Now let's read it fairly. Here work is both commanded, "Six days you shall labor." And it is also regulated, "The seventh day is holy to the Lord, on it you shall not do any work," and so, we have a balanced treatment then of what work is like in the Fall. Now in the New Testament, Jesus gives us a beautiful example of work, doesn't He? Jesus came as the Father's servant. I'm going to talk much about that next week. Very important in my understanding about slavery is Jesus' response to it. But Jesus came and He said, "My Father is always at His work to this very day and I too am working." And He said, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and finish His work." It was like eating for Him, it was like a delicious meal to do the will of His Father, to labor for His Father. And the greatest glory, I believe that God has ever gotten from a human being on earth, is the finished body of work that Jesus presented to Him finished at the cross. And He says in John 17:4, "Father, I brought you glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do." That is the greatest glory God the Father ever received from a human being on earth. The finished body of work that Jesus hands to Him. Perfection itself, and friends, this is the Gospel. In that perfection we stand. That perfect work of Jesus, He shed His blood on the cross. He died on the cross that we might have eternal life. And we are sinners. We heard it four times today. The testimony of we are sinners. We can be freed from our sin by stepping into that finished body of work that Jesus gave us, where He shed His blood on the cross. Come to Christ. If you've never trusted Him, maybe you were invited today. I think we had a newspaper ad today about this sermon. Maybe you came because of a newspaper ad. Maybe you came to hear a friend's baptismal testimony. Come to faith in Christ. Worry about how you're going to work by and by, step into Jesus' work now. And trust in Him for the salvation of your soul.

Paul’s Example and Commands

But Jesus showed us how to work. He showed us that we should be working as unto God. A finished body of work. Paul, the apostle, gave us a beautiful example as well. He was a hard worker. He labored day and night for the cause of the gospel. And he did secular labor. You remember, in Acts 18:3, we learned that he was a tentmaker. He worked with his hands sewing tents. And I believe that if you put it all together, he worked hard late at night to support himself and his traveling companion so that during the day and into the evening he could preach the Gospel. Now that's labor. He was a hard worker. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 says, "Surely you remember brothers, our toil and hardship. We worked night and day, in order not to be a burden to anyone, while we preached the Gospel of God to you." Paul therefore gave consistent commands concerning work in his epistles. Not just here in Colossians 3, which we'll get to in a moment. But in many places he talked about work. He gives us commands about work like this one. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 tells us that idleness is a sin and that you need to provide for your own needs and the needs of your family by your own labors. Don't rest on the church, or lean on others, or lean on the state. But he said this, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you brothers to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. If a man will not work, neither shall he eat." And so there's a labor there and a connection between eating. But Paul also taught the very thing that we're going to talk about in a moment, Colossians 3, that our work can be, should be, an offering of worship to Christ, that we should be giving up our lives. One final statement in the sweep of work, history of work, what about the New Heaven and the New Earth? Are we going to be like those Greek gods sitting on a divan couch, having angels bringing us grapes? Those poor angels, they're servants. It says right there, they're born to serve us, right? So they're going to be bringing us grapes up in the New Heaven and the New Earth. No, I don't believe so. I think just the curse of work will be removed. And we will have work to do, and we will delight in it like God delighted in Genesis 1. For it says in Revelation 22:3, "No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve Him." It says in another place, "We will reign with Christ." How can you reign and how can you serve without being a servant doing work? And so we'll talk about that more next time. But yes, you have work in your future. Yes, you have work eternally in your future, but it will not be cursed work, it will be a delightful blessing to you. That is the future. 

Paul’s Commands to Slaves: Serve Christ in Your Work

Basic Command: Obey Your Earthly Masters

Now, what does Paul command here in Colossians 3? Well, the basic command here is, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything." This is comprehensive obedience, similar to wives being told to submit to their husbands in everything, and children being told to obey their parents in everything. We know that this sense of everything isn't absolute above the allegiance we owe to Christ. They can't contradict the commands of God and we have to follow them instead of God; that they cannot do. But in everything else, we must obey; that's what he's teaching here. It does imply God-ordained authority, and submission to it is glorifying to God. Now, it says, "Submit to your earthly masters." The Greek word here is "According to the flesh", literally. Your "according to the flesh" masters. And I think the indication here is that these are your temporary masters. These are the ones who have control over your bodily actions, but they don't own your soul. So there's a limit to their authority. God alone rules over our souls. God alone is King over both soul and body. But these are our earthly masters. It also implies it's temporary. That boss you're thinking of right now won't be your boss forever. Okay? But Jesus will be our master for all eternity. Thus, submission to God-ordained authority is the regular pattern established for God's people. Away then with rebellion. Away with murmuring against your boss, talking about your boss behind his back. Away with all of these kinds of things. Gladly submit to the ordained authority, to the glory of God.

Working with Integrity

Now, he teaches us here we are to work with integrity. He says, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, and do it not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." He's going for the heart here, isn't he? He's going for what's going on in your heart when you serve this boss, this master. The question is one of integrity of heart. Now, what do I mean by integrity? Well, I think of the word, or the sense of integer, or one. You are one person all the time, no matter who's watching. That is a goal of the Christian life, isn't it? A simplicity of the Christian life. You're going to be the same person all the time. And the issue here in the Greek, the original word, is "eye pleasers." Don't be an eye pleaser. The ESV just brings it right across neatly. And don't be a people pleaser, somebody doing eye service or people pleasing. Eye service is an act, isn't it? It's an act. We are actors. The boss comes in, "Oh, yes, sir. Right away, sir." And as soon as they go out, make a face around the corner. And behind their back we say edgy things about them. You have to do it in a certain way that they don't know, people don't know that you're slandering your boss, but that's what's going on. And why? Because we don't want to submit to authority. We don't like that relationship. He's saying don't do that, be the same person all the time. Be the same person all the time. Years ago, I had computer software, a piece of computer software, a chess game, and you could play chess against the computer, but it had a hotkey that if you hit it, a spreadsheet would come up. Just like that, a fake spreadsheet would come up. It had no software connected to it, it was just a picture of a very busy spreadsheet. And when the boss is coming, you just hit this thing. It actually told you that in the guide. It's like you hit this thing and you're just working, you've got a bunch of papers, and then you hit the hotkey and the chess game comes back. Well, I've heard there's many such things like that. Software programmers are building this kind of stuff in. And it's getting worse. It gets worse around March Madness, when it's actually openly encouraged that you're going to have office interruptions. You can watch the game in a lower window, down in the lower left-hand corner of the screen while you're doing the rest of the work. What is going on? Integrity of heart. Working as unto the Lord, that's what he's calling on us to do here, sincerity. Because if you behave differently in one case than another, you're an actor. And, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." You've gotta be a fake person. And if you really, at heart, are in seething resentment against your boss, it's going to show at some point. Don't do that.

 Worshiping Christ Through Work

Instead, worship Christ through your work. The key to that kind of labor is Christ-focused. Look what it says here, verse 22 through 24, "With sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord"; verse 23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men," verse 24, "Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward." It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Okay, we get it. Four times in three verses. It's the Lord, it's the Lord, it's the Lord. Focus on Christ in all your work, and everything you do will float up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

Now, we've already seen this in Colossians in 3:17, where it says, "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." And you ought to do it with an eye toward Judgment Day. Look ahead to Judgment Day. Look at verse 24, "you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord." It is the Lord you're serving. You're going to get an inheritance. What is that? That is a piece of the New Heaven and New Earth given to you forever. Jesus talked about possessions of your own, it will be yours. Now, next week, I want to talk about how our rewards are based on how much we think like slaves here on Earth now. We'll talk about that next week. It's really a vital understanding. I thought it's hard enough listening to one full sermon on labor and put a sermon on slavery right on top of it. But I think this is the idea. Your reward system is based on how much you serve like Christ did, and you will get an inheritance. And God, it says in Hebrews 6:10, “is not unjust.” “He is not unjust.” He will not forget your labor and the work you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help Him. He will not forget. You may have an unjust master, you may have a tyrannical master who does not give you what is right and fair, but Christ is not like that. He will never forget even a cup of cold water given to serve Him.

Paul’s Commands to Masters: Deal Fairly with Slaves

Understand Your True Master: Christ

Now, there's also a warning, verse 25 "Anyone who does what is wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism." “There's no favoritism, oh slave. He's not going to give you an advantage because you are a slave. He wants to know "Did you obey Me in this? Did you follow Me in this word? Based on that, I will reward you." There's no favoritism. Now, fascinatingly, in Ephesians 6, the phrase "no favoritism" gets directed toward the master. And so in chapter 4, verse one, Paul now turns to the master, and he looks at the master and says "There's no favoritism there either." And someday you're going to have to give an account to Christ for how you treat those entrusted to your care. Look what it says, chapter four, verse one, "Master, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a master in Heaven." So understand your true master. It's easy for the master to lose perspective. You get corrupted by power. You forget that there's somebody above you and He's going to judge how you deal with your position of authority.

In 1853, Harriet Beecher Stowe published the second edition of her book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and it was a vivid description of the life of a slave and the American South prior to the Civil War, and in that second edition, in the deluxe edition, there were pictures done by artists of certain poignant scenes in her book. And in one of the scenes, the wicked master Simon Legree is beating Uncle Tom savagely, and he is behaving in a very Christ-like manner similar to Stephen, and his behavior is so effective in the lives of those standing around watching, even administering the beating, so the slave that was administering the beating, that they were converted to Christ as a result. But there's a picture, and the picture is of Simon Legree beating Uncle Tom and Jesus watching everything, watching everything. Now we don't need an artist's rendition of that, we have the Scripture, He's watching everything. He's watching everything. And so treat your slaves in a way that is right and fair, it says. Jesus watches everything. Someday you must give Him an account. 

Understand Your Responsibility: Fair Provision

Now, what is your responsibility as a master, it says? Well, fair provision. Fair provision, “provide your slaves with what is right and fair because you know that you also have a Master in Heaven.” In Ephesians 6:9, it says "Masters, treat your slaves in the same way." Well, in the same way as what? How about in the same way as you would want to be treated if it were reversed? How about that? Or even better, in the same way that Christ your master treats you as His slave? How about that? And how good is Christ as a master? Is He not a delightful master? More on that next week. But treat your slaves the same way as Christ is treating you as His slave. Now what is right and fair? I might get a little revolutionary here, but I think it has to do with wages. You say "Well it's not slavery if there's wages." Who told you that? Think about this, Matthew 10:10 says "The worker is worth his keep." Now I don't know necessarily keep has to be in cash money, but at least what is right and fair is a good living arrangement, food, clothing, and shelter, those kind of things that you have come to expect, at least that. His keep, a worker is worth his keep. But how about James 5:4, in which rich oppressors are called out by James for judgment? And he says "Look, the wages you fail to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” “He will repay if you don't pay those right wages.” James 5:4. Well, at least what is right and fair is sustenance, care for their bodies and for their lives, yes. So away with sweatshops where grossly underpaid Asian workers are doing labor now, and other people are marking up what they do and making great profit on it. Away with that, because it goes on today. What is right and fair? How would you want to be treated if the situation were reversed? And understand your future, someday you will give a full account to Christ. Ephesians 6:9 says "Masters, treat your slaves in the same way, do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in Heaven and there's no favoritism with Him."

Understand Your Future: A Full Account

Alright, what application can we take? We've had a history, a look at history and how different people have seen work. We've seen the Biblical correction that work is a delightful thing, creative and wonderful, but cursed after the Fall. And now Jesus has given us an example of how to work even under the curse, glorifying God. The Apostle Paul made it a command for us, how then shall we work? Well I think we ought to work as priests offering daily sacrifices to please the Lord. Consecrate yourself every day. Remind yourself "This work that I'm doing, no matter what it is, if it is honest labor, not immoral labor, honest labor, this work is my offering to Christ today." And if you can't do it with a clear conscience, then get out of that line of work, do something else. I'm not even talking about immoral things; it may be you feel you've missed your calling, then find it, find it. Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the hardest working composers that ever lived, 1685 was born. In 1985 at a radio station near where I was living at that time, they had the 300th anniversary of his birth, and they celebrated it with 300 consecutive hours of his music and never played a repeat. Wow. At the bottom of every page it said SDG in his own hand, "Soli Deo Gloria," "To the glory of God alone I write this music." He never forgot, he just thought about it all the time. This is for the glory of God. This is for the glory of God, so also you, when you do your labor to the glory of God.

Watch out for dangers connected with work. Don't waste your life working on things that don't matter. Ask the question, "Is my life calling advancing the kingdom of Christ as I feel it should? Is it lined up with my gifts? Am I advancing the cause of Christ with the work I spend all my life doing?" Do you want to present this to God on Judgment Day? This will be the majority of how you spend your waking hours. Is this what you're called to do? Ask that question. Because it says in 1 Corinthians 3, that “Judgment Day like a fire will test the quality of everyone's work, and if what you have built remains, you will receive a reward. But if it burns up like wood, hay and stubble, you'll lose it, though you yourself be saved as one escaping through the flames.” Don't let your work be burned up. Danger number two: Avoid careerism. Work as self-worship, 60 hours a week, 70 hours a week, the career, upwardly mobile, right? It's really a form of self-worship. It does not glorify Christ. Well why not? Because your family withers. Last week we talked about parental responsibilities to train and disciple your children. They're wondering where you are, wondering where you are. Can't do what you need to do because work is always getting in the way. Your church work suffers. You're not able to use your spiritual gifts. Church ministries, good church ministries go begging because people are too busy to do them because of careerism. Danger number three is laziness and earthly hedonism. More and more our culture is given over to entertainment and to pleasure. John Piper said this, he said, "I feel such a burden for us as a church to swim against the tide of almost every current in our culture. More and more America is a nation given over to play. The industries of play are huge. Houses are built today with entertainment centers, computers and videos and television and stereo all coordinate to give us ever more stimulating and captivating distractions from the realities of the world. When we need to be dreaming for the glory of Christ about how to spend our lives alleviating ignorance and sickness and misery and lostness, we're becoming more and more addicted to amusement." "And all you married couples and single people, in the prime of your life, beware of being swept into the all-consuming demands of your careers only to find yourself gasping for some fun and entertainment on the weekend, finding your relief from worldly work and worldly fun, and waking perhaps someday to realize you have no taste for the things of God. You have become a connoisseur of restaurants and videos and movies and sports and stocks and computers and 100 transient things, and all the while, your sense of Heaven and Hell has died. Wake up before it's too late. And tremble at these things today and set your mind to think about the biggest issues of life in the universe, eternal life or eternal death." Well I agree with him. Don't waste your life. Work for the glory of God.

Final comment, workplace evangelism. The number one way that we as Christians mesh with in a deeper level, the lives of unbelievers these days is the workplace. More than the neighborhood, more than any other place, it's the workplace, or for you students, it's school where you're learning. That's where you rub shoulders with unbelievers. Make it your place of ministry evangelistically. Jesus said, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Do you have a strategy for reaching your company for Christ? You may say "Oh, I'm not the only Christian there." Well then get together with the other Christians and come up together with a strategy for reaching your workplace for Christ. No one else in this church can reach that place. You are the missionary from this church to that work place. I did a sheet called "Top 10 Ministry Tips for Workplace Evangelism", they're out at the doors. I'm not going to go through it with you now. Take that green sheet and look it over, and make the workplace a place where you see people coming to faith in Christ. I would love to see more and more people baptized in this church. It's my greatest burden here, is to see people converted from lostness, baptized as disciples of Jesus Christ, and then taught to obey everything He's commanded. Oh, how I yearn to see that. Workplace is one of the key ways for us to do it. Close with me if you would in prayer.

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