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As we continued our series “Can You Relate?”, Todd teaches us about the relationship we spend roughly twenty-five percent of our time with - work. How should you view your relationship with work? It is not a curse. In short, when you hear work, you should think worship. Does that describe you?
How We Relate To God
Hello, friends here with us in Dallas and spread around and watching online. We are in the middle of a series called Can You Relate? We're talking about how we should relate to the many different relationships we have in life. We have made our way through talking about our most important relationship with God and how you view him, how we relate to God's Word, how we relate to our life stages, whether single or married, and how we relate to children.
Today, we're going to talk about something that 25 percent of your life relates to. Not sleep. I know some of you guys would love me to talk about that. Here's how you relate to sleep: you do it well as an act of faith, and you know that the Lord gives to his beloved even in their sleep. There, we knocked that one off. That was easy. It's a sign of great faith when you go to bed. You know your God works for you. You don't need to be awake.
Today we're going to talk about what makes us tired: work. How do you relate to work? I think a lot of us have a mindset with work that's kind of a little perversion of the seven dwarfs. "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go." That's what we do. We go taking off. Work is a curse. That's how we think about it. We could not be thinking more unbiblically. Work is not a curse. Work existed in paradise past, and work will exist in paradise future.
I don't know what you think about when you think of heaven, but probably you're a victim of cartoons like I am, and you think that somehow when you die you're going to be given a cloud, a white robe, and a harp, and when you've been there ten thousand days you'll have no less days to sing his praise than when you first began, and you're going to be in an endless church sing-along. That is my vision of hell, that I'm just sitting there on a cloud with a harp. That isn't heaven.
Heaven will be a place that we will work without the effects of sin. It is a fact that because of sin work has become a bit more toilsome. Instead of finding our dignity and purpose in it, we work to find our complete meaning in it. There is no question that the Bible teaches that sin and our rebellion against God has made work more difficult. It has made the work of just bringing forth fruit from the ground more toilsome, because all of creation fell with us, so the ground is now hard and we have to work to bring forth produce.
The work of raising the next generation… We're called to be fruitful and multiply. The Scripture says to Eve, "From now on you're going to bring forth children in pain." That is not the curse of labor. It always cracks me up when guys go, "If women really didn't want to escape, as rebels, the curse God gave them, they wouldn't get epidurals, because God says they're supposed to bring forth children in pain as a result of corrupting all of humanity." If you want to have that worldview, that's fine. Just don't let Adam use tractors when he tills the earth.
By the way, that's not even what the verse means. Here's what the verse means: "Hey, Eve, because now you're a sinner and you're married to a sinner, you're going to bring forth people after your kind. They're going to be little sinners, and they're going to break your heart. They're going to rebel against you the way you rebelled against me. So child-rearing is going to be one of the most painful things you do. Now, grace can invade it." (See also last week's message.)
"You just need to know you're going to be raising a little sinner, a little rebel, and unless that child is reconciled to God, Eve, it's not going to go well with you or that child. That's why that child's best chance is for you to reconcile yourself to me, so you can raise that child in a way that they would see that there is a redemptive possibility in this world. But mark my words. You are going to raise children of wrath, children of rebellion now, and may the grace of God invade them through you."
Work is not a curse. It existed in paradise past. (I'll show you that today.) It will exist in paradise future. Let me just take you to heaven. Revelation, chapter 21, talks about the fact that there's going to be a day that the earth will no longer be clouded. It says in Revelation 21:23… This is after what's called the millennial reign, the 1,000 years where Christ himself rules on earth.
There's another great rebellion. There's one last great judgment. It's called the great white throne judgment of God. From that moment on, there is nothing but glory in the presence of the King. There is no sin. Every tear has been dried, and God has accomplished his purposes and restored paradise lost. Now watch what happens.
"And the city [the New Jerusalem] has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it." In other words, the whole earth will operate in great peace. You need to know heaven is not a place we're going to. God is going to redeem this earth that has been affected by the curse. This is going to be heaven.
Right now, it is the job of those of us who know God to bring about a little remnant, to bring about a little anticipation of his kingdom which is to come. God has put his people here who have come to know him, Adams and Eves who have been redeemed, to be doing the work of redemption until God brings it about to completion.
The number-one work of redemption is to tell other people about the kindness of God and win them back into relationship with him so when they stand before the great white throne judgment of God they can move into the glory God intends. There's going to be a day that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that God is good, that his Word is a treasure, and that the greatest gift in life is to live in relationship with him.
But you need to know while it is true (as we're memorizing right now as a body) there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is great condemnation for those who continue to try and find life, purpose, meaning, joy, satisfaction, forgiveness, and righteousness apart from grace and mercy made available by God through the gift of his Son who went to work to redeem us from our sin.
There's going to be a day when the earth is as it should be, and it says that in that day the nations will walk by the light of the revelation of God. We'll all know God is good, and we'll all have the ability to and will be in perfect harmony with him, and the kings of the earth (this is in eternity future) will bring their glory into it. What do you think that means?
It means that when you go to work and produce something that's beneficial for the world and useful to the King, you'll come and bring him what he likes, and Jesus will say, "Dilly, dilly" to you, and he'll be very happy, because you've been out there, not probably brewing Bud Light or good wine. You will bring it, and the King will use it to bless all in his kingdom and all of the nations. We're going to work in heaven. Heaven is not an eternal coffee break. It's just not. But you will be redeemed from the curse.
So let's talk about how you relate to work. Here we go. A couple of truths. First, God is a worker, and we are made in his image. Because we're made in his image, that means God made us to go to work. Again, work and it having been given to us is not a curse. If you go back to Genesis, chapter 1, you'll see the earth was formless and void. The reason for that is it's a place of judgment.
There was already an Enemy here when God wasn't here, and the Enemy, who was Satan, was cast out of God's presence because he rebelled against God and believed he didn't need God, that glory wasn't due to God, that glory was due to himself. He was cast out of the presence of the Lord. So it was settled once and for all that God was most powerful, but the question is…Is God the most good?
What God is about to do is to display to the angelic realm something he could never have shown before except for evil moving from an ontological possibility to a practical reality. What do I mean by that? If God is good, that means non-good must exist. In eternity past there was no evil. There was only God, but because God is love he had to create, he wanted to create to share his goodness and his glory.
The first thing God created was the angelic realm. When God created the angelic realm, because he is love and love always goes to work to create blessing, the angels enjoyed him, but then one angel led a rebellion, saying, "I think I'm worthy of praise. I think I am good. I think I deserve worship," and God cast him out. So now we know God is sovereign and powerful, but the question is…Is he really better than Satan could have done?
When Satan was cast out of the presence of God because God is light and love… There was no light and love where Satan was. There was darkness and chaos and no beauty. Into that world now God is going to create something, and that something is beauty and paradise. Now there's an Enemy there, and one of the things God creates on that place that previously was formless and void, this paradise now restored, is people made in his image.
He tells them, "All you have to do is walk with me, and it will stay glorious, but I'm going to warn you there's an Enemy there, and he's a liar. If you want to listen to him you can. If you want to buy the lie that you don't need me, who is good… If you want to choose good and evil on your own, you can do that, but on the day you do it you'll surely die, because you're not like me. You're not intrinsically good. You can have faith in me."
Men have always been made righteous by faith in their relationship with God. Not by what they do but who they trust. When man said, "I'm not going to trust God. I think I'll trust in my own ability to choose what is right and wrong. I think I'll be god…" From that moment on, we brought in death. So creation, the paradise God made, has been fallen, but watch what God does now as a result of that. He gets to show that he's good.
How good is he? He is going to accomplish his purposes, and he's even going to redeem those who rebelled against him. This is the story of human history. It's the story of all creation. In the midst of this, when God went to work to make beauty, the world was formless and void. And what did God do? It says he created a dome over the earth because he was about to create man, and man needed a certain kind of atmosphere to live, so he put a dome over it like roofers put on ceilings.
He put lights in the sky in order to mark out time because man was going to live now according to time. He put lights in the ceiling just like electricians put lights somewhere. He took what was vacant and put this thing of beauty and perfection like a construction worker turns a vacant lot into a useful building. He took an empty field that was chaotic and overrun with darkness and weeds, and like a landscape architect makes a beautiful park, God brought beauty.
God gave us a job description. There's my second point. God created people with a job description. Long before sin came into the world, he gave them meaning and purpose. Work gives purpose and dignity, and it's a key part of our ability to love other people. Don't you feel loved when you get great service? I know I do.
My buddy Benson was driving down the road here last week. He has his two kids, a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old who had to go back to the pediatrician because he has a fever. He had actually rearranged his trunk not long before that and had taken out some of the tools in his car to make room for some other things, and now he has a flat on the side of 635.
So he sits there, and he gets on his phone and calls this thing called Angelic Roadside Rescue. And don't you know it felt like it. So what did God do, do you think? Do you think God sent an angel? I mean, he could have. Too many times that's what we think God does, that he whips up the wind and through some serendipitous mystery just all of a sudden blesses people. God typically blesses people through other people.
That's his plan right now for redeemed humanity. It's for you to go to work and to seek the welfare of the city in which you live and to be a means of blessing to others. So here comes this guy. He gets there, and he's going to replace Benson's tire, and he realizes Benson doesn't have the right tools, but rather than giving up and saying, "Hey, man, I'm sorry; I can't do it," the guy went to work.
He said he was innovative, he was creative, he was tenacious, he was patient, and he worked until he got his tire dropped and got his new tire put on and got him on his way. Benson said, "Man, that is unbelievable. You're like a blessing to me." Do you know what the guy said? He said, "I want to be a blessing to you. I named my company this way for a specific reason, that you might see the kindness of God in the way I serve you in your hour of need."
Now don't you think Benson had his prayers answered in that moment? Don't you think that other guy felt like he had dignity and purpose and meaning? You bet he did. This is what it says in the Scripture. In Genesis 1:26, God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…" Then he says, "This is what we're going to do. We're going to give them a job. They're going to rule over this new creation the way I rule over everything."
Verse 27: "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." The very first time God speaks, he gives man the dignity and the privilege of having purpose and meaning through work that brings blessing to others. Why? Because that's who God is. God is love, and love is always active. So here we have it.
God blessed them, and God said to them, "Bring forth other people. You're going to partner with me to bring forth more humanity that will walk with me and enjoy me and be a blessing and fill the earth. It'll be an orchestra of giftedness and of dignity and of a community that seeks one another's best interests. The earth will be full of blessing, and you'll bring the glory of your work to share with one another."
"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." God gave people a job description. When we go to work, it should feel good to go to work, because you were created to do good work. You were not created to cheat. You were not created to cut corners. Work increases your sense of worth.
It doesn't give you worth. You already have extreme worth because God loves you, and because God loves you he gives you something to exist for. It is so appropriate that I'm doing work after parenting, because there is no greater work we could do than to shepherd other humans into a relationship with God. Don't you know that kids are grateful to God when he sends them the angel of a present, passionate follower of God who has a plan to shepherd their little heart.
Don't you know kids lie there and go, "God, you must really love me, because this daddy of mine is not trying to find his dignity by being gone and by buying me things and thinking that's what I want. No, what I want is to know there is a present protector who provides for me and isn't looking to have the world celebrate him; he is looking for me to celebrate you, because he is a present testimony to who I am."
Don't you think little kids who have a mother who is present in their life, who doesn't buy the lie that there's more dignity in being out there in the workplace than giving birth to and shape to eternal humanity made in the image of God, who's absolutely there, present, focused on them, discipling them, caring for them, loving them, reminding them of things that are true… Don't you think that child celebrates God? You bet they do.
In fact, we have such a problem with this that while we talk a lot about how valuable a mother is, sometimes we do silly things like tell moms, "Hey, the most important thing you can do every day is to make sure you spend an extended time with God." I've even had moms who will say… Careful, because it is important.
Moms will never be the kind of moms they need to be, dads will never be the kind of dads they need to be unless they spend time with the Lord, unless they abide with him, and out of an overflow of the one whose image they're supposed to bear they will be an image bearer. But I've talked to moms who were at moments where they're sitting there… They're at a Bible study, and they're saying, "Man, you have to get up and spend time with the Lord."
They take care of everything, and they're finally seated. They have their Bible open, they have their journal out, they have their coffee right there, and all of a sudden the baby cries, and they're kind of like, "Oh man. This is just great. Lord, I'm trying to spend time with you. I'm trying to do what they say at church I should do in my Wednesday Bible study. I should spend time with you, and now the baby is crying. Come on, Lord! I'm ready to sit here and go to work."
I think the Lord would say, "Hey, Mom, that is your work. Go love that child. Go worship me by picking that child up, feeding them, changing their diaper, caring for them, giving them a sense of presence and love and nurture. Hey, you need to read your Bible today, but right now what you need to do, because you are a Bible reader and a Bible liver, is go love that child." This is exactly what happens in 1 John.
First John 3:18 says, "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." Verse 17 says, "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" Don't you know that God wants you sometimes, because you're a churchgoing worshiper, because you're a gospel-informed Christian…?
Don't you know the world wishes you would go to work and bless them and not just sing a hymn? If you go up to somebody who's hungry and say, "Man, I see you're hungry; I'm going to pray for you," when you have the ability to cook them a meal and feed them, don't you think they're discouraged? I know I would be. Work is one of the primary ways we have to show love to other people. In everything we do we go to work.
You have one job. Have you ever seen these things? There are whole websites committed to this little fun idea that when people have one job and they don't do it, it messes things up. Here's one. This guy had one job, and that was to put hotdog buns in the hotdog bag, and they messed it up. You had one job, and that was to make a third place medal, not a thirst place medal. You just messed up the entire Olympics right here.
You had one job. Get the angle correctly. Don't mess it up. You have one job. Let's go ahead and make a nice little red stripe right here. Let's put the red square in the red stripe. You have one job. Have you ever seen this one? Put the cheese on the meat, please. One job. Then there's this one. You have one job. You don't want people parking in the "frie" lane. Let's get them out of the fire lane so they don't fry. Do your job. When somebody doesn't do their job right and they have one job, you have a problem.
Let me tell you something. You have one job. Do you want to know what it is? To live as Christ lived, as a worshiper of God, by going to work. God has created us to seek the welfare of the city in which we live. Just like God sought the welfare of this world we brought into corruption and he entered into it and went to work in order to bring about blessing and order and love and peace, he has left us here to do the same.
There has been this idea that has been introduced… It actually wasn't until probably about the nineteenth century that this small thinking about a spiritual and secular divide was introduced. The word secular is just a Latin word (saeculum) that means worldly or temporal. The idea was introduced that kind of came out of some of the language we use. What do we typically call Sunday? The Lord's Day, as if Monday through Saturday are our days.
No, what God was trying to show us is "You don't need to work all the time. I want you to have a little rhythm to your life." That's why sleep is an act of faith and it's why on he said, on Sunday, "You don't have to work all the time. There's a day I want you to rest. I want you to remind yourself who I am." That's why we gather. We are here to remind one another about the kindness of God and the goodness of God so that we would walk with him and remember what our job is.
The very first time Watermark gathered and we got ready to break, something spilled out of my mouth that now has been said after almost every corporate gathering Watermark has ever had. What do I say at the very end of every message? "Have a great week of worship." The reason I do that is because I have a biblical view of work. Do you really think God only cares about the hour and a half we spend together every week?
Do you guys know you'll spend more time at work in the next two weeks than you will in this building together corporately if you don't ever miss a Sunday and you spend an hour and a half with us every Sunday? Fifty-two times 1.5 is 78. Two weeks of work is 80 hours. Do you think God really cares about what you do in here for an hour and a half every week for a year much more than he cares about what you do every day all day for him?
One great Dutch theologian said, "There's not a single square inch of all creation that the Lord our God doesn't say 'Mine.'" Most of us kind of treat God like we treat the government. We pay a certain amount of tax for him, and we hope we have a little left over to do what we want to do. No, that's not who we are. There is no such thing as a spiritual/secular divide. There is no worldly, temporary world for us.
This is our Father's world, and we live in it, and we live for his glory. God has us here for a reason. What's the reason? To go to work to be a blessing to others. Our work doesn't give us dignity in and of itself in that we go and accomplish something, so people say we have great worth. No. Everything we do has great worth if it's a means to be a blessing to others.
Work is worship. If you love to worship God, then your favorite expression in all of life ought to be TGIM. "Thank God it's Monday, because I get to go into a dark world that's broken, that has chaos, that has insecurity, that has idolatry, that has greed, that has selfishness, and I get to go be God's person in that world. The work I do I do to honor God by being a blessing to others."
What a privilege to be God's means of grace and restoration. The church messes this up. There's a story I know about an evangelical college that was talking about the sacredness of all work, and yet in a spring chapel they brought a bunch of students in who, during the summer, were going to go and work on a mission assignment somewhere. They prayed for those students. They blessed them. They asked that God would honor them.
A professor from the business school went to the dean and said, "Hey, why don't we at chapel next week get all of the kids together who are going to go and work in an accounting office on internships and pray for them?" The guy said, "No, we're not going to do that." Why? Because he betrayed their statement that all vocations have dignity. All vocations have dignity. Martin Luther took on the Roman Catholic view that basically taught there was this idea of a varsity vocation for God and a JV vocation. Too many people have this mindset.
I can remember when my friend Kelly Shackelford, who graduated number one from Baylor Law School… I was headed to law school, and what happened in my life is that God gave me an ability to communicate and to serve and to lead in a way that I knew my greatest joy was going to be in this thing our world commonly calls the pastorate.
But I still to this day miss the fact that I'm not deployed in the business world for the glory of God. I still to this day love to sit with my friends who are in the legal arena and talk about law, and I love to sit with men who lead businesses and talk about strategies for their place of work to be a source of glory to God. I love that.
I love spending time with members of Watermark, helping them create a culture at work that their employees are grateful that this is the master who is over them, who gives them fair wages, who sees dignity in what they do, and who honors them and doesn't see them as pigeons or serfs in order to bring more glory to their vats but who loves them and seeks their best interests and develops them and sets them up for success and finds means to bless their family. I love to do that with men.
I remember telling my friend Kelly Shackelford… He came to me and said, "Todd, I want to be a pastor. I've always wanted to be a pastor." I said, "Kelly, let me tell you something. God has given you a great mind. You just graduated number one from your law school. We need God's men in the legal arena."
There were actually two members of Watermark, Don Campbell and my friend Charles Bundren, who grabbed Kelly and said, "Kelly, listen. What we're doing is a lot of work pro bono. What we really need to do is get one guy who can do this full-time and actually create case law that all of us can take assignments and do pieces, somebody who's going to protect religious liberty and make the case for a right understanding and the importance of the first amendment being preserved throughout our nation's future history."
So they got Kelly, and they provided for him so he could go to work defending religious liberty. Praise God Kelly Shackelford didn't go into the pastorate but took his calling… That's what vocation means. It's Latin for a calling, to be called to something. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have one job. You are called to worship God by bringing peace and beauty and order and freedom to others.
Kelly is one of the world's leading constitutional authorities. He has argued cases to protect religious liberty before our supreme court. He helps our congressmen and senators write laws. What an amazing, noble service for the King. So is your job. Martin Luther was approached by a man who had trusted Christ under his ministry.
He said, "What do you think I should do, Mr. Luther? What should I do now that I've become a believer? Shall I be a minister? Shall I be a traveling evangelist? Should I become a monk?" Because that, again, was what the Catholic Church was telling people was the highest spiritual calling: to go into monastic work. Luther said, "What do you do right now?" He said, "I'm a shoemaker."
He said, "Great. Then make a good shoe and sell it at a fair price, because that's your calling. You go to work now for the glory of God." I think of Harry Ironside, who was pastor of Moody Bible Church in Chicago in the 1920s and 30s. Harry Ironside tells a story of when he was a kid in Canada. There was an old Scottish man who was a cobbler, and in order to help make a little bit more money, in the summer he went to work for this cobbler.
The entire job this cobbler gave him was to take leather that had been soaking in some water and pull it out, and he had a piece of metal on his thigh, and Ironside would sit there and just pound that leather until it was hard and dry. Then the cobbler would take it and would use that as a sole to stitch and make a shoe. There was another cobbler in that town who was a lewd guy. All of the parents would say to their little boys, "Don't go in there, because that guy is crass and vile."
Because now he was working for a cobbler, Ironside decided to walk in there one day, and he saw this guy. He would take the leather right out of the water and immediately start stitching it on the upper part of the shoe. He looked at him and said, "Hey, man, aren't you supposed to pound that out?" The cobbler looked at him and said, "Ah, son. They come back to me a whole lot faster this way."
Why? Because when you sew wet leather onto the upper part of a shoe, what's going to happen is that leather is going to shrink, and eventually it's going to tear at the stitching, and then it's going to come back. Ironside saw a job he didn't want to do that was hard that was better for the customer, but customers were clearly still buying shoes from that guy. So he went back to Mr. Dan Mackay, this Scottish cobbler, and said, "Hey, Mr. Mackay, I have an idea. Why don't we just skip this one little step and start sewing it right onto the shoe?"
Mr. Mackay said to him, "Harry, I don't cobble shoes just for four bits and sixpence. I'm doing this for the glory of God, and I expect one day to see every single shoe I made in a big pile at the judgment seat of Christ. I don't want the Lord to say to me on that day, 'Hey, Dan, that was a poor job. You didn't do your best work here. You cut corners for greater profit, and you did not have in mind how you could bless others with your vocation when you made shoes.'"
He said, "I want to hear my Lord say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'" Ironside said that guy looked at him and said, "Harry, some guys are called to preach…" That turned out to be Ironside's destiny. "…and some are meant to make shoes. I make shoes for the glory of God." I daresay that cobbler probably did more to advance the gospel in that town than many preachers who didn't do their work with dignity.
In fact, I know of a story of a guy who was a mechanic, like my friend Gary Myers here in town. If your car is broken down, don't you wish you ran across a godly mechanic? Is there anything that's a greater blessing than a mechanic who knows what the problem is and fixes just that problem, and if they think somebody can fix it better and cheaper, they send you there? That's what my friend Gary Myers, who's a member of this church, does.
I've watched him serve people like crazy. I've watched him say, "You don't need to do that." He could sell them cars and push them other places, but he says, "No, the cheapest car you can own is the one you have. Let me do this to repair it for you. Here are your options, but here's what I would recommend to you. This is what I would do if it was my daughter's car. This is what I'm going to do for you." Why? Because what a way to bless people, to restore what is broken. That's what God does, and that's what God has his people do.
A story was told of a television station that was going to talk about and do an exposé on the corruption within the auto mechanic world. They had a car that was rigged. They knew exactly what the problem was. Maybe a vacuum line was undone that would make the car either not start or just stall out right away. It was an easy fix. It could just be reinserted and then taped, if it even needed to be taped, or maybe if they wanted to go all the way and replace the actual vacuum line they could, but it didn't take much work at all.
They went around and showed all of the different mechanics who saw the problem, identified the problem, and then overcharged. They sent old women and young women in there. They sent men. They sent guys who were blue collar, and he watched the way those mechanics treated each one of them differently, because those mechanics didn't work for the glory of God. They summed up the situation and tried to do what was best for their own profit.
But there was one mechanic who, no matter who they sent him, just said, "You have a simple fix right here. It's going to be your lucky day. Guess what? I'm going to put this back on here. I might put a little tape on that thing, and you're good to go." "What do I owe you?" "You owe me nothing. That took me 15 seconds. God bless you." They asked that mechanic, "What in the world makes you do this? No other mechanic in town is doing this."
The mechanic said the same thing that little cobbler said up in Canada. He said simply, "Listen. I'm not here for me. I love Christ, and this is my ministry. I have a chance to bless people, not exploit people for the glory of God. That's exactly what I'm going to do." That became the lead story on the top of the fold of a newspaper. I will tell you that auto mechanic probably did more to advance the gospel in that community that day than every preacher in the entire region, because it was his calling to be faithful when he went to work.
There's a quote that has been around for a long time that talks about what makes somebody a useful worker for God. No one really knows who this is attributed to. Some people wrongly contribute it to Luther, but Luther didn't say this. "The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays, not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors."
God doesn't love clean floors as much as he loves people, and who doesn't love a clean floor? A clean floor is not an end in itself. It is for the glory of people God loves that we clean floors. The work in and of itself is an expression of a love for the people who will walk on those floors. "A Christian cobbler," the person said, "does his duty not by putting little crosses on all of the shoes he makes but by making good shoes, because God is interested in caring for the feet of people."
Do you understand the dignity of work? "Thank God it's Monday." When I tell you, "Let's go have a great week of worship," what I'm saying is we're not paying some spiritual task and we get to go out there now and kind of get our own little cut of the pie. No. What I'm saying is we get to go to work as God's people, spread out all over this city as godly mechanics, as godly roadside assistant people, as godly doctors.
I think about my friend Grant Beckham, who's a doctor here, an internist, and the number of people who go to see Grant. They watch Grant take time… He specifically reduced his practice so he could spend more time with patients, making sure he asks about their spiritual health as much as their physical health.
I think about how people when they get in… It's so funny how some doctors think they have to maintain this professional relationship. Do you know that they've shown again and again that people get better when doctors pray with their patients and they see this doctor isn't just moving them through so they can make another line?
Any doctor who's in a room with a patient and just says, "I'm going to do everything I can, but I believe God is a great healer, and one of the things I'd love to do, if you'll let me do it, in the midst of giving you care and treatment is just pray for you. I know what pain is like, and if there's any way I can be a part of the means of grace, using the mind God has given me and the training I have to be a source of God's blessing in your life, I'm all in."
God uses people, not wind and serendipitous mystery. God uses people to bless people. What incredible privilege that we get to go to work. What an incredible privilege that God lets you be a mom, to be a present help to a child in trouble. What an incredible privilege that God made you a dad to be there to shepherd that kid through all the confusion of growing up in a godless world. Work has dignity. People ought to pray that their kids get Christian schoolteachers. They ought to pray that their doctor is a Christian doctor.
They ought to go, "Everywhere I go, I want to run into somebody who does nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind considers others as more important than himself, who doesn't merely look out for his own personal interests but also for the interests of others. I pray to God my boss is a Christian man who isn't concerned about profit but wants to profit me in the way he shepherds me and guides me and sets me up for success, who reminds me of the inherent dignity of being a blessing to others."
If you love to worship, "TGIM" ought to be your motto. Can I tell you something about work? When we get work wrong, it causes problems that the world is trying to figure out all the time how to solve. Poverty, which exists, exists because of the way sin infects how we work. Here's the way it affects us. There are two ways sin can infect work.
First, we can be slackers. We can think our greatest achievement in life is to not have to go to work. What a shame. Can you imagine if that's really your goal in life, to sit on a beach and drink mai tais? Look. There are times you ought to get away and take a break, but if you think this is your chance just to get a break instead of the living for the glory of God, you are not reading your Bible.
You have one job, and that one job is to bring glory to God by being his light in the world. We show up and we go to work. We work for the common good. By the way, the very first way we work for the common good is so we can provide for ourselves. I don't sit there lazily. I don't become addicted and incompetent in what I do so others have to put me underneath their care.
I don't abandon my kid to go and try to find my great worth in the world so somebody else has to come behind and clean up the mess I left for a child. We do our job. We are not slack in our work. Proverbs 10:4 says, "Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich." Second Thessalonians 3 warns us against being individuals who don't go to work. This is what it says:
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you…"
He goes on. Look at verse 10. "For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either." You're not blessing humankind when you enable them in their laziness and their undisciplined lifestyle. What the Bible simply says is, "Hey, let me tell you something. If a man won't work, let his stomach work for him in its hunger and its longing for something." Well, let's go to work.
I'm not talking about people who can't work because of some significant disability. Guess what we should do? We should go to work and count it as our great privilege to be a means of grace in their life because they're not able to do what God has still in his kindness enabled us to do. With great joy should we care for other people who can't work, but we are not caring for people who don't work if we feed them.
The second reason poverty exists is selfishness and sin. There is no question that racism, greed, systematic injustices, unjust wages that are given for good work, and exploitation of the poor and the vulnerable are reasons there's poverty in this world, and if there is anything believers ought to do, they ought to work to undo systematic injustice, racism, and educational injustice in order to give people an opportunity to be educated and earn a wage that will allow them to prosper.
If there's anything believers ought to do, they ought to have a calling to be godly politicians who make just laws that lead to the blessing of others. If there's anything godly people ought to do, they ought to bust through materialistic capitalism and live underneath the biblical ethic of capitalism, but not for the purpose of gross abundant greed. If they make much money, they ought to be rich in good works, not in more mai tais and beach houses.
What a blessing that God would make you wealthy so you could systematically begin to work to undo all that isn't right as a means of God's grace. Poverty exists because of how sin affects work and all that we do. It makes me crazy when I hear some people talk about the fact that, "Gosh, Todd. I really want to be God's man. I really want to be a spiritual person," and sometimes they're lax in their work.
I've talked to people who say, "I'm not going to hire any more Christians because they act like what they do here where I work and what we do as a business isn't the most important thing." That should never have been said about anybody who takes the name of Jesus Christ. It is impossible to be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good. The more heavenly minded you are, the more useful you ought to be.
What Jesus did when he was here is he reversed the effects of the curse. There was nobody who was more heavenly minded than Jesus. Let me just remind you of something. For three decades, Jesus worked as a carpenter before he did three years working as a preacher. Justin Martyr, who was a Christian apologist who lived in the second century from AD 100 to 165, was born in Syria… He said it was well known that there were still plows made by the carpenter in Nazareth that were useful a hundred years after he made them.
Does it surprise you that Jesus made good plows? Have you ever thought about this, that you ought to see the glory of God in Jesus' plows as much as you see the glory of God in Jesus' cross? Don't you know if you were a farmer in Nazareth you were glad God's man made your plow, that God's man made your table? You can be sure there were no crooked chairs that were coming out of that carpenter's shop in Nazareth, because he went to work for the glory of God. It's a means of grace to build good things.
The greatest means of grace is to build redemption in men's hearts, and one of the ways you do that… When people ask, "Why do you make shoes this way?" you say, "Because God loves you and he cares about your feet. Because God loves you and he wants your labor to have good return, so that's a good plow. Because God loves you, and when you sit in your chair he doesn't want it to break or be uneven." It's impossible.
Dorothy Sayers, who wrote a lot on this topic, said the church's instruction to intelligent carpenters is typically, "Hey, listen. Don't be a drunk or disorderly in your leisure time. Make sure if you're a good carpenter you're not a drunk when you come to church." That should not be the church's admonition to carpenters. The first church admonition should be "Make good tables for the glory of God." That's your calling. You have one job. You're the light of the world.
It says in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that [other people] see your good works…" That's not just helping old ladies across the street. It's if you're a road paver, it's to pave roads so she doesn't step in a hole and break her ankle when she's walking across the street, for the glory of God, because good streets serve people. Let men see it, and when they go, "Why do you do this? Why is your work so much quality?" answer, "Because God loves you, and I'm a means of his grace right here in your life."
What Jesus did when he was here is he reversed the effects of the curse. That's what doctors do. That's what roofers do. That's what mothers do. That's what teachers do. That's what mailmen do. That's what preachers do. That's what landscapers do. That's what dentists do. That's what masons do. That's what cowboys do. It's what tentmakers do. You go to work. It's your calling. Making your work an object of worship is idolatry, but making work less than a form of worship is paganism. May we never do it.
We are all ministers of the gospel, and the way we minister is by going to work for people in a way that they're going to be blessed because we show up. I love what Luther said. "God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation it is." Cows need to be milked, and I guarantee you cows want a gentle milker milking them. Somebody has to milk the cows. What a high and holy calling. If God calls you to do it, do it for that.
Let me just close with this. When I say, "Have a great week of worship," what I'm really saying is, "Work is worship." You have to lose the idea that heaven is a perpetual coffee break. You have to lose the idea that work is a curse. No. Toil is a part of the curse, but work is not a part of the curse. Part of the curse is how we work underneath it now and the lie that work for work's sake alone will satisfy us. It won't.
So what do you do? You abide with Jesus. You remind yourself of how God went to work for you, and tomorrow, wherever you are, you go to work. The reason you go to work is not to make yourself more comfortable but to be a means of God's grace in this world. You are God's grace in that classroom. You are God's grace in that kitchen. You are God's grace in that business where other people go, "I am so grateful I work for an owner who doesn't seek his own interests."
You go to work for that godless owner, and you show him that you're going to honor God by working diligently underneath him, and you're going to help him see the goodness of God. Don't be slack in your work; be great. Proverbs 18:9 says, "He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys." When you have a chance to do good and you don't do it, that's the Devil's work.
Every chance you have to make something better, you do it, because that's what people filled with the Spirit do. Be full of integrity. Walk securely by the way you work in private and in public. Don't be that guy who has to shut down the solitaire screen when the boss rounds the corner. Why? Because you don't work for your boss. "Whatever you do," Colossians 3 says, "do your work heartily for the Lord and not for men."
You can be sure of this: your boss may not honor you for it, but you're not working for that boss. You're working for a different King. Hebrews 6:10: "For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints." When you love somebody by doing good work, you are loving God, because God loves to bless people. The way God blesses people is by putting you at work tomorrow.
When you fix somebody's air conditioner in a way that causes it to be more efficient and to cool their house, that delights God, because he loves people to be comfortable. It delights God when you clean a pool well, because God knows it delights people to have a clean pool. It delights God when you help people understand they're not going to find… I have a note here from my buddy Scott Polk who sells diamonds for a living.
He ran into a couple who went down there, and the young man was exasperated because he couldn't get a big enough stone for the girl he loved. This godly jeweler just sat with him and explained, "This is what really is going to bring blessing to your wife: not the size of the rock on her hand but the size of the man's heart who yields to Christ in the way he loves her. Don't go into debt to show your love. Be wise. Model for her a certain kind of stewardship right now."
He sat with them, prayed for them, and helped them get a stone that fit them and not exploited and advanced his profits. That's what God's people do. Be full of integrity. Be committed to your task. Proverbs 22:29 says, "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men." When people ask, "Why do you do the work you do this way?" you say, "Because God loves you and you're worth his very best, and I'm giving my very best to you, that you might know God cares about you."
Love your coworkers. Do you know what this is? I asked for a couple of these ID badges. One is from Raytheon. Or this one will get you into a school. Do you know what that is? That's a passport to an unreached people group I don't have the ability to go into, but tomorrow you do. God is going to send you in there, and into that petty, tired, dysfunctional, backbiting place of work is going to come a grace-filled lover who's going to care for those who are around him and see how he can comfort them and encourage them.
Tuesday I'm going to be burying David Sherrard here, the first police officer ever killed in Richardson. Do you know why I'm burying him here? Because seven years ago, Shaun Morgan, who's a member of Watermark, also a part of that SWAT team, went to work as an agent of grace and bumped into David, who was in the middle of a broken marriage and an endless life of pain.
He shared with him, as they sat there and went to work together, about the goodness of God in his life, and David came to trust Christ. He was a member of our body. He restored his marriage, shepherded his kids, became a means of grace himself in that same SWAT team, that same police department, because somebody knew their vocation was to be a godly SWAT team member and to love those he went to work with.
I was with Shaun at their house on Friday, and Shaun goes, "Man, this is tough." I said, "Shaun, do you know what's really tough? Standing here like this when you worked next to somebody for eight years and you never told him about where real hope can be found and what makes a real man who can swoop in and be graceful and bring peace in his home, not just where there's crime out there. That makes this really tough."
Do you know God has given you a passport, folks? Do you know work is worship? Do you know if you love Jesus you ought to wake up and go, "TGIM! Let's go." We have gotten together. We have reminded ourselves about our holy calling, and we are going to go and be a holy people. There ought to be a town praying that folks who love Jesus who are part of Watermark work for them, shepherd their kids, teach their classes, fix their air conditioners, pave their roads, balance their books, finance their cars. Let's go to work. Amen?
Father, I pray that we would see work as worship. I pray that we would love our coworkers, that we wouldn't be grumblers, that we'd do all things without grumbling or disputing, and that we would prove ourselves blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shall appear as lights in the world. We have one job, and that is to go to work.
I thank you for the privilege of the calling of teaching the Word of God, and I thank you for the privilege that the thousands who are part of our body have right now to go and to take their hands and say, "Jesus, go to work through me. Be redemptive. Restore what is lost. Bring your glory where your glory has been compromised." Let us be your people. Let us go to work. In Jesus' name, amen.