Although there may be days when we feel like he got it right, we know God has ordained work as a stewardship of His created world (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). He has designed work for His glory and our good. But how might we glorify God at work? This list is not exhaustive, but here’s at least 12 ways —
1. Believe that all legitimate work is holy or unholy before God based on our faith, not the nature of the work itself.
But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
2. Be just and honest in all your dealings with money.
A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight (Proverbs 11:1)
3. Be prayerfully dependent upon God, pouring contempt on self-sufficiency.
Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 4:17)
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain (Psalms 127:1).
4. Use the wages earned by your work to provide for and bless others.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1Timothy 5:8).
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need (Ephesians 4:28).
5. Grow in your skill-set, work hard, and strive for excellence.
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men (Proverbs 22:29).
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23).
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
6. Exemplify love for your neighbor in how you interact with your colleagues.
Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).
7. Plan ahead and sincerely preface future tasks with “if God wills.”
Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house (Proverbs 24:27).
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15)
8. Speak the gospel to your colleagues.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
9. Work as unto the Lord and as unto men.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust (1 Peter 2:18 ).
10. Focus on the work you’ve been given.
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty (Proverbs 28:19).
11. Speak words of grace.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29)
12. Rest in your justification by faith alone in Christ alone.
yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified (Galatians 2:16).
This past Sunday, we learned about our role in sanctification… that is, we are called to “…just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” (Phil. 2:13) Our role is NOT passive:(2 minute clip below):
I believe with all my heart that we can do nothing to merit eternal life. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. God accepts and declares us righteous not because of our good deeds, but because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We cannot earn God’s favor. We depend entirely on his gospel grace.
Full stop. Period. New paragraph.
We can also be obedient.
Not flawlessly. Not without continuing repentance. Not without facing temptation. Not without needing forgiveness. But we can be obedient.
Obedience is not a dirty word for the gospel-centered Christian. We are saved from the wrath of God by sovereign grace, and that sovereign grace saves us unto holiness. Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ has redeemed us from all lawlessness to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14).
More Spiritual than the Bible
Sometimes in a genuine effort to be honest about our persistent imperfections we make it sound like holiness, of any sort, is out of reach for the Christian. But this doesn’t do justice to the way the Bible speaks about people like Zechariah and Elizabeth who “were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Likewise, Jesus teaches that the wise person hears his words and does them (Matt. 7:24). There’s no hint that this was only a hypothetical category. Quite the contrary, we are told to disciple the nations that they might obey everything Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:19-20).
God expects the Christian to be marked by virtues like love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23) instead of being known for sexual immorality, idolatry, theft, and greed (1 Cor. 6:9-11). No Christian will ever be free from indwelling sin, but we should no longer be trapped in habitual lawlessness (1 John 3:4). “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).
That’s true, you may say, but in the end all our righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags. There’s nothing we work we can do that truly pleases God or can be considered righteous in his sight. I’ve probably explained Isaiah 64:6 with similar words, but I don’t think it’s quite right. The “righteous deeds” Isaiah has in mind are most likely perfunctory rituals offered by Israel without sincere faith and without wholehearted obedience. In Isaiah 65:1-7 the Lord rejects Israel’s sinful sacrifices. There is nothing really righteous about these deeds. They are an insult to the Lord, smoke in his nostrils, just like the ritual “obedience” of Isaiah 58 that did not impress the Lord because his people were oppressing the poor. All that to say, we should not think every kind of “righteous deed” is like a filthy rag before God. In fact, Isaiah 64:5 says “You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways.” It is not impossible for God’s people to commit righteous acts that please God.
John Piper explains:
Sometimes people are careless and speak disparagingly of all human righteousness, as if there were no such thing that pleased God. They often cited Isaiah 64:6 which says our righteousness is as filthy rags. It is true–gloriously true–that none of God’s people, before or after the cross, would be accepted by an immaculately holy God if the prefect righteousness of Christ were not imputed to us (Romans 5:19; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But that does not mean that God does not produce in those “justified” people (before and after the cross) an experiential righteousness that is not “filthy rags.” In fact, he does; and this righteousness is precious to God and is required, not as the ground of our justification (which is the righteousness of Christ only), but as an evidence of our being truly justified children of God. (Future Grace, 151)
A Double Danger and a Triple Testimony
It is a dangerous thing to ignore the Bible’s presumption, and expectation, that (a certain kind of ) righteousness is possible. On the one hand, some professing Christians may be deceived, thinking that personal holiness isn’t really necessary and therefore it doesn’t matter how they (or anyone else) lives. On the other hand, some Christians may be too reticent to recognize that they actually do good things. We can think it’s a mark of spiritual sensitivity to consider everything we do as morally suspect. But this is not the way the Bible thinks about righteousness. As Piper puts is, “our Father in heaven is not impossible to please. In fact, like every person with a very big heart and very high standards, he is easy to please and hard to satisfy” (152)
There is no righteousness that makes us right with God except for the righteousness of Christ. But for those who have been made right with God through faith alone, many of our righteous deeds are not only not filthy in God’s eyes, they are exceedingly sweet.
Before this past Friday’s sermon on “Patience & Endurance Through Suffering”, Pastor Jay talked about a video he had recently seen about brothers and sisters who have endured persecution for their faith and how they endured. You can listen to this in the two minute clip below:
Here is the original post he was talking about (parents, please use discretion if showing this video to your children):
This 10-minute video clip explores the persecution of Christians under Ceausescu’s Romania. It includes video and audio from Richard Wurmbrand, Nicolae Moldoveanu, and more. We in the West would do well to learn from our brothers and sisters who have endured persecution for their faith.
Here are some lines from the latter part of the video that stand out:
For you, it is not just a prison. It’s your parish.
God will judge us not according to how much we endured, but how much we could love.
Lord, how can I thank you that I am among those being tortured and mocked and that because of your mercy, I was not among those who torture and mock!
With every blow you give, a prayer rises to God so you may be forgiven.
Here is the greatest thing: when you see that the man torturing you is more afflicted than you who are being tortured.
Lastly, here are some groups that set Scripture to music (we use Seeds Family Worship material in our kids Sunday School), which is another easy way to memorize Scripture. This post from D.A. Carson’s research manager Andy Naselli:
Jenni and I are frequently amazed at how easily our two-year-old daughter, Kara Marie, memorizes things. It’s amazing. So we’re trying to harness some of her brainpower by memorizing the Bible.
Jenni has taught Kara dozens of verses, and we’re using some additional resources to help these verses stick long-term. Texts in song are remembered long, so memorizing Scripture with music is especially helpful (though some of the songs mentioned below may be more “bumpy” than some prefer).
The verses in sets D and E (including the entire Sermon on the Mount from Matt 5–7) are put to music on two CDs (samples 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). Some of these songs are a bit cheesy (e.g., there’s a Frank Sinatra impersonator), but putting Scripture to music like this can be so helpful for memorizing.
2. Hide ‘Em in Your Heart (Steve Green)
The DVDs are corny (probably very stylish in the 1980s), but the songs are clear, catchy, and singable.
3. Questions with Answers and Songs for Saplings (Dana Dirksen)
A mother and her children sing Bible verses and Q&A taken from a digest of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Stephen Hildebrandt’s The Catechism for Young People). Some are more catchy than others (e.g., “How can you glorify God,” sample 3 here).
During Friday’s sermon Pastor Emilio recommended you listen to the following message that we previously posted on our blog which is below:
REPOST FROM Jan. 28, 2009:
Pastor Emilio Ramos writes:
I highly recommend a much needed message for the church. Sam Storms delivers a powerful meditation “Joy’s eternal increase: Edwards on the beauty of Heaven“.
When was the last time we have heard a message on heaven? When was the last time you heard a graphic description of the glories and the joys of the heavenly kingdom? Yet it is where we will spend our endless existence with God. Heaven is the realm of ancient days where our vapor like existence in this world will be but a blip on the screen of our existence.
I found this message riveting, challenging, and deeply encouraging. “Joy’s Eternal Increase” will help you to labor to make this world seem more fleeting and vain, and conversely, heaven more precious and treasure-like.
Q.Why should we even consider this topic of heaven? A. Philippians 3:19-4:1 – Knowing this enables us to escape the grip of earthly things and stand firm. A. 1 Peter 1:3-5 – The ultimate purpose of the new birth is our experience of a heavenly hope. A. 1 Peter 1:13 – It is a commanded obsession. A. Hebrews 11:9-10 ; Hebrews 11:13-16 – Looking to the heavenly city helped the faith of Abraham and the patriarchs. A. Revelation 16:5-7 – Enables us to respond appropriately to the injustice in this life. A. Romans 8:18 – Produces the fruit of endurance and perseverance now in suffering. A. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – When earthly suffering is juxtaposed with the endless ages of eternal bliss can the suffering in this life become tolerable. A. Colossians 3:1-3 – We are told to fix our mind on the things of heaven, where our life is hid with Christ.