Updated: Jan 7, 2021
Have you ever asked this question? "What is a Christian work? As Christians, how are we supposed to work in this world?"
In the book of Thessalonians, Paul thanks God for the life of Christians that were transformed by the Gospel. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (ESV):
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In these verses, Paul is thanking God because people at Thessalonian church were living a life that was transformed by the Gospel. How did the Gospel transform their lives? One areas of their lives where the transformative power of the Gospel was very evident was in the way that the church members were working in the world.
(1) Work flowing from faith.
First, their work in the world was flowing from their faith in God. Faith in Jesus Christ is what brings us to God's presence. When we are exercising our faith to trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, God makes us His children (John 1:12).
So, what does it mean to do the work that flows from our faith in God? Well, it means when we do the work that flows from our faith in God, we are working in relationship with God. And, our work becomes not about us, but about God. For example, in the book of Genesis, God was interested in saving many lives of people from the famine that was coming into the land. So, God appointed Joseph as the Prime Minister of the land, and Joseph worked in relationship with God to bring about God's salvation for many people, as Joseph affirms his leadership position came from the Lord in Gen 50:20. When we are working in relationship with God, our work becomes worship for God and an instrument to carry out His will in the world.
(2) Labour flowing from love.
Second, the members at Thessalonians church was working and laboring, flowing from the love. The central message of the Gospel is that God so loved the world that He sent Jesus Christ to save us from our sins (John 3:16). When we taste and receive God's love, our whole life becomes all about sharing God's love to the others. In fact, we can do that through our work.
The church reformer Marin Luther once said:
"God does not need your good works, but your neighbour does."
For example, God does not need a doctor, so he can feel well. But, we the human beings do need doctors, when we are not feeling well. We need doctors' advise and their help. The primary motive for our work should not be for money, but to bless the neighbour and to serve the neighbours with our love for them. When we do that we are able to share God's love for the people through our work.
(3) Work flowing from hope
And, lastly, the members at the Thessalonians church were working with hope in mind. The hope of the Gospel is that one day Jesus Christ will return to the world and redeem everything in the world. Where there is war, Jesus will bring peace; where there is brokenness, Jesus will bring perfect healing. With His presence, Jesus will bring total transformation of everything that has been broken in our world.
Inevitably, in this world, we face frustrations at work. Even though we try to work in faith and with love, there are times we face obstacles and difficulties at our work places (e.g. internal politics, competions, unrealistic goals, difficult clients, complex problems, etc, you name it...). But, the reason we can persevere and continue working in faith and love is because of our hope in Jesus Christ who is coming back to redeem our work and to restore everything that has been fallen in this world.
So as Christians, how should we work in this world? God wants us to do the work that flows from our relationship with Him. When our work flows from our relationship with God, our work becomes all about worshipping God and about accomplishing His purpose in the world. Secondly, God wants us to do the work that flows from our love for the world. The primary motivation for our work should be to serve our neighbours. And, lastly, even in the most difficult times, we can work with hope and perseverance, because we believe that God is coming back to redeem everything in this world that is broken and marred by sins.
Are you working today that flows from your faith ? Are you working today that flows from your love for your neigbours? And are you working and enduring even in difficult times because of our hope in Jesus Christ who is coming back to restore all things?