BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Servants, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not in the way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as unto the Lord, and not unto men: knowing that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether (he be) bond or free” (Eph 6:5-8 American Standard Version).
There is the understanding among Christians and non-Christians that work can be divided into two – sacred and secular. Unfortunately, many think that God is only interested in “sacred work” because it has to do with the church, the Kingdom of God or the work of God. They think that God is not interested in “secular work” because it has to do with the things of this world.
But the truth is that God is interested in both what we call sacred work and secular work. Though the word “secular” is not even in the Bible, both secular work and sacred work are the work of God.
Paul says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom 13:1-4 NKJV). In that Scripture, the authority (government officials) is called God’s minister two times. This is despite the fact that those in position of authority are not doing church work. Nevertheless, their duties affect the church and the society in general. Thus, God is interested in their work.
Those in the civil service or public service and those in the private business or private sector should know that they are God’s servants, and that God is interested in their work. If they know this, they will serve or work not as unto man but as unto God, and in addition to their remuneration or profit, God will reward them.
Whatever job a child of God does, in or outside the church, he is a servant of God and should work diligently and faithfully. God called Cyrus his shepherd, yet, he wasn’t a Jew or a priest. Because he would facilitate the rebuilding of Jerusalem, he was God’s shepherd. “When I say of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,’ he will certainly do as I say. He will command that Jerusalem be rebuilt and that the Temple be restored” (Isa 44:28 NLT). In fact, Isa 45:1 refers to Cyrus as His anointed – God’s anointed. It may amaze some that Cyrus is called God’s anointed. To anoint means to set authorize, choose or set apart someone for a particular assignment or work. God had chosen Cyrus or set apart Cyrus him for a particular assignment. Cyrus understood this and said in Ezra 1:2, “All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah” (NKJV). Thus, he was a servant of God to perform a particular assignment.
What about Naaman? 2 Kings 5:1 says through Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria, the LORD had given great victoies to Syria. What concerned God with Syria? Wasn’t Israel the nation that God chose? Yet, God gave Syria victory even over Israel, His chosen nation, by Naaman, a leper! Yes, to punish Israel for abandoning Him. God can use anybody. He can use anybody’s work to achieve His purpose. Such a person becomes his servant at that time. God is interested in your work.
Work is not a curse
There’s a wrong belief that work is as a result of the fall. No. Adam worked before the fall. God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it (Gen 2:15). That was his work, and that preceded the fall.
Work is God’s gift to man not a curse. “As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor — this is the gift of God” (Eccl 5:19 NKJV). God worked, and still works. The Bible says God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested the seventh day. He worked, and Jesus worked too. Jesus says, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17 NKJV). You need to work too. You should receive God’s gift cheerfully – don’t be grumbling while doing your work. If you’re not happy with your work and you need to change it, do so, but make sure that you don’t have attitudinal problem, otherwise your grumbling will continue even with a new, better job – you’ll still be dissatisfied. God is interested in your work.
Fundamental truths about work
1.God created work and He is a worker. As I said earlier, He worked for six days creating the earth and rested the seventh day. Jesus also testified that his Father was still working. He said, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (John 5:17 NKJV).
2. God wants you to work and to work diligently and faithfully. In the parable of the talents, the master said to the servant who had profited with the five talents he had been given, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matt 25:21 NKJV). And in verse 23, he said a similar thing to the servant who had profited with the two talents he had been given. These two servants worked unlike the third servant who didn’t profit with the one talents he had been given.
3. You must have the mind to work, both “secular” and “sacred”. The determination to work is important. Some people go to work but don’t have the mind to work. Nehemiah said about the Jews who worked to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that they had a mind to work. “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work” (Neh 4:6 NKJV). That means the people were willing to work.
4. Don’t do illegal work or work that violates the Word of God or engage in dishonest practices at work. Such work is not God’s gift. Jobs that run contrary to public morality and ethics are not God’s gift, and a child of God must avoid doing them. Stealing is not a good job. Those who steal should go and look for a good job to do. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good…” (Eph 4: 28 NKJV). Engaging in fraudulent ventures to get quick wealth is not a good job. It has no blessing of God. Prov 13:11 says, “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows” (NLT). Any work that exploits others is in violation of the word of God. God does not approve of it. Prov 28:8 says, “One who increases his possessions by usury and extortion gathers it for him who will pity the poor” (NKJV).
God is not just interested in the type of work you do but also how you do the work. “God cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business” (Prov 16:11 The Message). Don’t cheat by using dishonest weights and measures. “Yes, use honest weights and measures, so that you will enjoy a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Those who cheat with dishonest weights and measures are detestable to the LORD your God” (Deut 25:15-16 NLT). According to Prov 11:1, “God hates cheating in the marketplace; he loves it when business is above board” (The Message).
God is interested in your work. Don’t demand or take bribe; be contented with your salary or income. “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A bribe always hurts the cause of the person who is in the right” (Exo 23:8 NLT). Deut 16:19 gives a similar warning. “Never accept a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and corrupt the decisions of the godly” (NLT). Christians who demand and collect bribe before they do what they are paid for or to do what is wrong should repent before if it too late.
5. Your work must not replace God in your life. Don’t worship your work. That is idolatry; and many believers are guilty of this modern idolatry. Anything or anyone that takes priority above God in your life becomes an idol, and replacing God with work is vanity. Solomon talked a lot about life’s vanity in Ecclesiastes chapters 1-9.
Give priority to fellowship with God; don’t let the pressure of work hinder your fellowship – it must not steal your time for quite time, personal Bible study, church attendance. Someone has rightly said that seven days without a Sabbath make one weak! I totally agree. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Ex 20:8-11 NKJV). Deut 5:12-14 deals with the same subject.
Except you’re on essential service in your paid employment should you go to work on Sunday. Don’t be wiser than God. If you didn’t make enough money for six days, is it by violating the God’s word to go to work on the seventh day that will give you your needed financial breakthrough? You cannot hope to be blessed by disobeying the word of God. Don’t let Satan deceive you.
Why you should work
1. To manifest the character of your father God. God is a worker you must look like your father (John 5:17; Exo 34:21; 20:9). In the Old Testament, whoever did any work on the Sabbath was to be put to death (Exo 35:2). Even without anyone killing people today many are dying because of lack of rest. Many others are dying spiritually because they are disconnected from God because they forsake the assembling together of saints as a result of work. “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near” (Heb 10:25 NLT).
2. Work is good for your self-esteem. There is dignity of labour. It shows you’re responsible. Paul told the Corinthians, “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God” (1 Thess 2:9 NKJV). Paul not only worked so that he would not be a burden anyone, he charged the Corinthians, and, by extension, all Christians, to do the same. “This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before. As a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others to meet your financial needs” (1 Thess 4:11-12 NLT).
Work increases your self-confidence. It earns you some respect. It improves your life outlook. Through service, you contribute to the production of goods and services so you don’t feel useless, and therefore you feel happy with yourself.
3. Work is good for your mental and physical health. You develop as you work improving your mental alertness and learning new things. When work is not sedentary, it helps you to exercise your body. The burst of adrenaline the pressure of work releases regularly in workers is good for the health making it unnecessary to use artificial stimulants which lead to addiction. Even psychologists suspect that having a satisfying work with a degree of responsibility is good for physical and mental health.
4. Work helps you to earn money to meet your personal needs from time to time. These needs are mainly feeding, shelter and clothing as well as other needs. A worker is entitled to be the first person to enjoy from the money he earns – he can take care of his needs as he earns money from time to time. 2 Tim 2:6 says, “Hardworking farmers are the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor” (NLT). God hates idleness and irresponsibility. According to Paul, the rule is, “Whoever does not work should not eat” (2 Thess 3:10 NLT). Paul says again, “And we labor, working with our own hands…” (1 Cor 4:12 NKJV).
Nobody should be idle; everyone should find work to do to be able to meet his needs not to be a burden on others. The desire to meet one’s personal needs is enough motivation to work. Even if the work is not the best one would have loved to do, it will still be more dignifying than stealing or begging. Prov 16:26 says, “The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on” (NKJV).
According to a proverb, “God gives every bird its food, but does not throw it into the nest.” That means everybody, including the birds, must make effort to meet his needs. That doesn’t contradict what Matt 6:26 says that birds neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet our heavenly Father feeds them.
5. Work gives you means of providing for your family. 1 Tim 5:8 says, “But those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers” (NLT). How can one take care of one’s family without the resources? By working, one gains access to money to provide for one’s family. Unfortunately, some people make money but don’t take care of their immediate family; they help outsiders. This is wrong priority. Charity begins at home. Don’t put the cart before the horse.
6. Work provides you money to give to others in cash or in kind. One important reason to work is to be able to give to others. God wants His children to be generous to others not to be stingy. But someone must first acquire before he can distribute. Work provides access to money to give to others money or material things.
The money you earn is not for you alone or your family members. There are others outside your family that God wants you to help or bless. “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Eph 4:28 NKJV). That was why God told the children of Israel not to harvest everything in their farms but deliberately leave some for the poor and foreigners. “It is the same with your grape crop — do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the LORD, am your God” (Lev 19:10 NLT).
God is a generous God; be generous too. “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything. The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Prov 11:24-25 NLT).
7. Work is an avenue for you to use your gifts and talents to the glory of God and for the benefit of humanity. God put man here on earth to manage it on His behalf. He put the first man He created, Adam, in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it (Gen 2:15). Using your gifts and talents will translate to work, which brings glory to God. When you serve others with your gifts and talents, you serve God.
Thomas Edison’s inventions have blessed humanity immensely. During his life, he patented over one thousand inventions, including the electric light bulb, the phonograph, and electric power distribution system. The Greek philosopher, Plato, and Edison have been quoted as saying, “I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.” Plato could have made the statement first.
Use your gifts and talents cheerfully. God is interested in the work you do by using your gifts and talents..
8. Work provides a channel to show your love for God either as a volunteer or paid staff in the house of God. Serving others is equal to serving God; loving others is equal to loving God. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21 NKJV). Heb 6:10 says, “For God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other Christians, as you still do” (NLT).
9. Your destiny is spelt work. You can never fulfill your destiny by miracle. It will always require work. Not even the gospel ministry can be fulfilled by miracle. It always requires work. Jesus said he must be about his Father’s business or work (Luke 2:49). The pursuit of that business was his destiny, and he fulfilled it. On the cross, he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Faith without works is dead (James 2:26). Praying without working is tempting God. It’s not going to work.
10. Work qualifies you for reward – earthly and eternal. Jesus said those who work deserve their pay (Luke 10:7). 1 Tim 5:18 says a similar thing; “Those who work deserve their pay!” (NLT). It is only proper for those who work to receive their reward. There is reward here on earth in form of remuneration, promotion, etc. But God has eternal reward for those who work, especially minister to the spirit of people. He knows everybody’s work and He’s interested in each person’s work.
Conclusion: You are a servant of God whether you’re working in the ministry/ church or you’re working in the hospital, school, government secretariat etc. Understand that God is interested in your work, and is watching how you’re working. If you’re doing eye service, God is looking at you, and wants you to stop it. “You slaves must obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Obey them willingly because of your reverent fear of the Lord” (Col 3:22 NLT). If you’re collecting bribe, defrauding your company or office, abdicating your responsibilities etc., He is watching you, and you should stop it. “See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds” (Rev 22:12 NLT). Don’t just be a Christian in church, be a Christian at work realizing that God is interested in how you do your work, both “secular” and “sacred”. Work with enthusiasm, as if you’re working for the Lord rather than for people.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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