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Work is Ministry: Simple Cautions

For centuries, this notion has been deeply ingrained in Christianity—work/job/business is secular and Christian ministry is spiritual. This led many to consider that ministry is a spiritual activity, a life lived for God, but work is a secular thing, a life lived for oneself. Consequently, the Christian workers are viewed as the most blessed people, for they are called to serve God, while the believers who hold jobs are simply the ordinary ones.

Fortunately, this perspective is now slowly changing.[1] I am glad to see a revival in the marketplace (workplace) today, emphasizing that work is not secular but spiritual, and it is also a ministry to the Lord. Praise God!

As good and necessary this teaching is, however, it ought to be taught with utmost balance, particularly considering certain cautions, for when God moves, Satan too moves. Where the wheat is sown, the devil tries to sow the weeds as well. When good is desired to be spread, evil seeks to lurk beneath it.

So, what are the cautions we need to consider to avoid certain blunders?

Caution 1
Since work is also a ministry, which is Biblically true, a working believer may subtly justify himself for not being actively involved in church ministry, evangelism and missions. He may be completely absorbed in his work, reasoning "Is not work a ministry to the Lord?" and neglect the Great Commission of our Lord. There is a high possibility for spiritual lethargy and negligence toward missions to creep into the believers, for it is more comfortable to stay in a job than to suffer in a mission field. If some are required to go to missions, they may say, "Is not my work a service to the Lord, so why should I think about going elsewhere as a missionary?"

Well, we know from God’s word that some of His people are called to devote themselves to missions, leaving jobs that confines them to a particular place and getting involved in planting churches and making disciples.[2] Therefore, the missionary movement should not suffer in our zeal to spread the word that work is a ministry. Challenge to consider foreign missions (national or overseas) should not decline due to belief that work is a ministry to the Lord.

Although the Holy Scripture mentions that work should be done as a service to the Lord (Col. 3:23-24; Eph. 6:5-6), even a cursory reading of the entire New Testament makes one to grasp its prime emphasis, which is – preaching the gospel of Jesus, making disciples, planting churches and edifying the body of Christ for the glory of God. Although Paul mentioned in Acts 20:34 about working with his own hands to supply his own needs, his passion was obviously evident in 20:24, "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

Don't you suppose this should be the passion of God’s children in whichever field they are placed? I think, every Christian in the workplace should be God's missionary, passionate to spread the kingdom of God through the gospel of Christ Jesus.

Hence, this wonderful movement in the marketplace, that work is a ministry to the Lord, should challenge believers to be faithful and diligent in their jobs or business, to live a blameless life, to shine as God’s witnesses, to become active in church ministry and to spread the kingdom of God by preaching the gospel and making disciples of Christ. But a believer who believes that his/her work is a ministry to the Lord and neglects other aspects of Christian/mission/church responsibilities has been deceived by the Enemy of our soul.

Caution 2
Since work is a ministry to the Lord, a believer may use this belief to have his focus on work only to procure more money and possessions with a purpose to live a more comfortable life on earth. This temptation is great among those who are in white-collar jobs with a good paycheck.[3]

Now, there is nothing wrong in earning money and buying possessions to meet the essential needs of our life. It is no evil in moderately enjoying at times some earthly comforts. However, we know that our hearts can easily be obsessed with such things, going beyond needs to pursue our untamed wants. We need to understand that our heart is deceptive above all things and we can use a good belief as a means to gratify our selfish ambitions. We may easily pay lip service to the belief 'work is a ministry to the Lord' but our ulterior motive may be to seek comfort zone and cozy lifestyle.

It is important, therefore, that a believer is led by the following biblical principles as he/she works or does business:
• 1Co 7:31, "Those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away."

• 1Ti 6:6-10, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it….. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

• 1Pe 2:11, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul."
Furthermore, I believe, the belief that work is ministry should help believers to become good stewards of God’s blessings on earth. This should lead them to be wise in how they spend money on themselves, to be generous in giving to the missions and to be kind in helping the poor and needy. This ought to motivate them to be passionate for God’s will to be done and His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Those who live this way prove to be Christ-centered and kingdom-minded. O, such are the ones who will make a tremendous difference in the marketplace for the glory of the Living God!

Finally, dear child of God, if you sincerely examine your heart in the light of Holy Spirit, how do you judge yourself in this regard?

[1] In fact, this transformation began in the reformation period and in Puritan movement.
[2] Of course, Paul worked and earned his living, though he had a right to be supported by the churches. This is a wonderful ministry but this does not mean everyone itinerant worker should do the same, for there were other apostles who were receiving support from the churches (1Cor. 9:5-6).
[3] Christian workers too are not immune from this temptation where ministry can become a means to earn money and indulge in earthly comforts.



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