Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 37 - Our Work, Our Dignity

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (ESV) - and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

One day, Martin Luther was approached by a working man who wanted to know how he could serve God. Luther asked the man: “What is it that you do now?” to which the man replied, “I am a shoemaker.”

The man was stunned to hear Luther’s response: “Then make good shoes and sell them at a fair price.” 

It is so easy to speak about “the call of God” and think that it refers only to some religious or spiritual activity or profession. The tragedy of that way of thinking is that the few who are pastors or missionaries, monks or priests, take the role of the elite who have a place in the world defined by God, but everybody else is left to live life shuffling around, trying to scrounge a living, hold things together, be somewhat happy, and die with a few good memories people can speak of at their funeral.

God has a different view of things.

“Reimagining our place in God’s plan” includes envisioning the ways in which God uses the ordinary work we do for his purposes in the world. The shoemaker does not need to become a pastor to be “called.” Society needs shoemakers, ironworkers, teachers, engineers, grocery store managers, data entry clerks, cops, cooks, and cleaners. Society needs moms and dads, captains and lieutenants, students and senators.

This is the way God works. It is the dignity of work. It is the meaning of “vocation” (which comes Latin vocare “to call”).

Imagine this: believers in every corner of society—our schools, businesses, legislatures, neighborhoods, the arts, media, and science—bringing the mind of Christ to their work, seeking the common good. This is what Paul meant when he said: “Each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (1 Cor. 7:17).
So if your task today is to make some shoes or raise your kids or analyze some spreadsheets, remember this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Col. 3:23).

PONDER:   What is the equivalent in your life of “make good shoes and sell them at a fair price”?

It is easy for society to look at children - young adults - young singles - and to assume that they have nothing to contribute. This is simply not true. In fact the faith of a child is what Jesus asks for, and children can set an example for people that is both honest and real. In 1 Thessalonians we are told to live “so that our daily life may win the respect of outsiders...” We can pass this truth on to children.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. What might it mean for you to work with your hands? Do you have to do work at school? Do you do chores? What does respect mean? How can you act so that others respect how you are living?

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