“What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God…We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow” Martin Luther
From the first two chapters of Genesis, we see that people are made for work. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam the job of naming the animals and then caring for the garden. We are not intended to sit around and be lazy.
But, neither can we go to the other extreme and base our identity in our work. We are saved by faith through grace. We cannot do anything to merit salvation. And, while spiritual disciplines are useful as we grow more like Jesus, these works don’t make God love us more. That’s the problem with the “Protestant Work Ethic” – we think that the harder we work, the more God loves us. Although I’ve known my whole life that this isn’t true, I’ve certainly acted like it was. Not only did I try to “work” myself into being loved by God and other people, but I judged other people by what I saw them do.
God’s intention for us is a balance between these two extremes. We are to work, but also take time to rest. We are to work, but not become consumed by our work or believe that our efforts make us more acceptable to God.
Another type of wrong thinking that we sometimes find among Christians is the idea that “church” or “Christian” work has more value than “secular” work. The quote above from Luther supports this. Everything that we do every day should be in service to the Lord Jesus. Whether we work for an employer, in our home, or for a church or ministry, we are working for God. There should be no difference between our work and our church personalities.
Last Tuesday, our family opened The Knitting Nest in our small town. We are excited by the prospect of selling yarn and helping people become better at knitting and crochet, but we also recognize that any interactions we have with the community are a ministry – it should be a natural outgrowth of our faith. Because of that, the pastors and elders of our church came by last week to pray over our little shop. We prayed that it would be financially successful, but mostly that we can be a positive influence in our community. And we’ll be doing it with yarn!