Your Work... Enjoy or Endure?
Would you believe that most Filipinos are satisfied with their work?
That is, if we believe the survey released last April by the SWS or the Social Weather Stations. A sampling of 1,200 persons nationwide revealed that our “job satisfaction is quite high, with 88% of all working adults saying they are satisfied with their main job.” Only 7% of the respondents said they are not satisfied with their jobs.
That is, if we accept that 1,200 people can speak for the entire nation.
Do you agree with this SWS survey? Would you really rate yourself as satisfied with your work?
Personally, I can’t reconcile that with the report that about 2,500 Filipinos leave the country everyday to work abroad. If Filipinos are satisfied, why do they leave the country to work overseas?
But, it is a fact that we spend majority of our lives working. We actually spend up to 70% of our waking hours at work. That’s why it’s important that we enjoy our work rather than endure it.
The Bible gives us the answer. Let’s read Colossians 3:22-4:1 together…
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. (New International Version)
How do these verses relate to work? Don’t think of slaves as people performing menial jobs only like building the pyramid. The slaves during those times were doctors, bankers, engineers and other professionals.
That’s why we believe there are principles from these verses that apply to us in the 21st century. The masters represent the employers and the slaves represent the employees.
Note that it says in verse 23: “work at it with all your heart”. In another translation it says: “let your hearts be in your work”.
First, WE ARE CALLED TO ENJOY WORK.
Is there anything to work other than the pay? Are we doomed to be frustrated at work? Or is it possible to find fulfillment at all? We are called to enjoy work.
When we enjoy work, we will work at it with all our heart. Our heart will be in our work. And how do we know if we enjoy our work? We excel at work.
Jack Nicklaus, one of the best golfers in the world, said: “I firmly believe that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don’t enjoy.”
One of the reasons why we don’t enjoy work is we look at it from a wrong point of view. We look at it as a curse. For some of us it is a burden instead of a blessing. Was work a curse from God?
It is written in Genesis 1:28—“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
We usually think that the only command here was “Go and multiply!” But God also commanded the first man and woman to subdue the earth and rule over everything on earth. That to me was a job description. Even before the curse, there was work. Work was and still is God’s blessing to man. It was not part of the curse.
God even tasked Adam to “work [the Garden of Eden] and take care of it.” God intended for us to work. That was our original design.
When man sinned, the curse was the struggle to earn a living. In Genesis 3:17-19 it says: “And so, the ground will be under a curse because of what you did. As long as you live, you will have to struggle to grow enough food. Your food will be plants, but the ground will produce thorns and thistles. You will have to sweat to earn a living”. (The Message)
Work was supposed to be for our satisfaction. Now it is for survival. Before, work was fulfilling. Now, it became frustrating.
But the original design was not changed. Ecclesiastes 3:22 says: “We were meant to enjoy our work, and that’s the best thing we can do.” (Contemporary English Version) Your work situation may not be ideal. But we are to enjoy work. It is our calling.
In the book “Your Job—Survival or Satisfaction”, Jerry and Mary White wrote: “Work was satisfying. Man was not made to dread labor, but to be fulfilled by the creation of his hands or mind.”
In fact, God was so supportive of our work that in Deuteronomy 8:17-18 it is written: “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…”
When you become successful, don’t say, “I’m rich, and I've earned it all myself.” Don’t forget that it is the LORD who gave you the strength to make a living or the “ability to produce wealth”. Work is very important to God. The Bible mentioned “work” more than 800 times in the Bible, more than all the words for worship, music, praise, and singing. Your work matters to God.
Let’s go back to our passage: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Second, WE HAVE THE CAUSE TO ENJOY WORK. Jesus is the reason why we enjoy work. People think that only pastors are in full-time Christian service. Wrong! All of us are full-time in the ministry. We serve the Lord through our work. Our work is our ministry.
In fact, 1 Timothy 6:1 says: “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” We allow people to slander or dishonor God when we fail to work well.
In the Ten Commandments, we usually say the fourth commandment is only about the Sabbath. But note what Exodus 20:9-10 says: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work”. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Again in the book “Your Job—Survival or Satisfaction” we read these words: “Emphasis is usually placed on resting one day a week. But note that it says, “You shall work six days.” That is a command, not a choice.” That means that we disobey God when we don’t work.
That’s why in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 we are commanded: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.”
It is also written: “Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, The Message)
Thus, since we are serving the Lord through our work, “we are [to] obey [our] earthly masters [or our employers] in everything”. (Colossians 3:22a) What do you mean “in everything”? Let me qualify it. Obedience does not include the illegal. Don’t break the law of the land. So, when your boss tells you to make two books, one for the BIR and the other for the company, don’t. It’s illegal.
Obedience does not include the immoral also. Don’t break the law of the Lord. Before, my wife Ellen worked in a government financing corporation. In their office, they usually have extended lunch breaks. When God convicted Ellen about this issue, she asked forgiveness from her boss. Her boss was so surprised. She said, “Why are you telling me that? It’s OK. Everybody’s doing it.” But even if everybody’s doing it, that doesn’t make it right. As a result, her boss got convicted too. She stopped having extended lunch breaks also. And, seeing the boss changed, the entire department also changed. Its amazing how one step of obedience could change an entire workplace.
So if your company asks you to do that which is right not only in the eyes of the law but much more in the eyes of the Lord, do it.
It also says here that we are to “do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” The Int’l Children’s Bible translated it this way: “Do not obey just when they are watching you, to gain their favor. …serve them honestly, because you respect the Lord.”
Work in such a way that at the end of the day you can say, “I earned my keep.” And you can sleep soundly because you knew you put in a hard day’s work.
First, we are called to enjoy work. Second, we have the cause to enjoy work. Now, let’s look at the passage. “…you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Third, WE WILL BE COMPENSATED WHEN WE ENJOY WORK. The Lord will reward us for serving Him through our work. In Colossians 3:25 we see this warning: “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” In the Greek, the word “repaid” also means “reward.”
Yes, God will make us pay for doing what is wrong. But God will also reward us for doing what is right. When we serve Jesus through our work, we “will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”
Employers, make sure that you pay your workers right and you pay them well. Colossians 4:1 says: “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” So if you are an employer and you are not paying your people right, the Lord will hold you accountable.
But, I’m speaking to the employees, even if you are not paid right, even if you are not paid well, if you serve the Lord through your work, He will reward you. Just imagine. We are already paid salaries here on earth. But the Lord will also compensate you with rewards in heaven.
Let me close with a quote from Martin Luther: “The maid who sweeps kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays, not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
Note: Pastor Cortez preached this sermon in the English Worship Service last May 29, 2005.