It gets a bad rap doesn’t it? For those of us who enjoy our work, it goes beyond a means of support and becomes a rewarding and valuable use of our time. For many others, work is a drudgery, time wasted building the success and pocketbook of someone else. Whether we like our work or not, it will always be a key component to how we spend our time.
But we must get beyond the simple definition of work just being how we support ourselves. It’s much more than that. We were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10) and God has a great purpose for the work he has us doing. It’s not just busy work or a means to fulfill our time. He has amazing things for us to do as we work in his kingdom. God has designed the church for this very important function and we are to spend our Christian walk joyfully performing the tasks he has given us.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
In this parable, Jesus compares the kingdom of Heaven with a vineyard and gives us some insight into the very important work the church must complete here on earth. We also see how God will reward those who do his work, regardless of how many years of their life have been dedicated to his service. From this passage we see that…
- The church is meant to serve God. We have many things in this life that we could consider work. Everything from our paid employment, to mowing the lawn, to ministering to the poor could all be considered work. What makes them all important is that they can all be done in service to the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24). Everything we do in life can be used to glorify God and show our gratitude for his saving grace. We have not been saved because of work, but we’ve been saved for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).
- The church is meant to accomplish God’s work. We have such a great example in Jesus with regard to working for God’s purposes. On several occasions (John 4:34, John 9:4), Jesus made it clear that there was much for him to accomplish for God’s kingdom and he derived his sustenance and strength by doing such work. God has given us the vital task of teaching the world about him by introducing more souls to the church and to the Bible in order to grow his kingdom (Matthew 28:18-20).
- The church is meant to bear fruit. Jesus used the example of a vineyard when speaking his parable because it would have been easily understood by the members of an agrarian society. The sole purpose of sowing a crop is to eventually bear fruit, and the church has the same role today. We are to bear fruit that is worthy of the Lord (Colossians 1:10) so that the world may see and know the one we serve. When the church is working, the fruits of the Spirit should be evident in everything we do (Galatians 5:22-23).
- The church is meant to glorify God. Even if all our work for God goes unnoticed, even if all our efforts go unrewarded here on earth, our primary purpose of working is to bring honor and glory to God. We should always be a light in dark places so that the lost of our generation may have hope that God’s love is real and that it is offered to them as well (Matthew 5:16, John 3:16). God will never forget the work you do for him (Hebrews 6:10). Your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
God is calling all of his followers to be workers in his kingdom. The role you play is vitally important to his overall purpose for mankind. You don’t necessarily have to be a well-studied Bible scholar or vibrant public speaker to be used by God. Just take the talents He’s given you and use them to the best of your ability to honor him.