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Work and Rest

I am a full-time professional and a business person, so I let work occupy a significant part of my life, for the time being at least.

We should never look at our work life as something entirely separate or even contradicting to our spiritual life. Work life is an integrated part of our spiritual life. What we do at our job is important because it is an important way God has chosen to accomplish through us many things while we are on earth.

On the other hand, we need to look at our work with a spiritual eye, and be careful not to give the job we do more credit than it deserves.  I’m afraid that regardless of how important your work may seem today, you’re not going to find the direct outcome of your work in eternity.

But what does exactly come from our work that endures?  We made clear above that it is not the outcome of our hands that will endure.

There are several important aspects.

AN ENDURING OUTCOME:   It is the work of God’s hand through us that will last.  In addition to benefiting others, one also harvests character including faithfulness, obedience, responsibility, and respectfulness that comes forth from the person who is doing good work.  I have never met a spiritual person who is not diligent.  Regardless of what kind of work you do, work ethics as the world may call it actually has a deep relationship with your character.

As we do everything for the Lord and in the Lord, the yield of character will endure the test of fire and last into eternity. As a child of God, the spiritual life that God builds in you endures because you are a child of God, not because of the work you did.  But the work you do is an agent used by God to build something that’s eternal in you.

PRACTICAL MEANING OF “TENT MAKING”: In addition, for most of us who are not, or have not been, called into a full-time ministry, work also fulfills God’s will for us to make a living, take care of the family and support others who are in a full-time ministry.  Paul said, “if one will not work, he shall not eat.”  It is one thing that one could not find work to do, but it is quite another if one simply refuse to work due to laziness. The concept of Christian “tent making” is still as valid today as it was in Apostle Paul’s time.

NECESSARY HUMILITY:  Finally, there is also a humbling aspect of doing work.  Due to our fallen nature in flesh, labor through good work is a safe way to keep us from trouble.  God originally cursed this land (a passing land) in Genesis for a good reason.  For Christians, this cursing is lifted by Christ’s resurrection in a spiritual and eternal sense, but its function of teaching and training is still full of practical meaning for our temporary lives on earth.

What about rest then?

In an ultimate sense, we will not find rest on this earth.  Our rest is not until our Lord returns.  In the midst of all our activities, however, God desires that we come into rest in Him so that we may learn to enjoy Him even while we are on earth.

Because of this, a Christian should learn that our rest, even in a temporal sense, is not, and does not need to be, based on the worldly passions and entertainment.

I relate to this with my own experience.  For many years, I had such passion on photography that my mind focused intensively on the perfection of pictures, skills and equipment.  My mood relied on that too.  It was entertainment all right, but no rest at all.  It in fact brought me more agony than joy, until I learned how to harness the temptations of perfectionism and turned all that into a modest tool to do just a useful thing.

How boring it may sound.  But the Lord knows that I am happy with what have become.

As we try to attain a more balanced life, let us always remember this:  Many things are not prohibited, but not all things are profitable.  The biggest enemy of the best is often the good, not the bad.