Book Review: Work and Our Labor in the Lord

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I picked up this book last summer when I was up in Kentucky taking classes in seminary.  It seems appropriate that I found time to read it last weekend to kick off Thanksgiving break.  This week has been both a time of rest and contemplation over the gift it is to be able to work out the calling that God has placed on my life.  I know many people that go to work on a daily basis and feel like what they do isn’t really mattering.  The Lord has blessed me and the awesome friends I work with to have the privilege of seeing Him at work in the hearts and minds of the students and families that we serve everyday.  Our work is not in vain when our purpose is in the Lord.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • The stories we tell reveal our understanding of the world, with our hopes and fears, and the songs we sing are poetic crystallizations of the deep longings of our hearts.  The deep longings of our hearts correspond to what we envision as the good life.  Our vision of the good life can be understood as our vision of “the kingdom.” p. 15
  • Work is neither punishment nor cursed drudgery but an exalted, Godlike activity. p. 18
  • At its most basic level, a righteous job is one that does not exist to commit or promote sin but to accomplish the tasks God gave to humanity at the beginning: fill, subdue, rule.  Such work affords everyone who does it the opportunity to image forth the likeness of the one living and true God. p. 22
  • Work continues to point beyond itself, with the character of God being displayed in the way God’s people do their work. p. 33
  • Hope remains because work, though made difficult because of sin and judgement, continues to point beyond itself to God’s character.  The fact that the man and woman are allowed to continue in their work, cursed though it is, means that they still have the job of making the ways of God known in the world.  But the hope for what the work points to is founded on God’s word that indicates that evil will be defeated (Genesis 3:15). p. 37
  • We were made to image God, and we were made to know God.  God made us to reflect his character through his work.  How the character of God is exercised varies with the kind of work we do. p. 44
  • There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.  This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25). p. 50
  • So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot.  Who can bring him to see what will be after him? (Ecclesiastes 3:22) p. 51
  • Work as an expression of love for God:
  1. Work to please God: The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30)
  2. Do all for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  3. Do all in Christ’s name (Colossians 3:17)
  4. Work from your soul for the Lord (Colossians 3:23) p. 85
  • Work as an expression of love for neighbor:
  1. Following Paul’s example of hard work to benefit others (1 Corinthians 9:6-27, 15:10)
  2. To support the ministry (1 Corinthians 9:14, Galatians 6:6)
  3. To share with the needy (Ephesians 4:28)
  4. To live an undisruptive life (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:12)
  5. As a good testimony for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 9:12, 1 Thessalonians 4:12, 1 Timothy 5:14, 6:1, Titus 2:5, 9)
  • Christians contribute to the task of making disciples of all nations by doing good work that gives the faith a good reputation.
  1. Not to burden others (2 Corinthians 11:9, 12:13, 14, 16, 1 Thessalonians 2:9 4:12, 2 Thessalonians 3:8)
  2. In brotherly love that transcends race and status (1 Timothy 6:2, Philemon 16) p. 88
  • “Christians who grasp a biblical theology of work learn not only to value and participate in the work of all people but to also see ways to work distinctively as Christians.” Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (New York: Riverhead, 2014), 149. p. 88

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