"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work." – John 9:4
Long ago before God called me into the ministry, even before I was a Christian, I worked as a clerk in a sporting goods store . On our mid-morning breaks most of us went down to a doughnut shop on the next block, and it was there I met a certain well dressed, friendly man; at least he was friendly to me as soon as he found out where I worked.
For more than a week that fellow hung around the doughnut shop and talked to me and several of my co-workers. Finally we realized that he was making a deliberate effort to befriend only the people who worked in our store. We speculated about his motives. Someone suggested that he might be some kind of investigator. Another clerk with a morbid imagination said he must be "casing the store in order to rob us."
It wasn’t long before we found out what that man was up to. He was a union organizer, and he wanted all the clerks in our store to join his union. He told us how making our store a union store would really help us. We wouldn’t have to work the 56-hour weeks anymore. Together we could demand more money for our work. Furthermore, we could get more benefits. According to him, our boss was making an excessive amount of profit, and we were no more than "wage slaves," working under indecent conditions.
Perhaps you’ll find it strange that none of us wanted to join that union! We didn’t have anything against unions, but we didn’t feel that we needed one. We didn’t think of ourselves as "wage slaves." There were about 60 of us working in that store, and we were all on a first-name basis with the boss. Many of us had been to his home, and we knew he didn’t live on any grand scale as compared to the rest of us. It was true that we worked 56 hours a week, but we knew that the boss worked a 70-hour week. According to all that we knew about wages, ethics and the way to treat employees; we were being treated in a better-than-proper manner. So, we turned down the opportunity to organize because we didn’t feel the need to negotiate against our employer. And we continued to serve him well and work hard because it was our duty as good employees.
After I became a Christian, I continued to work in that same store another year and a half before I went away to Bible College . From the very beginning, I knew that my work for the Lord was to present the Gospel and to facilitate that transaction whereby people receive Christ and pass from death unto life. During that year and a half I spent six days a week waiting on customers, presenting merchandise and facilitating sales, but I spent seven days a week waiting on the Lord. God gave me a new spirit with an energy that I never had before. I was a more diligent clerk in the store, and more thoughtful to my fellow workers. The boss recognized my increased value and gave me several promotions. But so far as I was concerned, my work was for God, and if I served my earthly employer well, it was only because I recognized that in so doing, I was obeying my ultimate employer, God.
If you stop to think about it, every Christian has an employer/employee relationship with the Creator. Whether we work in a store, a factory or an office, whether we’re retired or in school, whatever our station in life, if we’re Christians, we are servants and workers for God. Our job is to proclaim His truth and salvation through word and deed. It’s never temporary, and we’re always on call. God is our ultimate Employer, no matter what else we do, and He deserves our complete allegiance and loyalty.
No one has ever suggested that we Christians form a union to negotiate with our Heavenly Employer. He always has our best interests at heart and will never take advantage of us. Some of us work more hours for God, others fewer. Some of us are diligent; others are indolent. Some, though very dedicated to the task, seem to accomplish less; some may find serving the Lord easier and may accomplish more.
Working conditions may vary, but few of us have real cause to complain. Sometimes God’s servants are comfortable, and other times discomfort goes with the position. Our work manual and job description, the Bible, teaches us how to cope. As the Apostle Paul put it, he knew how to be "abased," and he knew how to "abound."
Then, too, some Christians might be tempted to complain about the wages ‘What am I getting out of this?" But when we consider the wages God’s competitor Satan is paying (the wages of sin are death), then the recompense for a life of faith doesn’t look too small.
Remember, too, there’s a special bonus coming on that final payday!
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." I Corinthians 2:9
The Apostle Paul is quoting here from Isaiah 64:4. Instead of the word "love," Isaiah used the Hebrew word ‘chakah," translated "to wait," meaning to be earnestly alert. In our service to God we are not to wait passively, but we are to be present and alert in the way that a clerk in a store waits on customers.
So far as the hours are concerned, I, for one, don’t mind putting in a little “overtime." After all, I’ll have all eternity for recreation and rest. And I have a deep-down conviction that I’ve got the best work, the best benefits and the best Employer in the universe. We don’t need to organize a union; we already are one. We don’t need to be self-seeking, because our Employer cares for us.
There are some Christians who are not aware of what working for God requires of them, and they are equally unaware of all the benefits our ultimate Employer bestows. They are missing the joy of association and fellowship. They are missing the sense of achievement that comes with serving the Savior. They are missing the eternal benefits that accrue to the diligent servants of Christ, because they’d rather have their comforts and pleasures and benefits now. Only what’s done for Christ will last, and the wise person will invest his soul and his substance in serving the Savior.
And now, dear reader, for whom and for what do you spend most of your time and energy? After you have rendered your earthly employer what is due him, are you working for your own pleasures? Or are you working for God? Remember, God has a profit-sharing plan!
"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" − Matthew 16:26
Of course, no Christian will lose his soul, but he might not make much of an eternal profit either.