by Pete Lee
Wayne Grudem in his book, Business for the Glory of God, says, “As for the relationship of business to serving God, when people ask how their lives can ‘glorify God,’ they aren’t usually told, ‘Go into business.’ When students ask, ‘How can I serve God with my life?’ they don’t often hear the answer, ‘Go into business.’ When someone explains to a new acquaintance, ‘I work in such-and-such a business,’ he doesn’t usually hear the response, ‘What a great way to glorify God!’”
But “secular” work is a great way to glorify God because work is good, in and of itself. Before we examine 7 ways to glorify God at work, we need recognize that sin has tainted work. How? First, the Fall made work difficult. Gen 3:17-19 says, “...Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it...Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you...By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread." Notice that God commanded Adam to work before the Fall (Gen 1:28; 2:15) and that He did not curse work but the ground which made the world less productive and made work difficult. Second, the Fall made co-workers and the world difficult to work for (Eph 2:1-3). Third, we do not naturally want to work according to God’s design because of our sinful nature.
Despite the external and internal difficulties mentioned above, here are 7 ways to glorify God at work. First, serve the Lord and not men (Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-25). Both of these passages emphasize that we need to serve our employers from the heart, fearing the Lord. We should not work with external politeness while grumbling in our hearts. We should work for the Lord consciously trying to glorify God in whatever we do.
Second, we should work with integrity and contentment regardless of our job or salary (Luke 3:12-14). John the Baptist exhorts tax collectors and soldiers to be content with their wages and be honest. These were some of the lowest paying jobs in that society which may be why many people often abused their authority for dishonest gain. John does not tell them to get new jobs but to be content with what God has provided (1 Cor 7:17-24). We need to remember that work is not for accumulating material wealth or worldly significance (Matt 6:19-24; Luke 12:16-21). Instead, we are to work to provide for our needs (1 Tim 5:8) and to share with others (Eph 4:28).
Third, we should work with peaceful hearts, knowing that God will provide for our needs (Matt 6:25-34; Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:7). We should not worry about getting fired, a promotion, or a raise. We should not worry about deadlines, “important” projects, or any other trial at our job. We need to resist the temptation to allow the circumstances at work to determine the condition of our heart.
But what if your co-workers make your life miserable? Remember that you may be the only Christian your co-workers ever see. Will you bless those who persecute you and trust in God’s promises? Will you exemplify the peace, compassion, and gentleness of Christ to others?
Fourth, we should work with honesty (Prov 11:1, 21:6 , 28:6, 8; Titus 2:9-10). We must work with integrity in how we handle money, supplies, and our time at work.
Fifth, we can glorify God at work by working hard, with discipline, and with wisdom (Prov 10:5, 14:23, 24:30-34, 28:19, 31:13-16; 2 Thess 3:5-15). We should not be lazy but examples to all of a good work ethic.
Sixth, we should work with submission, whether to Christian bosses or cruel and unfair bosses (1 Tim 6:1-2; 1 Pet 2:18-25). God promises to look favorably upon us when we patiently endure unreasonable demands by our bosses as long as we are doing what is right. Christ is our model who suffered unjustly for us, trusting God’s righteous judgment. God can receive glory when we have a job we like, making more money than we’ve ever made before, with a great boss and co-workers. But when we get fired for something we didn’t do wrong, or when we get unjustly treated at work by our boss, how much more is God glorified by our peaceful, content submission amidst the most harrowing circumstances?
You may be the only Christian to ever work for your supervisor. Will you submit to your employer with a good attitude to all unreasonable demands? Will you complain when things are unjust or unfair?
Lastly, if we are bosses, we should treat our employees with fairness (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1). We should not abuse our authority and imitate God who is just, fair, patient, and gentle, knowing that God will judge us for our actions.
In conclusion, please examine your heart and life to see if there might be an area where you struggle to glorify God. Pray for God’s help in that area, seek advice, and develop a strategy to improve. Work is a good gift from our gracious God and savior. Let us work for God’s glory no matter what we do for work.