In my previous post, which can be found here, I started to explore how we can redeem our work. Please do have a thoughtful read of it before you start to read what comes next.
In today’s post I want to think about the second way we can redeem our work, and that is through loving others. Work is one of the primary ways we can love others. Try and think about it this way: our work is one of the primary ways we fulfil what Jesus called the second great commandment:
Love your neighbour as yourself
The way in which God shows Himself in your work is through your work. Let me see if I can explain …
Martin Luther, the German reformer, who was instrumental in breaking down the artificial divide between “sacred” and “secular” work, viewed that in God’s economy, all work done in faith should be seen as a vocation—literally, a call from God on our lives. He said:
“our [vocations] are the masks of God”
What he meant by that was that God is behind your vocation as if it were a mask. God is behind your teaching, your building, your engineering, your administrating etc and through them He is caring and providing for His creation. This is what the Psalmist declared in Psalm 145:
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. 16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Now, none of us have ever gotten anything directly from the physical hand of God. Every blessing we receive we do so through the hands of another. So when say grace before we eat we are rightly thanking God for the food but the food has come to us by the hands of a chef, a delivery driver, a farmer – and countless other people doing what they are called to do. So Luther was right, God is behind your vocation as it were a mask, caring and providing for His creation. And so, the implication for us is that our vocations then become the primary way we love others.
Robert Bellah in his book Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in America Life says
a vocation .. calling .. [is a] contribution to the good of all and not merely .. a means to one’s own advancement
and this includes seeking to prosper the company that you work for
and look out for the interests of others
and striving for their good
and look – if you have this perspective lets consider some questions
For the Christian, the issues of diligence, hard work, faithfulness, showing up early, helping others success are all measure so love. We help our coworkers get higher up the career ladder than we as a measure of love. We don’t leave unfinished paper work to mount up as a measure of love. We protect the reputation of our boss as a measure of love. John Coltrane, jazz saxophonist of the mid 20th century wrote an album called a love Supreme on the record sleeve it says this:
this album is a humble offering to him. an attempt to say thank you god through our work … may he help and strengthen all men in every good endeavour
Coltrane got it! Our work is a way to help and strengthen all men in every good endeavour and it’s the primary way we show love.