Does working for God AND God working miracles go together?
What does the Bible say about working for God?
What is doing the work of God all about?
These days, ‘work’ may be a dirty word, but even in the perfect Garden of Eden, the Lord expected Adam and Eve to work, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” [Genesis 2:15 ESV]
It was only when they rebelled against God that work became hard and a struggle.
So, right from the beginning, God expected humanity to work and in that, we can achieve satisfaction.
King Solomon confirms this thought:
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 ESV
also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.“
1. Not working for God to earn our salvation
Whatever work we do, whether that is as a carer, a business owner, a mother, a pupil or student, a welcomer at church, a factory operative, a cleaner, an astronaut, etc, we should be aware that the Lord is watching and He does not want us to pretend to work:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…”Colossians 3:23 ESV
And this proverb backs this thought up:
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”Proverbs 14:23 ESV
But all this work is not designed to show God how good we are.
We are spiritually blind if we think that we can obey God’s Laws to become righteous and get rewarded by heaven’s door being opened to us.
The apostle Paul puts it this way:
if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”Galatians 2:21 ESV
If we could get righteous by our goodness, then why did Jesus die as the ‘Lamb of God’ as a sacrifice for our sins?
Paul explains further:
For God has done what the law weakened by the flesh could not do.Romans 8:3-4 ESV
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
We have not got a hope of working for God to earn our salvation.
We rely entirely upon God’s mercy, forgiveness, love and grace.
Grace is something which we do not deserve, but God, because He is God is going to save us because of our faith in Jesus to save us:
For by grace you have been saved through faith.Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast.”
But notice, even this faith has been given to us, it is a gift from God, so reach out and humbly accept this gift.
2. Not working for God to get a gold star
Does the following verse mean that we need to become a minister of Religion?
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
No, a cleaner, a bricklayer, etc, can rejoice at that verse, because if the Lord has placed them in that role, then their work in the Lord is not in vain.
We are not working for God with the motivation that if I do £1 of work I will receive £5 back.
Our motivation is not our reward but to please the Lord.
That does not mean we will not be rewarded:
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”Hebrews 6:10 ESV
And keeping this in mind, what the apostle Paul said:
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”Acts 20:35 ESV
We do not work with the intention of showing God how good we are.
He sees our every move and He knows our innermost thoughts and He knows how weak we are.
Look at how Jesus had compassion for the people of his time – apart from the arrogant and jealous religious leaders!
Jesus stooped to the lowest in society, he touched the lepers and talked with the outcasts.
3. How to work for God effectively in paid employment
The Lord expects us, if we are physically and mentally well enough, to work and not be a burden on society:
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”1 Timothy 5:8 ESV
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”Ephesians 4:28 ESV
But, we must not make working to buy things our goal in life. Jesus said:
Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.John 6:27 ESV
For on him, God the Father has set his seal.”
The apostle Paul praised the church at Thessalonica for their love for one another and then he said:
But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 ESV
A secular job is not inferior to being clergy or a minister of religion.
Working in an office, factory, etc, is probably somewhere a vicar or minister cannot go.
And conversely, a minister can go to places where a secular worker cannot go.
These occupations have nothing to do with a spiritual ladder of importance that we need to climb to get nearer to God.
4. Noah working for God and with God
Good, honest hard work is part of God’s plan for our lives, and when the Ark had been completed God expected Noah to look after all the animals in his care.
See How long did Noah’s flood last? from God’s warning to them leaving the Ark.
But also notice that it is the Lord who will make the animals come to Noah!
You are to bring into the Ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.Genesis 6:19-20 NIV
Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.”
The creatures ‘will come to you’.
He didn’t say: “Go out and catch two of every animal”, because that would have been an impossible task.
But it wasn’t all miraculous, the Lord expected Noah to work hard.
You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten, and store it away as food for you and for them.”Verse 21 NIV
What does that mean for us?
Well, it won’t be all wonders, so that we sit back and everything drops into place without us lifting a finger.
No, it does involve hard work, but it will also include God’s power.
Paul perfectly expresses this:
To this end I labour, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.”Colossians 1:29 NIV
5. Working with God and being a co-worker
Therefore, my beloved as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.Philippians 2:12-16 ESV
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life…”
Thinking of the verse where Paul says: “To this end I labour, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” [Colossians 1:29].
Paul laboured and worked very hard.
He had many sleepless nights, was often exhausted, and often he was beaten for preaching a message.
But Paul was not alone, God’s energy and power were within him.
Paul wrote that they were:
Co-workers with God“1 Corinthians 3:9
Labourers with God.
And so can also be co-workers with the Lord.
In that same passage, Paul explains that we have different skills and gifts, so we use them in His work, but it is God who causes them to grow.
Do you ever look around at people and see so many different skills?
It’s easy to get depressed and think: ‘I am not like so and so, they’re so musical’.
Or, ‘They’re so good with figures.’
But if I had a brain like Einstein’s, what choice did I have?
It would have been given to me by our Creator God, a gift!
Okay, I could encourage and stretch the boundaries of my mathematical brain by studying, etc, but if I hadn’t been given the capacity to do that in the first place, then I couldn’t be an Einstein.
So, we’ve got nothing to be proud of.
These things are given to us.
And because God gives out these gifts, He knows which ones you require for the task, that He is asking you to do.
He hasn’t forgotten to give you what you will need.
How many times, have you gathered all the tools and equipment together for a D.I.Y. job, then you start it, only to find you’ve forgotten the tape measure, or whatever!
But the Lord is not like that. He is perfect.
He has given you everything you need, to accomplish the task He is expecting you to do.
As believers, we should have a strong desire to do His work, and to please Him in everything we do.
So, we are labourers with God.
Not that we are equals with God in this task.
When we are involved in something, where we say or do the right thing, we often feel proud. We so easily get puffed up!
But the Lord can speak through a dumb animal to get His message across if He so desires.
As in the story of Balaam, (in Numbers 22), where God spoke through a donkey, to restrain the madness of Balaam the prophet.
God can use anybody or anything.
He delights in choosing the weak, the despised, and the lowly to do His work.
He loves those who humbly turn to him for help. Paul wrote:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;1 Corinthians 1:27
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no-one may boast before Him.”
Remember what Jesus said to his disciples:
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”John 4:34 ESV
Let’s pick up what God has given us, and use it in serving the Lord, working with the Lord, not being afraid of hard work, and realising that God works mightily within us.
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Hammering cartoon image: thanks to Serif WebPlus 6.