I woke up to this Labor Day holiday thankful to be sure, but wrestling with how the world sees work VERSUS how God sees it. And I kept coming back to the tradition of work and its focus on our twin-tower values of hard work and achievement.
I ended up content with that viewpoint being the essence of this holiday we celebrate today. Rest from the toil. Satisfaction in the results. Thankfulness in the fruits.
OK, fair enough…hard work is good and Labor Day is great. But where does God fit into that work paradigm? When do all of the “good” parts of work turn “bad”?
God’s answer came pretty quick: They turn bad when:
- We put work—the means and the ends–ahead of him.
- We never actually see the handiworks of the Lord’s creation
- We do not live out our purpose in Christ and make that our legacy.
- We are so overcharged with stress we cannot say to our best friend, “I love you”
- We go to bed at night in turmoil and sleep with our back to the person we love the most.
That is just a very small sample of a very long list of things that can go wrong when our attitude about work veers from God’s view. But these dangers are very hard to spot when we are shaking in our stress from “the chase” to get rich. That was my life earlier in my faith walk. I didn’t realize that I was paying a huge price for not feeding the spiritual needs in my heart and soul.
“I have learned why people work so hard to succeed…but it’s useless. It’s like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4
SANCTUARY OR PRISON?
Work becomes a prison when it has been considered a sanctuary ahead of our full surrender to Christ. If we look at work as a place of refuge from life—its challenges, trials, and pain—and ignore God, we are on the way to prison for life without the possibility of parole. It may start out ok, but over time we will become an inmate. I know, it happened to me.
The trouble comes when we step away from work and the diversion expires. And it always does. That’s when we enter the prison gates and begin sacrificing opportunities to know God and subordinating everything else that is important in life to our insatiable thirst for work and its rewards.
One of God’s immutable laws is that we can’t create our own sanctuary—through work or anything else that takes over first place in our life like a hobby or relationship or activity we’re passionate about—and live in his inner sanctuary at the same time.
I thought it would be possible to toggle between my work sanctuary and God’s sanctuary, but that bi-focal option does not exist. We can’t be in two places at one time. It’s our sanctuary or God’s sanctuary.