Work for God is the outworking of our worship, our surrender and obedience. It’s a here and now imperative. Do we honour God with the limited time we have?
I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:4)
These words, spoken by Jesus two thousand plus years ago, ring with an urgency that is critically relevant in our lives today. Like so many generations before us, we’re lulled into a false sense of complacency. Countless generations have come and gone without ‘the end’ appearing, so why should our generation be any different. Christ still tarries, and we’ll no doubt see death before we see the coming of our Lord. There’s no real rush, no impetus, to work for God with urgency and zeal.
To work for God is an always and right now imperative.
If we claim to live with Jesus as our example, today’s verse should be a daily motivation. While the bigger picture may well be end times – in which we undoubtedly are living – it’s a daily ‘must.’ The heart of the matter is our personal work for God. It’s a challenge to each and every single believer to take a long, hard look at our commitment and obedience to our individual calling.
My personal belief is that our universe is escalating rapidly towards a climactic end. That, in itself, should inject an urgency into our lives and work for God. But it’s equally true that each of our lives is moving towards and end. Death and moving on from this world is inevitable. Our lives have a limited time span and our eternal destiny will have no relevance on earth. Once life here is done, it’s done. There are no ‘do-overs’ and no second chances. We don’t work for God in heaven. Our only opportunity to obey His command to ‘go’ is right here, right now.
We must work for God, just as Jesus did.
It’s time for every believer to step willingly into the yoke with Christ. Our works are the outworking of our faith and obedience. If the Son of God declared that He must work, we must follow His example. Too many Christians side step the issue with stereotypical excuses. ‘Works don’t earn salvation.’ ‘Few are chosen,’ meaning we’re not one of them. ‘I’m not ready.’ There are any number of suitably spiritual-sounding reasons why we don’t work for God.
The real truth, however, is that ‘work’ is a four-letter word. It rubs against the grain of comfortable Christianity and challenges our spiritual complacency. We’re so focused on the feel-good aspects of our faith that we close our eyes to the commands of Christ. It’s easy to believe that if we don’t do it, God will find someone who will. But Christ’s command to every single believer is to ‘go.’ Our work for God isn’t optional. Like Jesus, we must work the works of Him who sent us.
Work for God is not defined by ‘visible’ ministries.
We’re so caught up in the media and internet which provide any number of highly visible ministries. Our perception is all too easily skewed towards assuming that this is work for God. We somehow imagine that to fulfil this command, we must be ‘out there’ and visible and have a larger-than-life ministry. But those Jesus chose as His disciples were simple fishermen or tax collectors. Ordinary people like you and I. Yes, He does sometimes choose people, like Paul, and ordain them for bold, high-powered ministry. There will always be people whose work for God is in the limelight.
But that doesn’t exclude or excuse every single one of us from doing our work for God. We don’t have to be a prophet or an evangelist. We also don’t have to ‘know how to preach’ or have a deliverance ministry. ‘Traditional’ church doctrines have created a false understanding of ministry. It’s not something for a select few. We don’t have to study for it, be ordained in it, or even be recognised for it. Our work for God is a personal obedience to Him alone. It is honouring God in whatever He calls us to do. Our works manifest our faith and obedience.
Our work for God is what we are created for and part of our worship.
We have a tendency to separate worship from work, which is entirely incorrect. Obedience is arguably the greatest act of worship because it requires complete surrender of self. It’s true that work cannot replace worship. But when we obey because we love God and desire to please Him in all things, thanks worship. The actual work is simply an opportunity to worship.
Our primary purpose is to worship God. That’s what we were created for. But we must never lose sight of the truth that He also created good works for us to walk in. Our intimacy with God should transform us into the image of Christ – as we diminish when we lay down self, His nature increases. Each of us, as a part of His body, has a particular task or purpose. Unless each of us obeys our unique calling to work for God, Christ’s body remains ‘lopsided’ or incomplete. We can ‘worship’ until the cows come home. But if it doesn’t manifest in obedience – work for God – it’s simply talk, not walk. The two must operate together.
Procrastination is the enemy of our work for God.
‘I meant to do it’ is a common lament. We start the week with good intentions, but before we know it, the weekend rolls around and half our list remains unticked. Today becomes tomorrow becomes the day after. We drift along with the desire but not the impetus. Procrastination is even more destructive in our work for God because it can so easily be justified. We need to know the Bible better. Our prayer life needs to improve. We can’t help that person because there are too many distractions. When things settle down, we’ll find a moment when they’re more ‘approachable.’
On one hand, procrastination is simply an excuse to side step our responsibilities. On the other, it masquerades as a genuine spiritual attitude – a real desire to prepare and do our best. But it obscures the simple truth that we’re commanded to ‘go.’ Not when we’re ready, or feel like it, or when the time is right. Go means go. Now. Today.
Understanding what our work for God really means.
We lose ourselves in the misunderstanding that our work for God means we do the work. Opportunities are lost because we acknowledge our inability and hold back. The reality is that our work for God is never something we can do in and of ourselves. A God-sized assignment is one only He can do. He reveals His power, majesty, and glory through people stepping out in faith. Our obedience releases His supernatural abilities.
The misunderstanding comes about when we look at worship and work for God as two separate things. Instead, they are intertwined. Worship inspires obedience. Obedience releases God’s supernatural power. This release in turn inspires deeper worship. They simply cannot be separated. This is beautifully illustrated in the life of Christ. He lived to work the works of Him who sent Him. He was completely obedience to the Father’s will and told us that He did only what the Father commanded Him to do. But Jesus was completely man, just like you and I. I didn’t work for God in His own strength but by the Spirit.
Work for God means using time, abilities, and opportunities well.
Whatever God has given us is intended for His glory. Who and what we are is what God gave us to bring glory to Him. Many of the parables contain reminders that we ought to use it well. Not using it is squandering it and diminishing God’s glory. Seeking first the kingdom of God means setting aside our own inhibitions, reservations, and inadequacies. It means settling aside self in obedience and using every opportunity to work for God.
Like many others, I have learnt first-hand that we cannot depend on ‘tomorrow.’ Lives are cut short when we least expect. There is no guarantee that we will have tomorrow, let alone next week. The moment lost today is gone forever. The Bible makes it clear that we will all be judged according to our work for God. What we do – how much we obey – won’t determine our place in eternity. But it will determine our reward. This isn’t because works are more important than anything else. It’s because they are the outworking of our obedience, which is surrender and worship.
Our work for God is a holy duty.
Looking at it from this perspective, it cuts through all the excuses we so easily conjure to avoid having to work for God. God was able to say He was well pleased with His Son because Christ was totally obedient. His entire life was one of total worship and surrender, epitomised by His obedience in His work for God. If we have the courage to be honest, can we truly believe that our work for God will earn our greatest reward in heaven: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’ (Matthew 25:21)
Our night is coming when we can no longer work. Today, now, this moment may be all we have to honour Him with.
Forgive us, Father, for procrastinating and avoiding Your command to obey. Help us to work for You with willing hearts and a zeal for Your glory. Draw us close to Your heart so we may learn to love You as Jesus did, without thought for Himself. Show us Your opportunities and empower us to step out in faith at Your command so that our worship will be complete, bringing honour and glory to You.