Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17

1 Chronicles 24:1-26:11; Romans 4:1-12; Psalm 13:1-6; Proverbs 19:15-16

Did anyone else notice there seemed to be a lot of references to work in our passages today? I know it could be easy to glaze over the riveting account of the divisions of the sons of Aaron in 1 Chronicles, but I think there is actually some good stuff in there.  Here’s what I observed about work in today’s readings:

-Sometimes you don’t get to pick your ideal job, but rather you have to do the “family business.” Being born a Levite in Israel meant you were going to be a priest, or in some type of service to the temple. And you didn’t even get to pick what type of service you wanted to do. “They divided them impartially by drawing lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants” (1 Chr. 24:5).  Some were appointed for ministering in the temple (1 Chr. 24:19), others were set apart for prophecy and music (1 Chr. 25:1), and others to the division of gate keepers (1 Chr. 26:1).

-No matter what job they ended up with according to the lots that were drawn, those Levite men strove to do the job well. We see them thriving in their training for music and the Lord blessing them, and we see the gate keepers as “capable men with the strength to do the work” (1 Chr. 26:8).

-The perspective on work shifts a little in the New Testament as Paul reminds the Romans that their work for the Lord is not what is credited to them as righteousness, but rather their trust (Rom. 4: 4-8). We could never work well enough to deserve salvation. Salvation only comes through belief and faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.

-“Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry” (Prov. 19: 15). Translation: You don’t work, you don’t eat.

As I reflect on these passages, as well as other scriptures that talk about work, I come away with a few encouragements and reminders (here come some more bullet points!):

-We may not love, or even chose, our job, but the Lord is the one who has appointed us to it and we should work at it with all our hearts. The Lord can cause flourishing when we honor him with faithful and honest work. I think of my dear husband who has faithfully worked at a job he does not love and does not use his gifting, for the last 6 years. But his commitment to go to work, and actually do his job well, has caused the support and flourishing of our family. I am grateful to be married to this kind of man.

-I am free from the burden of trying to prove my worthiness to the Lord. It is good to work hard. It is good to do things and perform acts in the name of the Lord. But this is not what saves us. And I cannot use my “works” as a bargaining tool with the Lord. As I wrote in an earlier post, he doesn’t need my legs or my strength, but rather delights in my hope in his unfailing love (see June 29).

-And finally, work is good. We were created to work. Even before the fall in Genesis, we see God command Adam and Eve to work and cultivate the garden. We were created to work. Let us find joy in our work. Let us praise God that he has called us into this service of work, whatever that may be for you and for me, and strive to do it with joy and excellence.

- Mary Matthias

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