Wednesday, July 06, 2005

w**k: a nasty four-letter word?

I happen to be in Ecclesiastes in my present trek through the Bible. Though it is clever, wise, and probably contains some of the most-quoted aphorisms in the Bible, I’m not crazy about this book. I find it mainly negative and fatalistic. However, this morning Ecc. 9:10 provided the jumping off point for a great little study of that nasty four-letter reality of life: work.

This advice – "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for (balloon prick here) there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecc. 9:10 NKJV) – is so typical of the glass-half-empty attitude of the "Teacher." But my margin notes led me to other passages on work which were a whole lot more optimistic.

Colossians 3:17: "And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Giving thanks: the same word used as when Jesus was ‘giving thanks’ the food before feeding the multitude and for the Lord’s Supper. It means to be grateful, express gratitude, praise words given to the Godhead.) Work is something for which I can and am expected to give thanks, as Jesus gave thanks for other necessities like physical food and food for the Spirit.

Romans 12:11 – to the list of how to live in a Christ-like way Paul adds, ""Not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." (Fervent: living fervor, fiery hot, full of burning zeal vs. dignified, unemotional, cold.) I can be fervent, zealous, passionate about work.

1 Corinthians 10:31: "Therefore whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I am to do all to the glory of God. If something as trivial as eating and drinking is included, surely my work also falls into that category.

I admit I often don’t feel like following these admonitions. Yesterday morning was one of those days. It felt like Monday to me, and I had a hard time even staying awake at the computer, let alone ratcheting up a sense of thankfulness, zeal and enthusiasm at the possibility of glorifying God.

But that’s the thing about work. You don’t have to like it. You just have to do it. The beauty is, after you’ve done it, you frequently realize you do like it, or at least the feeling of satisfaction you get from having done it.

That was the story of my yesterday. I soldiered on, got the medical letters out of the way and even put a writing submission in the mail. By the end of the day I felt tired, but satisfied and looking forward to the next day. All that, Mr. Ecclesiastes, not because I had no better options. Rather, because through long habit I have learned that to regain thankfulness and fervor, I must fight through lethargy with obedience and faithfulness. More often than not, when I do that, I regain not only those but also the reward of knowing even in these mundane things God is glorified.

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