Work is a blessing, not a curse.Thank God it’s Monday! Bridge the Sunday gap to Monday.Bridge the Sacred and Secular divide.Work is a ministry, not just a job.Work as Worship – work is more than a paycheck.Receive blessings from God and be a blessing at work.Keep an empty seat for Jesus at work – a reminder to invite Jesus to intervene, integrate our faith at work.Take Jesus to work – don’t leave Jesus at home. Don’t lock Jesus outside of your office.Embrace and enjoy our work with God’s 5P blessings – His Presence, Power, Promises, Provisions, Pleasant surprises.
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44: Breaking the bonds of exploitation (Acts 16:16-19)

Scripture ReadingActs 16:16-19

In Philippi, Paul and Silas encounter a girl with a spirit of divination. In the Greco-Roman context, this type of spirit was associated with fortune-telling—a connection that “brought her owners a great deal of money” (Acts 16:16). This seems to be an example of the grossest form of economic exploitation. When Paul acts, the result is spiritual liberation for the girl and financial loss for her owners. The owners respond by dragging Paul and Silas before the authorities, on charges of disturbing the peace.

This incident demonstrates powerfully that the ministry of liberation Jesus proclaimed in Luke 4 can run counter to at least one common business practice, the exploitation of slaves. Businesses that produce economic profit at the expense of human exploitation are in conflict with the Christian gospel. Paul and Silas were not on a mission to reform the corrupt economic and political practices of the Roman world, but the power of Jesus to liberate people from sin and death cannot help but break the bonds of exploitation. There can be no spiritual liberation without economic consequences. Paul and Silas were willing to expose themselves to ridicule, beating and prison in order to bring economic liberation to someone whose sex, economic status, and age made her vulnerable to abuse.

If we look ahead two thousand years, is it possible that Christians have accommodated to, or even profited from, products, companies, industries, and governments that violate Christian ethical and social principles? It is easy to rail against illegal industries such as narcotics and prostitution, but what about the many legal industries that harm workers, consumers, or the public at large? What about the legal loopholes, subsidies, and unfair government regulations that benefit some citizens at the expenses of others? Do we even recognize how we may benefit from the exploitation of others? In a global economy, it can be difficult to trace the conditions and consequences of economic activity. The book of Acts does not give principles for gauging economic activity. But it does demonstrate that economic matters are gospel matters.

Prayer: Jesus, I don’t want to contribute to exploitation. Help me to understand the economic consequences of my actions. Show me how I can work for the liberation of others. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read The Community of the Spirit Confronts the Brokers of Power (Acts 16 and 19) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

43: Your work matters to God (John 1:1–5,14)

Scripture ReadingJohn 1:1–5,14

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1) The majestic opening of John’s Gospel shows us the limitless scope of the Word’s work. He is the definitive self-expression of God, the one through whom God created all things in the beginning. He stretches out the cosmos as the canvas for the expression of God’s glory.

The Word is working; and because his work began in the beginning, all subsequent human labor is derived from his initial labor. Derived is not too strong a word, because everything people work with was created by him.

John’s Gospel is not grounded in separating the spiritual versus the material, or the sacred versus the spiritual, or any other dualism. It does not portray salvation as the liberation of the human spirit from the shackles of the material body. Jesus’ followers are not called to abandon some sort of “secular” world in order to enter a “spiritual” one. Instead, Jesus calls his followers to receive and use the power of God’s spirit in the present world. He came to restore the world to the way God intended it to be, not to lead an exodus out of the world.

If further evidence for God’s ongoing commitment to the creation is needed, we may turn to John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” The incarnation is not the triumph of the spirit over the flesh, but the fulfillment of what the flesh was created for in the beginning. And the flesh is not a temporary base of operations, but the Word’s permanent abode. If the world in general is of such immense concern to God, it stands to reason that the work done within that world matters to him as well.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for being the Word made flesh. You came to restore the world to the way God intended it to be, not to lead an exodus out of the world. May my work bless your work of restoration today. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read In the Beginning Was the Word (John 1:1-18) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

42: The importance of generosity (Luke 12:30–34)

Scripture ReadingLuke 12:30–34

Market economies are predicated upon the generation, exchange and accumulation of privately owned wealth. This reality is so deeply embedded in many societies that the pursuit and accumulation of personal wealth has become, for many, an end in itself. But Jesus does not see the accumulation of wealth as a proper end in itself: he indicates that wealth must be used with a deep concern for neighbors.

Jesus’ first problem with wealth is that it tends to displace God in the lives of wealthy people: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). Jesus wants people to recognize that their lives are defined not by what they have, but by God’s love for them and his call upon their lives. Luke expects us — and the work we do — to be fundamentally transformed by our encounters with Jesus.

Perhaps wealth’s most insidious effect is that it can prevent us from desiring a better future. If you are wealthy, things are good as they are now. Change becomes a threat rather than an opportunity.

God’s secret weapon is generosity. If by God’s power you can be generous, wealth begins to lose its grip on you. It is much harder for the rich to be generous, but Jesus teaches how generosity might be possible for them too. One crucial path to generosity is to give to people who are too poor to pay you back. Generosity that earns favors in return is not generosity but favor-buying. Real generosity is giving when no payback is possible, and this is what is rewarded in eternity. Generosity allows room for God to be your God.

Prayer: Jesus, grow me in sincere generosity toward others. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Jesus and Wealth in the Book of Luke from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

41: The call to love at work (Mark 12:28–31)

Scripture ReadingMark 12:28–31

Seeing that Jesus is skilled at interpreting scripture, a scribe asks him a question that was under contention among Jewish leaders. “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answers with two commandments that would be well known to his listeners. The first is a declaration to the Jewish people from Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” Then he quotes Leviticus 19:18: ”You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If there are just two tasks God wants us to concentrate on more than any other they are loving God and loving those around us. Work can be one of the primary ways we respond to the Great Commandment. Yet many people fail to recognize that work can be a way of loving others. Many jobs give Christians an opportunity to fulfill the basic needs of another person. Take health care: a doctor who writes a prescription, a pharmacist who fills that prescription, and the person who stocks the shelves at the pharmacy all play a role in delivering necessary health services to their neighbors. Further up and down the supply chain we see the invaluable work of scientists who test the effectiveness of medical interventions, construction workers who maintain the roads along which medication travels, and case workers who process health insurance claims.

But human needs do not only include healthcare. People also need food, shelter, laughter, and connection to meaning greater than themselves. So farmers and restaurant workers, home builders and home insurers, comedians and children, and philosophers and pastors all have ways to love others through their daily work, simply by doing their work well. Every time you cross a street, you depend on the love shown by the mechanics who did the most recent brake jobs on every car hurtling toward the intersection.

We can love God consciously while doing our work. But if continuous mindfulness is not our particular gift, we can also love God by doing something that God wants done. Many industries or workplaces have problems that call for redemption. A Christian worker can do something God wants done by modeling forgiveness, compassion, and integrity.

Prayer: Lord, loving you and loving others are your most important commands. Show me how I can love you and love others through my everyday work. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Our Work Fulfills the Great Commandment (Mark 12:28-34) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

40: Invest in God’s kingdom through your work (Matthew 25:14-30)

Scripture ReadingMatthew 25:14-30

One of Jesus’ most significant parables regarding work is set in the context of investments (Matt. 25:14-30). A rich man delegates the management of his wealth to his servants, much as investors in today’s markets do. He gives five talents to the first servant, two talents to the second, and one talent to the third. Two of the servants earn 100 percent returns by trading with the funds, but the third servant hides the money in the ground and earns nothing. The rich man returns, rewards the two who made money, but severely punishes the servant who did nothing.

The meaning of the parable extends far beyond financial investments. God has given each person a wide variety of gifts, and he expects us to employ those gifts in his service. It is not acceptable merely to put those gifts on a closet shelf and ignore them. The return God expects of us is commensurate with the gifts we have been given. The gifts we receive from God include skills, abilities, family connections, social positions, education, experiences, and more. The point of the parable is that we are to use whatever we have been given for God’s purposes.

Yet the particular talent invested in the parable is money, on the order of a million U.S. dollars in today’s world. In modern English, this fact is obscured because the word talent has come to refer mainly to skills or abilities. But this parable concerns money. It depicts investing as a godly thing to do if it accomplishes godly purposes in a godly manner. More pointedly for the workplace, it commends putting capital at risk in pursuit of earning a return. Sometimes Christians speak as if growth, productivity, and return on investment were unholy to God. But this parable overturns that notion. We should invest our skills and abilities, but also our wealth and the resources made available to us at work, all for the affairs of God’s kingdom.

Prayer: Jesus, your word calls me to invest in your kingdom with my time, talent, and financial resources. Help me to follow your call. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

39: Sin and the promise of restoration (Malachi 3)

Scripture Reading: Malachi 3

Even in times of restoration, human sin is never far away. Malachi, the third of the restoration prophets, complains that some of the people begin to profit by defrauding laborers of their wages. Not surprisingly, such people also pollute the temple worship by stinting what they contribute in offerings, and as a result the environment is also degraded.

Yet the hope of the prophets remains, and work is at the center of it. It begins with a promise to restore the religious/social infrastructure of the temple: “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:1). It proceeds with the restoration of the environment; people go about their work ethically (Mal. 3:1418), and as a result the economy is restored, including “the produce of your soil” and “your vine in the field” (Mal. 3:11b).

Prayer: Lord, your Word seems to indicate that work done ethically results in blessing and restoration. Help me go about my work ethically. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Both Sin and Hope Remain Present in Work (Malachi 1:1-4:6) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

38: Work and the environment (Zechariah 7:8–14)

Scripture Reading: Zechariah 7:8–14

Haggai connects the economic and social well-being of the people with the state of the environment. When there is disease in the physical environment on which we depend, there is disease in human society, and one of the marks of an unhealthy society is its contribution to the disease of the environment.

There is also a link between the way a community worships and cares for the land, and the economic and political condition of those who occupy the land. The prophets call us to re-learn the lesson that a respect for the creator of the earth we occupy is a starting point for peace between the earth and its inhabitants. For Haggai, the drought of the land and the ruin of the temple are inseparable. True and whole-hearted worship ushers in peace and blessing from the land. If Christians were to do their work according to the vision of the prophets, we could have a profoundly beneficial impact on the planet and all those who inhabit it.

If desolation is part of God’s punishment for the sin of the people, then productive ground is part of their restoration. Indeed, in quite different circumstances, Zechariah has a very similar vision to that of Amos during the time of Israelite prosperity: people experiencing wellbeing in the form of sitting under the fig trees that they planted. “On that day, says the Lord of hosts, you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree” (Zech. 3:10). Peace with God includes care for the earth that God has made. Productive land, of course, has to be worked in order to yield its fruit. And so the world of work is intimately connected with the realisation of abundant life.

Prayer: Lord, your Word indicates that one of the marks of an unhealthy society is its contribution to the disease of the environment. I want to experience productive work as you intended it—not according to my vision and ways, but in accordance with yours, including care for the earth. Show me how to work according to your ways. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Work, Worship, and the Environment (Haggai 1:1-2:19; Zechariah 7:8-14) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

37: Invest in community (Haggai 1:3-15)

Scripture ReadingHaggai 1:3-15

One of the challenges we face in work is the temptation to put self and family ahead of society. The prophet Haggai paints a vivid picture of this challenge. He confronts people working hard to rebuild their own houses while neglecting to put resources into the rebuilding of the temple, the center of the Jewish society. He says that this failure to invest in social capital is actually diminishing their individual productivity. As the Lord stirs up the spirit of the people and their leaders, they do begin to invest in rebuilding the temple and the fabric of society.

Investing in social capital reminds us that there is no such thing as a “self-made man.” Although individual effort may create great wealth, each of us relies on resources and social infrastructure that originate ultimately in God. We cannot provide for ourselves except by the grace of God’s generosity and the mutual work of his community.

In our own day, this reminds us of the importance of putting resources into the intangible aspects of life. Housing, food, automobiles, and other physical necessities are important. But God provides richly enough that we can also afford art, music, education, nature, recreation and the myriad things that feed the soul. Those who work in the arts or humanities or leisure industries, or put money towards the creation of parks and playgrounds and theatres, are making every bit as much of a contribution to the world of which God dreams as the businessman or carpenter.

This also suggests that investing in churches and church life is crucial to empowering Christians’ work. We should engage in worship as formation for good work, rather than merely as private devotion or leisure. Moreover, the Christian community can be a powerful force for economic, civic and social well-being if it can learn to bring the spiritual and ethical power of God’s word to bear on matters of work in the economic, social, governmental, academic, medical, and scientific spheres.

Prayer: Lord, please keep me grounded in Christian community, so that I may reach out to others in my workplace and beyond. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read The Need for Social Capital (Haggai 1:1-2:19)

from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

36: Faithfulness at work (Zephaniah 2:3)

Scripture ReadingZephaniah 2:3

During the exile, people began to re-learn how to work in faithful service to God. Even in the wretched circumstances of the exile, it was still possible to be faithful. But more is possible than simply staying at one’s post, valuable as that may be. We may also find a way to be righteous and humble: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the Lord’s wrath” (Zephaniah 2:3).

There are no ideal places of work. Some are deeply challenging to people of God, compromised in all sorts of ways, while others are flawed in more mundane ways. But even in difficult workplaces, we may still be faithful witnesses to God’s purposes, both in the quality of our presence and the quality of our work. Faithfulness is not only a matter of enduring hardship, but of making even the worst situation better in whatever ways we can.

Prayer: Jesus, show me small actions I can take to make my workplace better and be a witness to you there. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Faithfulness in the Midst of Toil (Habakkuk 2:1; Zephaniah 2:1-4) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.

35: Idolatry at work (Habakkuk 2:6–20)

Scripture ReadingHabakkuk 2:6–20

Faithfulness is not a superficial matter of uttering praises to God while we work. It is the act of putting God’s priorities first in our work. Habakkuk reminds that “the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!” (Hab. 2:20). This silence is not merely a religious observation, but a silencing of our own broken ambitions, fears, and motivations, so that the priorities of God’s covenant can become our priorities. Those who exploit others’ vulnerabilities bring judgment on themselves. Work that oppresses or takes advantage of others ultimately brings about its own downfall.

Today we may not be literally crafting idols of precious materials before which we bow down. But work may also be idolatrous if we imagine that we are capable of producing our own salvation. For the essence of idolatry is that “its maker trusts in his own handiwork” (Hab. 2:18, NASB), rather than trusting in God by whose guidance and power we are created to work.

If we are ambitious for power and influence because we think without our wisdom, skill and leadership, our work group, company, organization, or nation is doomed, then our ambition is a form of idolatry. In contrast, if we are ambitious for power and influence so that we can draw others into a network of service in which everyone brings forth God’s gifts for the world, then our ambition is a form of faithfulness. If our response to success is self-congratulation, we are practicing idolatry. If our response is thankfulness, then we are worshiping God. If our reaction to failure is despair, then we are feeling the hollowness of a broken idol, but if our reaction is perseverance, then we are experiencing the saving power of God.

Prayer: Jesus, when I am tempted by the idols of pride and self-sufficiency in my work, help me instead to remember with thanksgiving that I have freely received all gifts from you. Thank you for making fruitful work possible. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Idolatrous Work (Habakkuk 2:1-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.


Author: Theology of Work Project

Theology of Work Project Online Materials by Theology of Work Project, Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.theologyofwork.org

You are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work) for non-commercial use only, under the condition that you must attribute the work to the Theology of Work Project, Inc., but not in any way that suggests that it endorses you or your use of the work.

© 2014 by the Theology of Work Project, Inc.

Unless otherwise noted, the Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved.