What does it mean to prove ourselves at the workplace?
What would it mean to try to prove ourselves to God?
Wouldn't that be ridiculous?
At the workplace there are so many performance reviews (even if their not formal) that keep us motivated to keep working hard. And isn't this necessary, too? (those of you who are in jobs that are lacking in performance reviews might know this all too well).
And it's this system that sees the most fruitful results in our country. So what is the motivating factor behind all of it? Yea, that one's obvious: Money. Promotions, raises, benefits, bonuses, or just keeping your job. These are the things we need to get the things we want.
I see two errors that could occur here. One is that we overwork ourselves to spend all our money on things that we wont even like in a few months. And on things that are going to go straight into the trash after we find the next thing we want. The second is just to stop working after we have enough for rent, food, and a few small items. Both of these are errors because they have inward focuses. And this doesn't make sense when you think about it, because aren't jobs outward focused? Don't we cook food for others, sell products to others, and do research to benefit others? What does it mean when the reason we do these things for others is just so we can have our own wants?
Alright, so the Gospel is going to turn the whole motivation for working straight on its head.
First of all, let me say that I do think performance reviews are a good thing.
However, because in the Gospel we have been given so much grace, we live out of that grace. We have put in our best effort and still fallen short in God's performance review. But instead of getting fired, God has given us every promotion, benefit, and bonus we could ever hope for. It's incredible! Does that mean that we can just slack off at work and be lazy, expecting a raise? Absolutely not! It mean that we do our jobs well because of the relationship we have with God. We are now, collectively, the place where God dwells on the earth. We are God's ambassadors. His representatives in the world. We live for and love to honor his name above all names. We work hard for the glory of God, not for personal gain. The great news is, that because God is good, working for his glory also gives us personal gain (not necessarily financial, for you may be fired for your faith). And it also puts all the pressure off us, for we know that God is in control of our salvation the same way he is in control of our job. We work out of love, not cultural affluence or societal pressure.
In the end, we have a kingdom focus with our job. If we are serving food, making products, or doing research, we see it as literally bringing the kingdom of God to the earth. We have an outward focus, praying that our efforts would be used by God. In addition, we use the money we get from our job to glorify God, too. We don't waste all our money trying to gain everything the media tells us we need to have. On the contrary, we use as much as God would deem to bless others and support various ministries. This also means that we use the talents and gifts we have received from God in our jobs (instead of just wasting them when we are content with what we have), which will lead to as many promotions, raises, and bonuses as God would allow. In the process of all of this, though, it is necessary to remember are identity in Christ. We are forgiven and adopted sons and daughters of God. We are content with what we have, but continue seeking how we are to bless the name of our great Lord and savior.