I’m continuing the series on: How God Sees Us, which commenced here.
Many people look for significance in their career or in their work. Our work might be paid income but it also might be as a home maker or as a volunteer. While it’s important that our work makes a meaningful contribution, will our work actually give us a sense of significance?
The world would tell us that being a solicitor is more significant than collecting the garbage. Being an accountant is more important than someone who sells dresses or stacks supermarket shelves. But is that how God sees it? Is our wage an indication of the value of our work? A mother receives no wage, is her labour less valuable than someone who receives a large income? What matters to God is, how we do our work and who we are doing it for. In his eyes all work is significant.
In Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the ground, but not the work. Work would be harder but work is not a curse. Whatever vocation we are called to do, let’s do it to the best of our ability. Knowing if we are doing it to honour the Lord it is worthwhile and significance. Paul writes: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
If we look for our significance in our work without the Lord, it will never be enough. We won’t find significance through building our own kingdom and serving our own agendas. As we get older and move into retirement, we do less physical work, but we can still find significance through serving the Lord. Paul teaches us that our “work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” 1 Corinthians 3:13
The quality of our work is determined not by our success, not by its quantity, not by its effectiveness, but by our attitude. If we are attempting to build our own kingdom through our own efforts, it is like building with wood, hay and straw and in the end, it will be burnt up. Only what we sow with a Kingdom attitude will last for eternity.
Our significance is also not found in other people. Paul writes: “Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” 1 Corinthians 3:3-5
The people at Corinth were attaching themselves to particular apostles and trying to make themselves feel significant by who they were connected to. Christians today sometimes do the same thing. They look for their significance by being connecting to a particular pastor, or belonging to a certain church or by claiming to be baptised by a highly-regarded minister. However, we won’t find significance by attaching ourselves to someone else, we find it in Christ.
My significance is also not in my abilities: It’s interesting to compare John 15:5 with Philippians 4:13. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 and “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
I can do nothing apart from Christ, but in Christ I can do all things. It’s not what we do, but the attitude and motive we bring to it. God has not distributed gifts, intelligence and abilities equally so it would be unfair of God to judge on these things. We will not be judged by the greatness of our gifts, but on our use of what he has given us. Our significance is found when we become good stewards God’s gifts.
Sometimes, we may feel like we don’t do much in God’s service. I’ve heard people say, I only clean the church, or I only make morning tea or I only welcome people at the door. Yet these tasks make a significant difference to helping people feel welcome and comfortable in a church setting. Even to regular attenders who have made an effort to get to church, finding a warm greeting is an encouragement. I heard Pastor Wayne Cordeiro speak some time ago. He is the pastor a growing church in Hawaii and he has seen many come to faith and baptism. But he makes the comment if there weren’t other people in the background, doing all the other jobs that make up a church service, then people wouldn’t get saved.
We are to be faithful in the task God has given us not matter how big or small it is. And even when we can’t see the lasting results of what we are doing, we trust that God is working and remember Paul’s words, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
God doesn’t have any insignificant children. God has gifted us all. He has a purpose for us all. We are all made in the image of God and God doesn’t make junk.