We Should Work for the Good of Our Cities

As Christians, we should work for the good of cities. The idea appears sound. It appears that working for the good of the city is something we should definitely do.

But some Christians struggle with the idea. They would rather retreat from the city than work towards its good.

There are many objections we could explore but the one I want to tackle today is that this world is not our home. We belong to Jesus’ kingdom. As citizens of Jesus’ heavenly kingdom, we should work for its good but not the good of an earthly kingdom. Instead, we should distance ourselves from the world so that we are not tainted by the evil found therein. 

While some make the above argument, it is not biblical. Instead, the biblical view is that we should do all we can to work to bring about change in our cities now. 

Why should we work to bring about change in our cities? 

For the same reason Judah was supposed to work to bring about change in Babylon. As you read through the history of Israel, one thing becomes apparent — they were a rebellious people. Instead of worshipping the Lord, they worshipped other gods and relied on other nations to fight their battles instead of the Lord. As punishment for their unfaithfulness, God allowed His people to be conquered and exiled from the Promised Land. Israel was taken first by the Assyrians, then later Judah was taken by the Babylonians.

Right before the Babylonian exile, a number of false prophets told the people that they would come back to Jerusalem in just two short years, but that wasn’t God’s plan. In fact, Judah wasn’t coming back anytime soon. Instead they were going to stay in Babylon for 70 years (Jer. 29:10). 

While they would ultimately come back to the Promised Land, God didn’t want Judah to live as exiles. Instead he wanted them to take root. Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 starting in verse 5:

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf…” (Jer. 29:5-7a).

They were to take root — to have sons and daughters, to give them in marriage, and even to work for the good of the city. That might seem odd, but look at the rest of verse 7. It says, 

for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:7b).

In other words, as the city prospers, they will prosper. As the city flourishes, they will flourish. That same idea applies to us. While our home is the kingdom to come, we live here now. 

Instead of living as strangers, as exiles, we are to take root. We aren’t to live on the fringes, we aren’t to pull back. Instead, we are to work for the good of our country, city, and community. We are to work for good because as the city prospers, we prosper. As the city flourishes, we flourish.

While we are here, we are to work to make things better. We are to show the world a sliver of the kingdom to come. As we do so, we will not only enjoy a better life, but we will act as witnesses of the kingdom for which we find our hope. Hopefully, others will find their hope in the kingdom to come too.


Watch the sermon from which this post was developed.

You can’t earn your salvation

“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal 2:16)

God’s Word could not be more explicit — works of the law do not provide us with salvation. Right now, if you are working for your salvation, you will never gain it. You will never do enough to make yourself righteous in the sight of God. You can’t because you are infected with sin. You are totally corrupted by sin. Sins mark is on you and you cannot remove it in and of yourself. Sin is like a 500 lb gorilla on your back that you don’t know is there but you are carrying it around. Even if you knew it was there, you could not remove it yourselves.

However, all is not lost. We can experience salvation and release from the bondage of sin. Not through our actions, but through Jesus — the perfect God man — to substitute His Work and perfection for our works and imperfection. By faith in Jesus’ work on our behalf we are saved. We are justified through Jesus’ work. Justified is a legal term that means we are declared righteous before God. It is not that we are actually righteous in and of ourselves, but a declaration of righteousness is pronounced on us through our faith in Jesus’ right action on our part.

If you are struggling to save yourselves, stop struggling because it will never happen. If you are living in anxiety constantly wondering if you have done enough to please God, listen to your anxiety and wonder. It is telling you something. It is telling you that the system you are using for self-salvation is not working. You can’t earn salvation. It is only through faith in Jesus’ work that we are justified.

Are you laboring in vain?

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Ps 127:1-2)

Are you anxious? Do you lay awake at night worrying? The psalmist reminds us this morning that we should not be anxious. If the Lord wants our project, our church, our (insert what you are fretting over) to work out, it will be successful.

James, one of the apostles, picks up on this idea 1000’s of years later in his letter when he says,

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

It is not our will that we seek to do but the Lord’s. It is His will that we should ask He do in our prayer closet (Mt 6:10). We know our God is a good God. He doesn’t desire our harm (Mt 6:25-34). We can and should trust the Lord rather than worrying. What the Lord desires to be built will be built.

In saying we must trust the Lord and that He will build what He desires, we must not believe we are absolved from activity. We must work, putting forth effort, using the talents and gifts the Lord has provided. As we walk step by step each day, we can trust that the Lord will provide for us, as well as He will build, if it be His will.

When, then, if at all possible through prayer and counsel, we need to find what the Lord is doing and join Him in it.

How Should Christians Work? – Part 5

Work, it’s something we do a lot of. I am not sure if you have ever figured it up, but on a 40 hour work week, you will spend over 2,000 hours a year working. Over 30 years that amounts to roughly 62,000 hours or 2,600 straight days at work. I think it is safe to say that work is a big part of our lives.

Work is also a necessary part of our lives because without work we wouldn’t survive. We have to pay for the place live, the food we eat, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, and the things we do. So work is not only a big part of our lives, it’s a necessity.

Since we work so much, and retirement is far away for most of us, it’s important we have a biblical understanding of work.

How Should Christians Work?

(5) As Christians, employers must recognize they are ultimately accountable to God

In the second half of verse 1 of chapter 4, Paul says this,

“…knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Col 4:1b)

Just as employees are accountable to God and should work for Him, so should employers. They too have a master in heaven that they are answerable to. Knowing they are accountable to God should drive how they treat and interact with their employees.

Conclusion

So as we have seen, work is a big part of our day and life. We are going to spend at least 62 thousand hours working. As Christians, we can’t separate our church life from our work life. They two have to be one. We have to allow the Bible to influence the way we work.

While we don’t have time in this post to cover all the ways the Bible should influence our work, applying these five ideas are a good start.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you working from a Christian perspective?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Work from a Christian Perspective?

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How Should Christians Work? – Part 4

Work, it’s something we do a lot of. I am not sure if you have ever figured it up, but on a 40 hour work week, you will spend over 2,000 hours a year working. Over 30 years that amounts to roughly 62,000 hours or 2,600 straight days at work. I think it is safe to say that work is a big part of our lives.

Work is also a necessary part of our lives because without work we wouldn’t survive. We have to pay for the place live, the food we eat, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, and the things we do. So work is not only a big part of our lives, it’s a necessity.

Since we work so much, and retirement is far away for most of us, it’s important we have a biblical understanding of work.

How Should Christians Work?

(4) As Christians, we must treat our employees as we would want to be treated 

In the first part of verse 1 of chapter 4, Paul says this:

“Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly…” (Col 4:1a)

Part of treating others as we would want to be treated is for us to treat others fairly, giving them their due. Employers aren’t to rip their employees off. They work for an agreed upon wage and benefits, which should be given in a timely manner.

As well this means you should provide your employees with adequate working conditions. I recently read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. It is about what was happening in the meatpacking industry at the turn of the 20th century. One of the major things Sinclair highlights in the book is the horrible working conditions. Many were required to work in extreme heat and cold without adequate ventilation, light, or drainage. All that was so their employer could make more profits.

While profits are important, they can’t be our only focus. We also have to focus on our employees. We have to give them what they need to do their job and provide for their families.

Treating others as we would want to be treated also means that we don’t motivate with guilt or coercion. We wouldn’t want anyone to do that to us, so we shouldn’t do it to others.

Really when we use guilt or coercion to motivate others, what we show them is that we don’t really care about them, we just care about what we can get out of them, which is no way to treat our employees.

Instead, We are to think of our employees as people, not just worker bees. The people who work for us are just that — people. They aren’t machines assigned to do a task. They are people whom we have hired to work alongside us. They have families, interests, ideas, and feelings. If we are going to be a good employer, we must recognize that and try to cultivate a relationship as time and money allows.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you treat others as you would want to be treated?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Work from a Christian Perspective?

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How Should Christians Work? – Part 3

Work, it’s something we do a lot of. I am not sure if you have ever figured it up, but on a 40 hour work week, you will spend over 2,000 hours a year working. Over 30 years that amounts to roughly 62,000 hours or 2,600 straight days at work. I think it is safe to say that work is a big part of our lives.

Work is also a necessary part of our lives because without work we wouldn’t survive. We have to pay for the place live, the food we eat, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, and the things we do. So work is not only a big part of our lives, it’s a necessity.

Since we work so much, and retirement is far away for most of us, it’s important we have a biblical understanding of work.

How Should Christians Work?

(3) As Christians, our work must be done wholeheartedly

Look at what Paul says in verses 23-25,

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Col 3:23–25)

What Paul tells us here is that we must give the work we do our all. That idea reminds me of a book that Camden had around Christmas time. It was entitled Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. There is a consistent refrain in the book that goes like this: Give it your all; Give it your all; At Christmas we give, so give it your all.

While it is good to teach our kids that they are to give it their all, that is something we have to remember as well. We are to give it our all. We aren’t to slack off. We aren’t to cut corners. We aren’t to do sloppy work as a way to get back at our company. We are to give it our all 100% of the time because we aren’t working for men; we are working for the Lord. So no matter how things are going at work. How the company is treating us. We are to give our all at all times.

We can give it our all no matter the situation because our ultimate reward and inheritance come from the Lord. We can count on God paying us our inheritance, instead of withholding it from us like an employer might do. As well as we can count on God paying the wrongdoer back for the way they have treated us. We, then, don’t have to seek vengeance. Vengeance is the Lord’s.

So no matter the situation, we are to give it our all, working wholeheartedly for the Lord.

Question for Reflection

  1. When you work, do you give it your all?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Work from a Christian Perspective?

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